Hi. This is me. Babz Chula speaking. I’m curled up with stomach distress from what I imagine chemo does to the intestines and general digestive tract. Yet, despite, and in spite, of stomach cramps and chemo and cancer and all the discomforts of sickness and old age, my spirit is soaring. And this is because I am buoyed and bouncing from your good will and your unabashed…well…love.
I don’t know if any one of you can imagine what it is like to be me right now. I mean, on paper this situation looks fairly dire. I certainly would not have believed you if you told me a year ago what my life would look like today. And as dire and dreary as it looks in black and white, you must believe me when I tell you that it is not quite my reality. Not nearly.
I have a treatment every morning. Three mornings a week it is Ukrain, and on Tues and Thurs I have an extensive colonic with an implant of coffee and herbs. Once every three weeks I have chemo in an IV, followed by two weeks on and two weeks off of a series of oral chemo drugs. This is all to address my breast cancer. Once every three months I have a “smart” chemo drug called Rituxan, for my blood cancer. It is often accompanied by an IgG treatment. During the day I take as many as 40 pills, some are medications, and some are supplements. I drink, on any given day, from two to ten powdery mixtures ranging from greens to various clays.
Every morning, before I leave the house, I sit in a far infra-red sauna for an hour, and follow that with a cool bath. I try to do this nightly, as well. There is dry skin brushing, supplements, massage, when available, juicing when I’m really together….and all sorts of small and constant little attentions that healing demands. The difficult part, however, is not this. It is getting from place to place. Somehow, this just takes the jam out of me. All the driving. The getting in and out. Going up stairs and down. The waiting, the gas prices, stupid drivers, and road construction. I often weep at the wheel….even at the simple thought of being home, in my bed. Please understand, I never weep out of self pity. It is always sheer exhaustion. Tears of fatigue. More like sweating is to exercise. I just cry. For all of it.
Often I nap when I arrive back home, but eventually, I get down to what has become the business of my life. Perhaps some day soon, when it becomes clearer, I will be able to call it a livelihood. Right now it is the period of transition that comes with the Transformation that this challenge of cancer demands. I often wish I could pick and choose the things…the qualities.. .the values…of my former life. I wish I could keep some things and discard others. But the reality is that it all goes up in the air, and you don’t get to keep the things you like about yourself, and lose the things you don’t. It all goes up in one big smokey cloud, and all you can save from the fire are bits and pieces…often not even things that seem to fit together.
I get thru my afternoons doing the Babz Chula Society business. I receive another very lovely letter of support, and I maintain that my life is the luckiest kind one could ever wish to live: A life busy with the business of healing, and currently filled with letters of support and loving thoughts from people all over the world.
Throughout this week, of all weeks that have come before in my 61 years, I’ve been deeply stirred by a kind of magic. Magic, but real. OK. Magic realism, if you like. It has crept into my world. Many candles are burning in our home and flowers are arranged in gorgeous array. Several strangers and casual acquaintances, as well as dear old friends and family, dear family, have come forward to offer support.
Miraculously, one of my liver enzyme counts, raging some 400 points above scale a mere 14 days ago, has lowered to just above 200. And my sweet boy, my lovely youngest male child who suffers currently in respect to a dark and ugly episode from his past that has returned like a recurring bad dream, most amazingly has found a kind of grace and dignity as he faces its evil memory. I am floored by what I believe is love, manifest.
I mean, despite and apart from the powerful dose of chemotherapy I received at 2pm this afternoon, I am floored. That is, laying on the floor, unable to move, except for my fingers clicking along as if on automatic….and, I guess, my brain, for it is all true what they say about chemo and brains. Stupid. And tired. Stupidly tired. A bad combo, this chemo brain.
So. This is what I mean to say: we never forget an act of kindness. Even if we cannot quite place the face or circumstance, our body memory has registered the gesture and it is in a sparkling moment of reflex that one recognizes what is familiar. I must remember that wanting credit for these gestures dilutes the power that they generate, and neutralizes the very act of generosity itself.
The ego just wants to win. No matter what. And it will win at any cost, even by trickery or cheating. No qualms. No conscience. Our hearts swelling with pride at our own goodness is really nothing more than smug satisfaction. There is a big picture. A really big picture. It is not about good or bad, or right or wrong. It is just this: Nobody gets to go home until we all get to go home.
There’s no first place or last place. No win or lose. So, I think, that if l am able to get there at some point that I should not worry about whether or not I am “well enough” or “strong enough” and that I need to simply get to India as soon as I can, or Southeast Asia, or Eastern Europe or Main and Hastings, and that, I must begin to speak to and do for others and attempt to inspire in them some sort of generosity…small gestures that move out and up…tiny acts of courage and humour…moments of lightness and mirth. This world can seem so damning. So dreary and sodden. Healing is needed in every corner. A finger to point the way home. A light to shine upon the path.
I am so often lost and alone. So often swooning in fear and terror and lacking in faith. I pray for the strength to leave my ego behind. And it is surely strength I need, because the ego is a muscle to be thrown down and wrestled to submission. I ask to be spontaneous. To simply trust my impulses. To “do” and not to think about “doing”.. I pledge to you that I shall set aside practice time each morning so that I may become a gentle, peaceful warrior, skilled and adept at service. For one day it will be my great honor to support you as you have so generously given support to me.
I am so grateful for my challenges. They inform my life. They make it worth my living it. They give the inevitability of my death great value and meaning, Unlike before, when I chose not to contemplate dying.
These challenges bring color to my cheeks and a hearty robust contradiction to all the things that cancer threatens to do to a body. I laugh more than ever. Deep laughter. Belly laughter. I cry, too. More than ever. Deep crying. From my soul. And more often than ever for the other guy. Really! This is truly the blessing. I just find myself losing the ability to separate myself from another. From the “other”. Just more looking out. Less “me me me”.
I used to spend more time looking at myself and now all I can do is look at you. You are so beautiful. I cannot turn away. How can I possibly stop looking at you? I love you so dearly.
And I thank you for the all the beauty you’ve brought to my life.