I am a big believer that knowledge is power, even in those moments where we may be thinking, ignorance is bliss. At the end even if the information is scary, in my opinion, it’s good to know.
So, this leads me to last Friday’s meeting with my doctor. After waiting for 3 weeks for the biopsy results, he finally has received them and we meet to discuss the prognosis. In my mind I am creating my fantasy film where he says, it’s quite miraculous but the tumor has completely disappeared. I am praying, crossing my fingers and hoping to hear those miraculous words. They don’t happen…. His first words are, “It’s very serious.” As I said, he is a straight talker. In my mind I am thinking, “you’re already off script!” But the words are starting to sink in… “It’s very serious.” And now I’m thinking…oh well, what’s next? He continues and says, “it is a high grade aggressive carcinoma.” Oh my, he’s said it, “the C word!” I’ve managed to avoid the word for 2 months. I first used the word “growth” which didn’t sound too bad. That slowly graduated to “tumor” which seemed a little more grown up and serious, and now we’re talking straight…Cancer. Scary word…not the word I want to hear applied to me.
And we continue, “you have a fast growing tumor of 10 cm (4 inches) in your bladder and it needs to be removed in these next 30 days.” I know what he means but I ask, you mean remove the tumor? And he says, “no, the whole bladder including the tumor.” Again, not what I was hoping to hear, especially on a Friday evening. What happened to TGIF! “Thank God It’s Friday!” Friday is for good news!
And now, we get some good news. The good news is that it has not spread to other local organs, or the bones or the chest area (lungs etc).
O.k., I’m feeling some gratitude now, but still those first words “It’s very serious” are still ringing in my ears. The words, “The bladder needs to be removed” are weighing down on me. I’m kind of in shock. “I like my bladder. I’m even attached to my bladder, (emotionally and physically). I’ve had this bladder for 65 years.” And now, a few tears fall…probably more than a few but that’s all my macho self can admit to. My mind is saying, “keep it together, keep it together…suck it up”. O.k, inhale deep, exhale, tears are gone, macho is back.
So, back to business. What’s next? Let’s discuss the protocol and then I can go home and digest all of this news and then figure out what are we doing. It’s Friday after all, and the weekend is upon us.
He lays it all out. First thing is a total scan for all the bones in the body to make sure all is good there and have a starting point for whatever my current bone density is. Once the bone scan is done, then we do the surgery. The surgery is about 4 hours and then you’ll be in the hospital for about a week. A month after the surgery, we follow up with chemo-therapy and then probably radiotherapy. That’s the reason for the bone scan. Once a year they will scan the bones to make sure all is good, and that first scan is the touchstone.
The doctor says, “The surgery, chemo and radio-therapy will all take about 4 months and then after that, you’ll be as good as new. You’ll feel great and be able to resume all of your normal activities.” Except of course, I won’t have a bladder. More on that later…I’m not ready to go there yet.
So, it is what it is. This week, I went for a second opinion in with one of the top bladder specialists Italy. He’s done over 7000 bladder reconstructions and comes highly recommended. I’m hoping he’ll say, “Well I don’t know what that first doctor was thinking, we’ll be able to take care of this in the least intrusive way and you’ll be fine in no time.” Once again, my imagination is ahead of me. In real time, the doctor says, “Unfortunately the original diagnosis is correct and the program suggested is exactly what I would do.” Oh well, at least I know what I’ll be doing. And the surgery will be happening soon.
In the meantime, I continue to work on the mental aspects of healing and staying on my positive path. As I mentioned in my previous entry, I consider that a big part of my healing:
Mind Games: Keeping a Positive Mental Attitude:
“Make yourself so happy so that when others look at you they become happy too.” Yogi Bhajan
So the day after my first surgery, laying in a hospital room, bored out of my mind, hooked up to a catheter, intravenous fluids, connected to seemingly endless saline solution to flush my bladder, I reluctantly opened the book and began reading. It was slow at first but then I had a wowza! moment and realized…the perfect read. In the beginning of the book, Bernie meets his inner guide. Bernie was highly skeptical about this but he went along with the process expecting as a surgeon to meet Jesus or Moses. Instead George, a hippie type, shows up. I don’t know why but suddenly, I am hooked. I like this guy Dr. Bernie Siegel. I decide to embrace my inner Bernie. And, I’m going to have fun with this, as strange as that may seem.
As I mentioned in my first blogpost, I have also met my Inner Physician. It seemed a bit of a stretch but I decided to allow it. So, I meditate and Hilda shows up. She’s tall, Nordic, wears a white gown, has the strangest coarse blond hair-do one can imagine (kind of a fuzzy helmet), and says, I am your guide, inner physician and inner healer. All I can think of is, “Physician, heal thyself”. And Hilda answers, that’s why I am here, to guide you through your healing. I like Hilda. She’s actually pretty silent but gives me strong suggestions and stays steady to them. I Google the name Hilda and find that its origin means “strength from within” or “warrior”. She tells me, “I am your inner warrior and I am here to fight for your health and vitality. Don’t worry.” I like this woman. It’s amazing the clarity one can have after a few days of a 102 degree (39 C) fever. The fever has passed but Hilda has stuck and has become my very close and dear friend. She’s always there. She’s a constant reminder to stay positive…sometimes almost a pain, but it’s better than the alternative. As Wayne Dyer said, when the negative thought comes, just say, ”Next.”
I am continuing with Bernie and his out-of-thebox, exceptional patients. As they discuss their disease (when possible I avoid the “C” word…just a little denial…it’s a tumor), they embrace it, and some actually love it and engulf it in light. That’s a stretch, as I’m thinking about just getting rid of that thing when Hilda intervenes and says, you have to accept it, surrender and then you can release it. So, it’s getting a bit New Age for me but at home, in my bedroom, what do I have to lose.
I start talking to my tumor and it says. I am a “he”, not an “it”. Now we’re getting strange. He goes on to say, his name is Tiny, or Tiny Tumor to be formal. Did I mention that fever? So, Tiny says, I’m a teacher. I’m like what?? He says, I am here to teach you. And I say, what? “I’m here to teach you” he repeats. I ask, teach me what? And he says, “…the lesson will reveal itself.” O.k., at least I’m not paying for this…or am I?
As a Yogi for the past 46 years, I am also into meditation and mantra in a big way. My current meditation, simple and direct: I sit in easy pose and chant, “Healthy Am I, Happy Am I, Holy Am I” Got it going non-stop in my mind. With the mantra, I visualize my health, my happiness and my spiritual wholeness. I hold my bladder and Tiny the Tumor in a golden healing light knowing that both will be leaving soon. So, I’m working on it and getting through. I’ll let you know how it goes and what comes next in my treatment.
Love to All, Light to All, Peace to All
Sada Sat Singh