“Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.” -Eckhart Tolle
FIFTEEN weeks to get an answer to the cancer question. After surgical excision and biopsy of three suspicious masses, I’d finally be free of the uncertainty.
On the day results were due, I cleared my schedule. It would be hard to focus so I planned to run errands until my post-op appointment late that afternoon.
As I watched the garage door lift in my rearview mirror, I wondered, why did this happen to me?
My life had unfolded exactly as it was meant to, I trusted that. And I had learned some good lessons from all this along the way. But the big WHY escaped me.
A favorite podcast cued up on my phone for the ride. On episode #92 of The Gathering Pod, Martha Beck referred to the Chinese classic text, Tao te Ching, on the value of empty space.
“It is the space inside that holds what we need. The space in between is what is useful. That is where enlightenment comes from.”
My throat caught and tears slid down my face.
As I eased the car into a lucky front spot at the grocery store, I thought, maybe I needed to create more space inside me. There were some painful things I had been unable to let go. I had a feeling that’s what had to come out. I now walked around free of it.
As I filled the cart and checked items off my list, the idea of being more spacious settled in. I felt lighter.
At checkout, I asked the bagger to help me to my car as I wasn’t supposed to be lifting anything heavy yet. As he loaded the trunk, my cel buzzed. DR. KARMIN flashed across the screen.
She had reviewed the pathology report and spoken to the surgeon.
“I didn’t want you to wait all day to hear that everything is totally benign.”
In the parking lot, I steadied myself on the car’s back bumper and cried.
Later that day, Dr. Mendez detached the velcro of my surgical tube top embroidered with a tiny flower. She carefully unwrapped me from the bandages. On top of my concern over the possible diagnosis, I’d wondered what sort of frankenboob situation I’d be left with.
“Look what a beautiful job I did.” She stepped back with a smile. She had worked meticulously to hide the stitches. You could hardly tell I’d been through this ordeal. She was truly gifted.
The next day, I followed up with my functional medicine doctor. Chris Estes is a Columbia trained MD who is also a shaman. Until he expanded his practice, he’d worked in women’s reproductive health as a GYN, performing surgeries of the like I had just undergone.
Even though I understood that standard protocol had required removal of the type of masses I’d had, I still had questions. Since he is a total hippie like me, I knew he would understand.
“So why’d I have to do this if everything was benign?” I asked.
“The hospital sent me the 30 pages of notes from the surgery and I read them all. You had something called atypical ductal hyperplasia. While ADH is technically benign, it keeps company with cancer. Somewhere between ten and fifty per cent of these masses can become malignant. They absolutely needed to come out.”
I finally got it. There was a good chance that Dr. Karmin’s insistence on a mammogram* really had saved my life.
“I think I got it. Nothing helps you see your life more clearly than something like this,” I said.
“You might also think about how much you are over-giving, particularly to your kids who are growing up and will be out on their own soon. Men don’t do that.”
I had a solid record of over-sacrificing. But it wasn’t just that. One of my kids had been having a difficult time at home and at school. On far too many occasions, I had taken on the hard emotions of an experience that didn’t belong to me. I know with 100% certainty that this habit is bad for my health. I can’t do that anymore.
“So let me tell you about the new moon this Friday. This is a good time to let go and renew. You might want to do something symbolic to mark the occasion,” he said.
After our appointment, I googled it.
The August 2022 full moon provides an opportunity to set boundaries, make some changes, and create the life for yourself that you’ve always wanted.
I’m on it. I will write down everything I want to let go, set fire to it and watch it float away.
When we trust that our life is unfolding exactly as it should and we release what does not serve us, we get the sense that it’s all going to be okay.
POWERFUL QUESTION: How can you make more space inside yourself to allow something new to emerge?
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*I also asked Estes about thermograms. “I don’t like them. They haven’t kept pace with the technological developments of mammography and MRI because there is no money in it. A mammogram emits a nominal amount of radiation. I recommend MRIs judiciously because gadolinium used in contrast can cause heavy metal toxicity.” Well. That settles it for me. No more thermograms.