So I don't even know how to begin to explain a deep dream come true. I was given a gift. I opened my heart to the energy of the universe, I asked in whispers to see life more fully, to breathe more deeply, to feel it all, to be, now, present, awake.
You never really know in what package your gift will arrive. If you are really open to the gift, you take it all. My gift came wrapped in fear, a threat of death, a fading away, a son losing his mother, a family losing their girl. I heard a story about my future that seemed unbelievable, sad, not a dream I had dreamed in the grass looking up into the sky so long ago. Here I am in the place I dreamed, the heart I dreamed I would be growing but not this ending....and still I accepted it. My heart grew bigger, my eyes clearer, my mind more quiet, spirit open to every possibility and still I felt thankful, grateful, sad and joyful. I wrapped my arms around the package and cared for all of it, the gift, the wrapping, the box, all delicately carried under my arm and I said yes.
I looked farther, I stepped in and reached up. Monday as I breathed into my unfolding day at Mass General in Boston I smiled at my circumstance and accepted it. It was a great letting go. We met with Dr. Norbert Liebsch to discuss my 38 day proton beam radiation treatment. I smiled, listened, and wrote down my questions. He is so amazing, professional, gentle, generous, informed, on the ball and down to earth. He told me a different story, a different version of my cancer, my chondrosarcoma, a version completely different than the one I had heard twice at two different places at different times. There is no urgency, there is no impending doom, no sign of the cancerous tumor left, no re-growth, no fear of metastasizing. No need for radiation...
Take a breath, wait 6 months, get new scans, live my life, open to the hope that this is not the time. I felt elated, relieved and grateful. I was already so grateful for the journey. I have been so very in the moment for months, I feel everything, so viscerally, every cell, every molecule, every heartbeat and my yes has become a thank you.
The gift is still under my arm but I can release the wrapping. It may come in a different form and I am ready but the gift is here, with me now, always, in this very moment and this one and this one and this one.....
The hospital, the staff, Dr. Norbert Liebsch are all amazing. The hospital is state of the art. Dr. Liebsch is one of the top oncologists for chondrosarcoma in the world. Mass General is one of a very few hospitals that offer Proton Beam radiation. They have an amazing cancer treatment center, very inviting, friendly, warm, supportive staff. They are cutting edge. I felt very safe, I trusted every one I met. It was very peaceful. They are very helpful. Chondrosarcoma is very slow growing, rarely, rarely metastasizes, doesn't usually cause other problems unless it grows into areas of the brain or brain stem that can be pressured by the tumor. My tumor was touching my brain. 95% of his patients don't have surgery to remove the tumor, the radiation controls the growth. It works. It is very effective. Talk to him before you get surgery, before you grow your fear. My surgery was so thorough that Dr. Daniel Prevedello at UPMC removed 100% of the tumor. Dr. Liebsch couldn't see any evidence of the tumor and thought that the surgery was well done, amazing. I was blessed, I was lucky, I am deeply grateful. I won't set my gift down, or store it under the bed in a pretty box, or tuck into the pages of my favorite book. I will carry my gift always and I still say yes, I have let go of the grip and I feel free. I dance with my fingertips grazing the veil of the night sky and I am not afraid, for the first time in my life. This year, which started for me in July, seemed to be about endings, illness, but has been instead about beginnings, life, beauty and love, deep love, even before this Monday at Mass General with wonderful Dr. Norbert Liebsch.