I’m curious to speak with you about life after cancer. After you first learned about your cancer, my perception is that you began to live more fully than ever before, but I’m wondering if after the first year anniversary you are still living as fully?
Jake, answering your question, I find myself reflecting upon the issues of time. I find that during my cancer diagnosis and treatment I kept myself 100% present. Since I did not know if I was going to heal myself or if I was going to die, I did not have time to lose. I wanted to connect with myself, with my loved ones and enjoy every day as if it was my last one.
I remember during that first year, to me, you seemed so courageous and present—very direct and forthright in your communications.
Yes, I perceive me that way too, it was a time to not hide, to show and express myself honestly and directly and live as fully as I could with myself and others. This worked well until I took myself back home (To Argentina). Once there, I postponed being in the present because I started to focus on someone else’s present, . . . my elderly mother’s.
So your focus shifted away from self, and what was best for you, and you started to focus on other people. Is that right?
Yes, I started looking and becoming aware of other people’s needs, especially since I don’t see them very often (once or twice a year). When I landed in Argentina, I landed in my past, I experienced going through a time machine, recreating old dynamics. I experienced myself as a very different me. I speak a different language, move and behave with different cultural codes and personal preferences. I experienced myself based on what I inherited from my childhood.
This makes perfect sense to me. It’s almost like time traveling into the past. So when you were in your past, you seemed less able to be in your present. We can only be in one place at a time—as far as I know. So when we are present, we don’t get lost in our past or in our future.
Can you say a bit more about this?
It is possible to physically travel to a place from our past, like the home you grew up in, yet still be the present you—the person you have grown into. But many people find this hard because—whether or not we physically travel to a place from our past—our mind travels into our pasts. As a result of going back in time, we are more likely to unconsciously fall into old habituated patterns of how we related to our family in the past. This is part of why so many people find it hard to go back home, back to our family of origins. We confuse ourselves, we lose our orientation, we lose ourselves. The key is to be the new you, even in the old place.
I think that I can engage with others, even from my past, while continuing to hold myself in the present, as the person I am now.
I believe you can, particularly if you are in the state of mind you were in during the first year after your diagnosis. But I wonder if you are in that same place, or do you even want to be?
I am still dealing with 3 issues: 1) How to live in the present without fear (of recurrence). 2) How to plan and visualize myself in the future (should I remodel my house? or get a new loan? etc.). 3) How can I continue expanding myself and living fully after the cancer, without needing to focus on it? (the cancer).
Do you think it’s realistic to live without fear of recurrence, or might it be necessary to accept that you scare yourself (understandably), but still plan and visualize your future? From a Live Conscious perspective, acceptance is vital. Think about that, “acceptance is vital,” and part of what we do when we don’t accept is we quash our vitality.
Yes, I experienced that. I felt a great vitality. There was a sense of urgency in the first year after diagnosis, so I had myself operating from the “here and now” on a day-to-day basis. After that urgency passed I replaced it with “what is really important,” here, now and in my future…. until my last breath.
Does that question, “what is really important?” help you live in the present without fear? Does it help you plan and visualize your future?
That question actually works pretty well, I think that the cancer (and death, mainly) they put life into a different perspective. Also when I find myself having to respond to a difficult situation I ask myself “what would I like to think about myself in terms of how I handle this conflict?” or “how would I like to be remembered in regards to this?”…These questions help me to pause myself, get re-organized, if I need to, and choose my response in order to feel that I can maintain my sense of integrity which is a very important value for me.
As far as not focusing on the cancer—I wonder if you are trying to disconnect from that part of you? I concern myself when I see people trying to push away some part of themselves. I’m not sure it’s even possible and I think when we suppress one part, it shows up some other way. Why not accept this cancer part of you. Like every part it will have it’s ebbs and flows. Over time you may learn how to calm this part of you, to soothe yourself.
Indeed I think that I need more time to continue processing how much I have been able to grow with the cancer experience. There is still some disconnection, but I think that it is related to my grief about the parts of my body I needed to let go of. So for me, this is about acceptance, but I think that I am able to embrace the fact that after all, I connected with a deeper part of myself when I was going through all of this. I also want to use that growth and information to be at peace when my real time for departure will come (even if that is hopefully in at least 40 more years). As a Spanish poet said, “when I finally will die….it will not be the 1st time..”
When you think back, did Live Conscious and Perception Language play a significant role for you in how you dealt with cancer?
Absolutely. My whole approach to the healing process was greatly impacted by the use of Perception Language . I remember that within myself, I did not experience anger or need to waste time asking myself the common “why me?” I used Perception Language as a way of relating with myself and to the cancer in a more realistic way, thinking “it is what it is”. . . so . . . what can I do and how can I be with myself through this process? I used Live Conscious to access my inner resources so I could heal myself as consciously as I could, or die me in peace. Both Live Conscious and Perception Language helped me to not fall into a victim position which I think would have been unproductive and damaging to my healing process and the opportunity of growing from my cancer experience.
What’s the best thing that you’ve done as a result of your cancer?
I love myself for noticing that every day, I have an opportunity to provide myself with 24 brand new hours ahead of me, where I can practice awareness and experience myself awake and fully alive while I am still here.
I appreciate you for having this conversation with me in a public forum. You’ve been part of our Live Conscious community for a long time, and so many of us inspired ourselves as we witnessed the way you dealt with cancer. I hope others will benefit from our brief conversation—and for those of you reading this, please comment or ask questions and we will respond.
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