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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Light in the Valley of the Shadow

Out of the Chrysalis - from today's newsletter. Your comments are very welcome and dialogue is encouraged. 

Much has happened in my life since the last “Out of the Chrysalis”. The most pivotal has been a gradual deterioration in my health and the long protracted and often challenging journey to the eventual diagnosis of clear cell kidney cancer. It culminated in an eight hour surgery, partly on by pass, to remove my left kidney and the tumour which had grown all the way along the vena cava and into the lower chamber of my heart. Kidney cancer is one of the rarer cancers and the condition I had occurs in less than one per cent of those diagnosed.  It was a high risk operation but in the hands of three skilled surgeons and their teams, I came through. The wonderful care of medical, nursing and support staff at the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank saw me make a remarkable and rapid recovery. It is now a few days away from the six month anniversary of this life restoring surgery.

I live each day as an act of gratitude for my life. I live each day in the awareness that the very aggressive tumour (Fuhrman Grade 4) could make its comeback and I have been forced to face my mortality, to look death in the eye and say, hold back, not yet, there is much still to be done with this life. Each four monthly CT scan is another landmark, another cause for gratitude. I have had my first all clear back in March and I travel forward in the hope that the second all  clear will come at the end of July. This will be the pattern of my life from now on.

I have been forced to face fear, to walk in the shadow of the valley of death, to make the act of surrender to a will other than mine. There have been times of great sorrow, great despair but something has always been there to lift me up and out into the light again. I have raged against God in momentary outbursts of desperate anger and I have sat in silence wrapped around in a peace that passes all understanding. I have knelt on the floor of my sitting room and screamed in helpless pain, shrieking my fear and rage out into the universe, and I have found an inner source of stillness and courage which carried me beyond those moments to something deeper, wiser, beyond.

I have discovered how much I am loved and valued in ways that I never dreamed of. So many people surrounded me with their loving, healing support. I once wrote about how empty I had felt growing up, how unable I was to truly feel the love that I knew was there rather than to simply know it. This last year was so intensely moving and affirming. I had no idea that I meant so much to so many people.  I joked with friends that I was in that rare position of reading my obituaries before I departed the world.

From the very beginning I made the decision to be open about the illness. I realised that I would need everyone with me, willing me well. I really did not know just how powerful that love would be and from so many places in the world. I was prayed for in African Missionary Churches, New England Covens and in places of worship of every faith in many nations. People sat in healing circles for me and Reiki Masters formed a team to send energy to me. I was given all manner of support and each one was born out of the gift of love. That love cushioned me, comforted me and carried me through. They were and are my earth angels, my own miracle team.

So my friends, past, present and yet to come, even in the darkness there is light and that light is love. Out of pain and troubled times comes transformation and new learning. Bear with me as I process the experience and I will share my heart, mind and soul with you. Together, we learn and grow.

It is spring here in Scotland. The trees are clouds of the softest green, the green of new life returning after the long sleep of winter. I too return from my long sleep, my journey deep within, from the shadows into the Light.

Some questions for you to contemplate if you so wish:
What is undone in your life that you would regret if you died before completion?
What steps will you take today towards completion?
What have you done that you wish undone?
What will you do to make amends and be at peace with your conscience?

I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.
-Winston Churchill

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