My Message in a Bottle

By October 22, 2014 New No Comments

This is my column for DNA published March, 2015

 

My bone marrow began sending me messages long before I learned to listen. I was exhausted, pale, and tired all of the time. And busy. It was a badge I wore with pride. Eventually I landed myself in the emergency room, and was handed a full membership to the cancer club. I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer.

That was June 23rd 2009.

I was very fortunate. And I refused to become a statistic. After four months of chemo and steroids, I was able to use my own stem cells in what is called an autologous stell cell transplant.

My stem cell transplant was a journey to my very core. It’s like witnessing a rebirth. Visualizing those ‘yellow’ cells stream their way back into my bone marrow opened my eyes to the deepest, most intimate parts of myself. The ultimate reboot.

But I was also reminded of Michael Pinto the undertaker in Bombay.

‘Grave Problems Resurrected here’

That’s so not gonna happen. Not on my resurrection.

Sometimes I gloss over my past cancer club membership–my treatment, my illness—but then I am remember the darkest crises are moments of great opportunity; an event that shocks you into seeing with your heart. It is a place that combines survival with celebration.

I have so much more to do with this second chance. I need to create and express and travel and work and learn. I need to make surviving cancer matter. To take the miracle, the promise, the hope, out into the streets.
And then there are times when the work is to be be still.

To replenish and allow my body to take the lead, as happened when I fell ill with a virus two weeks ago. So many flights, a too packed schedule took a toll. I felt the first tickle in the back of my throat after I landed in Hong Kong. But now when my body sends a message, I pay close attention.

My body was saying ‘Remember: Grave problems are NOT resurrected here.’

There are other things far more important which you can only understand from stillness.

And from illness.

I was so grateful for that message.

When the noise inside and outside ourselves is dialed down, we have a shot at moving back to a place where you can trust your own inner compass. ‘To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.’ said Ralph Waldo Emerson.

That’s a message worth listening for

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