Fighting Cancer - Make a Plan, Know Thyself and Exercise
A cancer diagnosis is a massive shock, but a cancer with a poor prognosis is a bit like the Sword of Damocles hanging over your head. Your thoughts race and you wonder how long you have got?
But it is doesn’t need to be like this, and with the love and support of family and friends lifting you most days, it’s not. You must keep planning and not allow the spectre of cancer to envelope you with fear. It is difficult, don’t get me wrong, as you have your moments when the abyss of mortality seems closer, more real, than when you were drifting through life, your awareness and presence in the moment lacking, distracted by the maelstrom that is modern life.
This journey is as much a mental one as a physical one, staying mindful and calm, living in the beauty of the moment, or being patient through the difficulties that arise. “Know thyself”, as the maxim inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi in Greece encourages us to do.
For me this is recognising those qualities that bring me down, observing them and massaging them gently out through awareness and detachment. It’s also about drawing on the wisdom and guidance of great traditions and their teachers, like in Sufism, our own Indigenous culture and Native American Indian traditions, poets and mindfulness teachers.
Don’t thing of the ‘end game’ but plan to keep living life. Ignore the statistics around your illness and be liberated instead by the uncertainty of it all because no one really knows. Life then becomes an incredible sensory experience, as it should have always been, but which distraction diminished. ‘Smell the roses’, travel if you can, express your love and gratitude to those around you, and immerse yourself in the healing that is nature. That is what I am doing, making a consistent plan to escape and feeling regularly nourished by all that is beautiful about nature, which includes all the oases of green spaces in the cities.
Keep exercising through the journey of chemotherapy as hard as that can be some days, even if it is a walk in one of those beautiful green spaces I mentioned, get out and enjoy the sunshine! Studies have confirmed that exercise during chemotherapy helps its effectiveness in fighting the cancer and in mitigating the side effects. I have certainly found that with the side effects and if my cancer blood markers, which are going down, are any measure to go by, exercise is possibly helping there too.
Remember too there is hope as in the words of the Sufi Master, Jalaluddin Rumi reminds us:
"Why should I stay at the bottom of a well, when a strong rope is in my hand?”