I Had a Few Eureka Moments

I had a few eureka moments the other day.

I was lying in savasana when I suddenly thought: I already do these things.  “These things” are all the things you are supposed to do to avoid getting cancer.  

I’ve previously thought, in anger and frustration: I already do “these things,” god damn mother fucker! 

This time the thought came to me in a different way: I already do “these things!!!” “These things” are the same things that will help me to achieve PFS (progression-free survival). 

I do yoga; I’ve begun to meditate(1); I’ve been to 4 tai chi classes(2) and a dance class(3); I try to draw something every few days, my personal art therapy session(4); I take ashwaghanda(5) (don’t even get me started on other supplements like mushrooms and nutritional yeast); I stopped drinking(6); I eat 99% organic and local plant-based home cooked food(7);  I’ve discovered that I love seaweed salad(8); most days I do a daily 13-hour fast(9); I’m trying to ramp exercise back up(10); I’ve reduced my stress level by at least 50%(11). 

I already do “these things!”  I could do them better, more frequently! I could do them with more intention! Imagine how totally lost I’d feel if I didn’t already do “these things!” I am halfway to nirvana! 

I’ve decided I’m not going to be resentful that I got cancer in spite of taking good care of myself.  It is very possible that I’m still around because of the care that I’ve taken. I like that story better. A lot of what I read about is what you can do to prevent cancer, or prevent recurrence, and I can’t help but think, “What about me?” What can those of us whose horse is already out of the barn do to improve our lot (besides take our chemo pills and shots)? Turns out it is “these things.” Until there is a cure, I’m going to do “these things” with gusto. Though the horse may be out of the barn, I’m going to try to keep it in the paddock.

My second eureka moment was when I realized that I was completely relaxed.  I was in my hammock. Everyone should have a hammock, under a magnificent tree – the sound of leaves rustling never gets old. When was the last time I was this relaxed? Was I ever this relaxed?

IMG_2853

…..Yes I was! Picture 13 year-old me. My horse, Dawn, would automatically stop and stand hipshot at our favorite spot, on a ridge overlooking a big beautiful meadow below.  Dawn always seemed to be competing in some nostril expansion contest, the way she inhaled deeply. I would lay back over her rump and also breathe deeply, watching the leaves dance. Imagine you are stroking the nap of a piece of cream colored velvet fabric. Now imagine that piece of cream colored velvet is warm. Now imagine that warm cream colored velvet moves below your fingers and huffs warm air into your palm.  You have just touched the muzzle of my favorite horse.  The one who relaxed by breathing with me.

Anyway. My moment of pure relaxation was on the Sunday of memorial day weekend.  We had not hosted a giant party the prior day, our annual cook out to kick off summer, as we had not hosted it for the prior five years since my initial diagnosis. It was an event I looked forward to annually, though with some anxiety because I am not by nature an entertainer and the event always felt like I was spinning plates. Until the sun went down, the crowd thinned out and I finally got to sit down and talk to my closest friends. 

I was out on the patio yesterday afternoon at about 6 and said to Fletcher, “The grill would be fired up and table covered with side dishes at about this time. I miss it! We should have had the party!” Instead, we sliced oranges into our San Pellegrino and ate vintage curry we found in the refrigerator – zero stress (if you don’t count worrying about food poisoning.) But in that hammock I must say that I was glad to not be picking cups out of the grass, dumping drunk bees out of near-empty beer bottles. Maybe next year. I am so much smarter now.  I’d be able to fool myself into thinking that hosting 50 people wouldn’t be stressful.

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6282865/

2 https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/cancerwise/tai-chi-healing-from-the-inside-out.h00-158598468.html

3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25730591 AND http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0197455612000998

4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19619378

5 https://integrativeonc.org/news/sio-news/178-herb-of-the-month-ashwagandha 

6 https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)31310-2/fulltext 

7 https://nutritionfacts.org/video/which-dietary-factors-affect-breast-cancer-most/  AND https://www.uab.edu/news/health/item/8798-plant-based-diet-converts-breast-cancer-in-mice-from-lethal-to-treatable-form 

8 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3651528/ 

9 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27032109

10 Re exercise, I love this image: “…. Increased aerobic fitness may counteract this communication by increasing the exosomal communication coming from healthy skeletal muscle cells, and since there are so many more skeletal muscle cells compared to cancer cells, the effect may be akin to a large crowd drowning out the speech of a small but vocal hate group…..”

11 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1019-4

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