Friday, September 15, 2006

Fear, Anxiety and Trepidation

Actually, I'm trying not to feel any of those things as my next CT scan approaches. Some of you know that I was originally scheduled for the next scan today, September 15. However, a few weeks ago, the oncologist's assistant called me to say that he would be out of the office today. I am rescheduled for the CT scan, followed quickly by an appointment with him, both early on Monday, Sept. 18. So, for those of you praying hard for me today, keep it up, and know that the test is still a few days away. And, for those of you watching and waiting, I promise to post something by the end of the day on Monday so that you will know what's in my near future, medically speaking.

Trying not to feel fear and anxiety, trying not to think about cancer, trying not to worry about whether or not the cancer has spread, and the CT scan will indicate that the time for chemo has arrived, is incredibly, impossibly difficult. Still, I'm working on it.

Work this week has been a good antidote to worry. Thinking about and teaching my classes, looking ahead to the next few weeks of material to cover, connecting with friends and colleagues in the city; all this has helped fill my mind so that I'm not thinking about cancer. I also devised a new routine for work weeks. On the night before I go to work, I am not reading any gallbladder discussion boards, not reading stories of the struggles of others with their chemo and with this disease, not reading any of the descriptions of gallbladder cancer. A simple discipline, but I felt that I slept better and greeted each day with a clearer mind.

And, I am trying not to suffer over my suffering. That phrase came back to me this afternoon, and I actually discovered its source by googling it. Turns out it's not from the Bible, not from a Buddhist teaching (although many of them are about suffering), but it is from the Book of Runes. Many years ago, as a spiritual discipline, I drew one rune each morning to focus my meditation and give me some words of wisdom as I began my day. It seems that Rune #21, Thurisaz - Gateway, is the source of this line. It reads: "When you are undergoing difficulties, remember: The quality of your passage depends upon your attitude and upon the clarity of your intention. Be certain that you are not suffering over your suffering."

Since this out-of-control situation began, I have been powerfully aware that the only thing I have control over is how I respond to this hand dealt. I see these lines as reminding me that, even as this weekend unfolds and I go for the test and appointment on Monday, how I anticipate and respond to what happens is up to me.

I don't know that I want to use a visualization presented earlier in the text about this rune, but it is intriguing to contemplate. "Visualize yourself standing before a gateway on a hilltop. Your entire life lies out behind you and below. Before you step through, pause and review the past: the learning and the joys, the victories and the sorrows - everything it took to bring you here. Observe it all, bless it all, release it all. For in letting go of the past you reclaim your power. Step through the gateway now."

Having written all of this, I feel as if I've come full circle. I hate having cancer. I hate feeling the fear, anxiety and trepidation, and then feeling I need to rein them in. I hate having the life circumstance that makes me face all of this. The things I used to fret about; relationship difficulties, completing all of the work I would commit to do, struggling to find time to exercise and eat well, the endless list that marks so many of our lives in this day and time, they all seem like such small things. I want my life back. The life I had before cancer.


Anonymous said...

Holding you in my prayers and in my heart. Will be anxious to read your news late on Monday. Keep putting one foot in front of the other...

Anonymous said...

Lynne - I am visualizing you surrounded and caressed by the golden light of God's healing love.

Anonymous said...

Lynne, I am praying for you as you go through today and the future. This posting touched me deeply. I do so understand that wish for the old life back. Keep strong and know you're not alone.