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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Out of the Darkness

I am writing this tonight for all the souls crying out in the darkness of their own minds. I want them to know that there is always a way through. It is not an easy way but there is a way. There is always a way. 

Last year when I hovered so close to death, the worst part was the not knowing. It took so long to come to a diagnosis and the waiting between tests was so painful, there were times when I felt that I could not go on for one moment more. 

For eighteen months, I knew that something was seriously wrong with my body, the body I had always been so sure of. Suddenly I could no longer trust it. I had always taken my health for granted, so sure of it because I came from a very healthy, long lived and largely cancer free family. Now my instincts told me that death was lurking inside me but I did not know where, nor did the numerous doctors I consulted. For the last six months, I knew through a combination of symptoms and blood test results that there was some form of cancer eating away at me and I grew more and more desperate and afraid, desperate to know what it was so I could be treated and afraid that it would be too late by the time it was found. 

I don't think I have the words to convey the anguish of waiting, waiting for appointments for consultations, waiting for appointments for tests, waiting for results, waiting and more waiting and then more waiting. Every morning there was the daily ritual of checking the mail box for appointment cards which never seemed to arrive when expected, at least twice because the information had been lost or not conveyed correctly. 

 Eventually it became too hard for me to even go to the box and my mother did it for me. She came to dread it a much as I did. The hope was so much more cruel. It raised me up for fleeting moments to crush me with such deadening disappointment. 

I remember one morning in particular when I was once again waiting for an appointment with the next consultant in the next speciality which might or might not reveal what was wrong. I had been waiting for three weeks for what had been an urgent request and yet again there was nothing. I knelt on the floor in our sitting room and I opened my mouth and screamed and screamed and screamed. All the anger, all the pain, all the frustration and the fear poured out of me in each shriek. Then I yelled at God. I won't repeat what I called him but I sobbed out that I could not go on any more, to get it over with and take me. Torrential tears triggered the dreaded spasms of coughing which rendered me almost without breath. I just wanted it to be over.

So many time like this, my mind turned to the thought that it would be so much easier just to slip away, to die and be free from both the physical and mental suffering. Yet, once the tears had fallen and the screaming was over, somewhere inside me the instinct for survival was fighting back. I unleashed the ferocity of my anger and frustration and slowly the beginnings of peace came to an exhausted mind and body. It was like being wrapped around in a healing balm. For ever increasing periods of time, I knew what it was to be held in an invisible yet palpable force of love and light. The shadows would return, then the venting and then that blissful sensation of something sacred encompassing me. 

It would suddenly sweep over me and I would be filled with such a sweetness of gratitude, the still centre in the eye of the storm. It took me into a place of healing and a quiet joy. In those last months before my diagnosis and operation, those moments when I rested in that oasis of powerful calm saved my life and my sanity. 

It is now a whole year since my diagnosis with kidney cancer and three weeks away from the anniversary of the operation which saved my life. Today I am healthier than I have been in years. Today I am grateful beyond all measure for the gift of the peace that saved me. I was in such agony of spirit and I found my way through. You will find your way too. 

There is nothing that cannot be overcome. We may not win the battle for our lives but we can win the battle for the way we live them. Each day, in common with many others who have experienced the darkness of cancer, I live with the knowledge that it can back and that statistically in my own case, that is far more likely than not. Living with fear is a challenge but one which does not overwhelm me. Each day is a gift to be treasured. 

I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death and I am here to tell the tale. You can keep putting one foot in front of you on your path and you will come out into the light. Place your hand in mine and walk with me, Just close your eyes and sense the flow of love and light. Feel my hand in yours. Together we walk our paths and together we find our way. 

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