Thank you all for coming tonight. It really means a lot to have great turnout like this. So I hope we get to play together a little bit. I’m a little bit nervous, but I think that will go as we go. I, as most of us, struggle a little bit with the word survivorship. What is survivorship Who is a survivor Who isn’t a survivor So I started with this lecture by looking up on Wikipedia, what does it mean Who’s a cancer survivor And Wikipedia says, a cancer survivor.
Is a person with cancer of any type, which is still living. And so that’s a really broad definition. And there are a lot of differences about how people define themselves. Some think that you become a survivor at the time of your diagnosis, and other people think that you become a survivor at the end of treatment. Some people think that if you are actively dying, you’re still a survivor until you actually pass away. And on the other end of the spectrum, we’ve got some people who have friends and family members that.
Have cancer, and they also consider themselves survivors. Because they understand that, in some way, they are deeply impacted by cancer, and it has changed their lives, as well. So no matter where each of us is in that category, once cancer is found, there is really no other way than turning into our wholehearted healing on all levels. And really, for the rest of our lives however long or short that maybe. And that is both a huge gift and an immense challenge. So that’s what I want to talk about tonight.
Living it Forward Gifts and Challenges of Cancer Survivorship
Oh, before I do that go back. I want to do a little exercise with all of you, just so that I can see a little bit of where you are in your survivorship. And I promise I’ll play, too. So I want to see who we are tonight as a community, with the understanding that we stand for a bigger circle. It’s always that way. Certain people show up and there’s a lot of the community behind us. But if we can take a pulse tonight, and just see where we are in our survivorship,.
I would love that. So if you’re willing to play, I would ask you to stand up, if you’re in your first year as a survivor. And I’m not going to make any rules up about, is that from diagnosis, or the end of treatment. It doesn’t matter to me. Just whatever you have in your heart. First year of survivorship. Thank you for standing up. That’s beautiful. Thank you. So we’re in the first year, first year of survivorship. Please stay standing. And so how about the second year Anybody in the you can keep standing, because, eventually,.
We want to all stand up. So second year of survivorship, stand up. OK. Third year. OK. Fourth year. This is why I’m standing up, too. And five Great. Do we have somewhere between 6 and 10 Do we have over 10 years OK. Great. Thank you all. All right. Now I’ll tell you just a little bit about me. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This is really what matters for me. What Holly said was really nice, but this is really why I’m speaking to you tonight. Not because I’m a wilderness rite of passage guide,.
Or whatever. But simply because I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. And I have a few pics. That’s my old me. That’s the inevitable short haircut before you go through chemo. That’s the obvious must have chemo picture. And this brings us to today. So I have some information here, on reaching me, if you’re interested. Later on, you can come and ask me, also. I have a business card and a flyer that is over there with Holly, that you can grab on your way out, if you’d like to.
If you take nothing away tonight from the talk but three messages that are in the next slide, I think it’s already a great night. So here are the three messages that we are forever changed through cancer. And it sounds really simple, but I think it’s really hard to validate that for ourselves. Everybody wants us to move on, and so do we. But what does moving on really mean So we’re going to get into that. Number two is that we’re on a lifelong path to healing and wholeness.
And what that means is that we don’t have the luxury to take breaks. There’s a sense that we are always sitting on our meditation pillow. We are always trying, on all levels, to do whatever it takes to wholeheartedly heal forward. Because we don’t know if cancer is going to come back. And that makes us a very particular breed of people. And we are all elders. And that’s probably the weirdest thing that you’re going to hear me say tonight, and I’ll explain it later on. Because we don’t talk in our society about elders.
We talk about people being old. But the elders is more like somebody who’s initiated, and who has wisdom to impart. So we’re going to get into that. The medical journey can give the impulse to healing with surgery, and whatever treatments, but it’s only the beginning of a really long healing process. And once treatment is complete, we are usually left with an important and sometimes overwhelmingfeeling job, to heal our body, to heal our mind, our spirit, our soul, and to live this healing forward into a completely unknown territory.
You know, territory of percentages, where you have this much recurrence. And as someone said to me once, it’s a very medical definition to say that it’s a 20 chance. Because the truth is, if you have a recurrence, it’s 100 for you. We don’t live in percentages. This is the work I do. And these are one of my favorite trees. They’re the bristle cone pines. They’re, like, 5,000 years, and older. And sometimes, you don’t know whether they’re thriving, or whether they’re dying, or whether they’re doing both at the same time.
But they certainly know how to hang in there for a really long time. So I wanted to bring them into the show tonight, and wanted to talk a little bit about what I do as a wilderness guide, so it makes any kind of sense. We take people out into nature. And it’s usually people that have gone through some pretty significant change in their lives, and they want to, somehow they can’t be who they were before. So some kind of often, a little trauma. It might have been a divorce.
It might have been a loss of somebody. And they come to sit out on the earth by themselves, and basically remove themselves, and go back with a new understanding. And we put them through some pretty rough stuff. We don’t feed them. They fast while they’re out. And they’re alone, and they don’t have a lot of shelter. So they’re really out in the natural world by themselves. Who does this kind of thing People, usually, that are going through something that we call a growth crisis. And when I was diagnosed with cancer, that was my question.
Can cancer be a growth crisis Because one of the things that I realized right away when I got diagnosed, is that my life irrevocably changed. It’s something, in the wilderness work, that we call severance. It’s, like, the moment when life is over, the way you knew it. And you know that you can never, ever go back. You cannot step back over that line. And that’s very true for our ceremony in nature. And I found to be very true in my own cancer journey. And so I had this question for myself could cancer.
Be an initiation, instead of just something horrible that happened Could there be any goodness in it Could it somehow prepare us for something bigger And so I’m going to look at what does it mean, initiation. I’m going to go with some quotes from Michael Meade, who is a really big name in wilderness rites of passage. He says, Initiatory events are those that mark a man or a woman’s life forever, that pull a person deeper into life than they would normally choose to go. Is that true for cancer.
I would think so. Initiatory events are those that define who a person is, or cause some power to erupt from them, or strip everything from them until all that is left is their essential self. That sound familiar Maybe In initiation a person becomes no one before becoming someone again. Again, does that apply to cancer It certainly felt that way, when I was at the bottom of my cauldron, during chemotherapy. So life, really, is initiating us all the time. It’s just that sometimes we do certain ceremonies to acknowledge it, and other times life actually comes in.
So I do think that cancer really can be a rite of passage, and that if we look at it in that way, it can actually be an invitation to come alive. So for that to make a little bit more sense, I’m going to talk about the threestage model of rites of passage, and to see how that actually applies to cancer. I already spoke a little bit about severance, which is the moment when life changes. And there are other examples which is death of a loved one, marriage, divorce, trauma,.
Sickness. In our cancer world, it would be diagnosis the moment that we lose our old life. And then there is the threshold, which is the time in the liminal world. Some call it the hero or the heroine’s journey, the inbetween place, the underworld cauldron, ceremony of any sort. A place where you really cannot see in the dark. You have to feel your way through. In the cancer world, we create that with treatment. And then there’s reincorporation, which is reemerging as a new person in the world rebirth,.
Sharing, and airing of gifts, renewal, manifestation, marking a new life, true maturity. And that would be survivorship. That’s the place where we all sit today. It’s the potential of what we get to live into, after having encountered cancer. So ta da we ‘re here. Survivorship! And it’s interesting to note that survivorship often seems to be the hardest part. Not when we’re diagnosed, but looking back, it seems like treatment was, relatively, a time of great support the time where we could just let go into it, and just did our best to get through.
But that living it forward ends up being the hardest part of the whole journey. And so that’s what we’re going to explore tonight. And so the first thing I want to do is go back to that very first slide, and talk about message number one. We are forever changed through cancer. So what does it mean What does it mean to be forever changed I think our culture has very little concept for people changing. We are on a very linear trajectory, where you set out something, and then that’s where you’re going.
And people do not like you to change. People also are not really taught that death is at all a part. Death, leaving, doesn’t really have a place in our culture. So if you are touched by that in any way, shape or form, they get very uncomfortable. And family and friends often can’t understand why we don’t come back to normal. And I hear this all the time people saying, you know, my yoga group is the only place where I can feel like I’m really heard. Or I’m going to my support group, and they get it,.
But my old friends still don’t. Everybody is waiting, after treatment, that I get back to be normal, and I just cannot do it. So in a way, there is, like, a death that we’re grieving. We’re grieving our old self, which we may or may not be as fully, or we are inhabiting our lives differently as survivors. And then there is the death that our parents, that our lovers, sometimes our children, experience in us having changed, if they’re not ready to give up who we were before. So a lot of friction.
And I think, just as an example of how it used to be, when we were living a little bit more cyclically in more indigenous cultures, there was more of a sense that you are moving through certain phases in your life, and that they were acknowledged within your community, and within your family. That, for example, young boys at a certain age, when they were ready for initiation young boys were taken from their mothers’ homes, and they were dragged, at night. There were men, sometimes they would be in masks,.
And they would drag the boy away from the hut. And the mothers would wail, and say, don’t take him. And then they would go on their little ritual, and they would come back, days later. And the boy had a new standing in the village, and the mothers had done their grieving. And from that moment on, that young man was carrying a new name, and living in a new way, acknowledged by everybody that they were a new person. We’ve lost that in our culture. It’s not a concept that is familiar anymore.
So I want to use this concept, called the Four Shields of Human Nature, to talk about the different gifts and challenges in each of our pieces of ourselves. So the four shields without going into a lot of detail, they’re basically like a road map. They’re coming from some of the old traditional medicine wheels that have tracked changes in life for indigenous cultures for a very long time. And these have been handed down to me from my esteemed teachers, Steven and Meredith Little, from the School of Lost Borders.
So I’m using this model just to speak to changes in our body, psyche, mind, and spirit, and in the model of we call a becomingness. So not just who we were, who we are now, or who we’re going to be. But that we are truly always moving, and evolving, and becoming. The first one that I want to talk about is the South Shield. And I tried to get you an image that really evokes it, without me having to talk a lot about it. So you can really feel into that little girl,.
Running through the grass at the height of summer. Everything is possible total expansion. That’s our instinctual self, when it’s really well. That’s the place that we all have in ourselves. That little child that loves to play, that is very fluid. That’s why the element we put with it is water the sense of being, very fluid, being very open, being very in touch with our senses. Tasting, smelling everything adventurous. So you can imagine yourselves like this, and what happened to your self’s shield when you’ve got the diagnosis of cancer.
It’s, like, bam! And the very first challenge in the South the way that the body reacts to any trauma is a fight, flight, and freeze. So that’s really what most of us go through, when we first got diagnosed. But even later on, once we’re in survivorship, there’s something about the trauma sometimes we call it violence in an innocent world. It’s like the sense that something could happen to you. That you are just not like you were. It’s, like, the Garden of Eden isn’t intact anymore. And so a lot of us deal with anxiety that comes up,.
Fear that gets heightened sometimes, by the next scan, or the next whatever it is, symptoms that come up randomly. And part of it is that. Part of it is the trauma that has occurred through cancer, which oftentimes isn’t just the trauma that was just induced by cancer, but also has this way of poking into anything that was ever damaged in this health shield. So if you had a childhood that had a lot of trauma, that will certainly be revisited in the process of having had cancer. It brings it back up.
So some of the challenges that we experience in our own instinctual nature is that sense of trusting our own instincts, that trusting our own wellness losing the definition of who we are. Feeling the body’s mortality, and not feeling this feeling of, like, summer will never end. And so any major change in health rocks the sense of self. And feeling powerless is part of that. Sometimes, having doctors and others act like parents for us is like that. Not knowing what to do, which treatment to pick, what action to take.
There is a safety that is taken away from us, that leaves us cracked open. But there are also gifts in it. So a lot of us, through this process, the other end of it is that we learn to turn into what our body needs. And eventually, as we are working ourselves through survivorship, we are learning to trust that little voice inside that tells us what we need. Part of it is because we really need to. We cannot, often, come out of treatment buffering the way that we used to buffer.
We have to take care of ourselves in a different way. We have create a new relationship with ourselves. Some people call it flowing with the river, rather than pushing it. Recovering some sense of our innate goodness in our belonging, maybe having less responsibilities, and letting ourselves off the hook a little bit more. Mary Oliver calls it, letting the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Sometimes, in survivorship, we are more able to actually give ourselves that, than a lot of people that are just adults, and don’t take.
As good care of their own inner fluidity and instinctual self. So that brings us to the West Shield. And the West Shield is dark. It’s the dark shield. It’s, as we can see, the fall from Eden. So it really is where the hero’s journey lies, where we face our fears, and go through what I call the dark night of soul. It’s the place of turning our intent, our attention, to who I think I really am. So in the South, it’s more like whatever my parents tell me.
In the West is the investigation of, what does it really mean for me So making our own meaning, in our soul and in our psyche, is very necessary. And oftentimes, in both treatment and survivorship, we go really, really down into that darkness. And we ponder the big questions of our lives there, in a way that not a lot of people get to do. And in a way that oftentimes doesn’t really sound very easy. I know, for myself, that I came up with some of those really bare bones, deep questions that.
Were related to my own psyche, that I didn’t know I had. Things like, feeling that somehow I deserve something bad. That I am somehow bad, that there’s something wrong with me. And again, none of these feelings were really that new to me. But they really became part of my awareness, once I was walking with cancer. So I would put here, also, evaluations of how to sit with change. How to sit with grief and loss. How to turn into who I am now, and what I really want to do with this one precious, wild life.
A deep questioning of core values and the gifts that are in that, is that we really get to individuate in this way. That by asking these deep questions, there is a new meaning, that we are oftentimes finding some kind of gift in the wound. And we’re often finding that we are like Phoenix, rising from the ashes. Sometimes, people use cancer to shed things that truly no longer serve. Whether it be a profession, a relationship that needed to shift, or simply their way of taking care of themselves.
So there is finding our true voice, and our authentic beingness in here. And letting die away whatever no longer serves. One of the beautiful things is that we cannot afford anymore to drag baggage along with us that we’d be better off without. So the West Shield is giving us a chance to actually shed that. OK. So we’re coming into the North, and that’s the season of winter. And it’s really the adult stage of our lives, and in a lot of ways, I feel that survivorship is very strong in the North.
One of the understandings, oftentimes, arising out of cancer, is that we cannot do it alone, that it takes a village, that it takes support. And there is an incredible support that gets created, and an incredible way of community that gets created, some of which we can feel tonight. There is a thread that we have with people that have been through what we’ve been through. So in the North, we put ourselves back together, in a way. And sometimes, that means in a very responsible way making decisions. It could be decisions about a living will.
It could be decisions about a job. It could be decisions about putting your affairs in order. There’s a sense of responsibility that comes together, that comes from a place of wholeness, and really having turned into whatever challenge is there. So it’s a sense of accepting the greater picture, and putting our best foot forward, and making the life choices. We often say that this shield is the place in ourselves where we air ourselves, where we make decisions about what is good for us, and what it’s not. So any new practices, that you have brought out.
In survivorship to help you support yourself, would be living here. Like, whether you have a yoga practice, or a different diet, or whatever it is that you’ve decided to do, you have to make that decision to stick to that practice. If you just let yourself be swept away by how great it is, you might do it three days, and not go any further with it. But the North Shield is really like that North Star, that keeps you on track. And so the gifts, in this way, are a lot about selfcare.
And I think there is a very special kind of selfcare that we get to learn, after having had cancer, or while we’re even still living with cancer. And that is that the care of others and self are truly not separate. That, in order to take care of everyone else, we need to take care of ourselves. That by taking care of ourselves, we are truly serving others. And so that’s really different, because we get taught a lot about sacrifice and taking care of our children. But again, our own wellness is going to be the focus for us.
And in that way, there’s a gift in that, and an allowance in that. Because we know that the best favor we can do our children, for example, is to live as healthily as we can. Because we never know. Because of course, nobody ever knows. But we know that we don’t know, and that’s the difference. So there’s the life change manifestations here. And there’s also the place where the work really begins. It’s how can I share what I brought out from the cancer journey, and somehow be in the world with that.
What’s the legacy I want to do for myself Like, I know for me, I was stuck in a job that I had outgrown a long time ago. And once I went through cancer, I let go. It was very obvious to me that if I was thinking about dying, if I was realizing that, indeed, I was going to die and not just one fine day but I needed to put my life where my heart was. That was really important to me. So oftentimes, really, cancer is a chance for us.
To find the pebble that’s in our shoe, wherever that is, and to set our life straight. And we start worrying differently. So it’s not so much if we’re going to die. The conversation of if we’re going to die moves to when we’re going to die. We have a different understanding that that will indeed happen. We can feel it. But we start being more concerned about how death is going to find us. How much are we going to have made peace with our lives How fully will we have lived our lives.
And it gives us an incredible courage to step forward and do some of the things that we would have never dared to dream about, otherwise. So we’re going back to message number two and that’s that we’re in a lifelong path to healing and wholeness. And so that’s part of what I’ve already spoken to. And I just want to say that one of the things that I often use as a metaphor is that when we turn into our healing after cancer, it’s as if we move from the practice of our living.
To the practice of our living and dying. And they’re no longer separate. There is a sense, somehow, that they belong together. And that because we have a foot in each world, life becomes very precious to us. And so it depends on there are times in our lives, where we really fight that. And then there are, other times, where we really revel in it. We can have it let us set free, in a lot of ways. And in other ways, sometimes, we can let us also sit in the depth, and darkness,.
And the depression of it. We certainly can’t have the sense of safety back, that we may have had, and confidence that our body will not fail us, that other people might still be walking around with. And yet, we have a kind of a courage and a chance, when the moment that we’re diagnosed, all the way until we, one fine day, make dying our greatest healing yet. Anyway, that’s the trajectory that I’m heading for. All the way, in between those two, I have time to live the life that I was here.
To live, and to give, and to receive. And that is a precious gift that we all share, because we are initiated through cancer. And I want to bring it around to I’ve already kind of feel myself going over there, to the East Shield, which is what we call the spring, and the illumination, the spirit, and the place of transformation. And a lot of people now talk about postcancer benefits. So that’s basically what that would look like. Some of the healing impulse of living the new story, and opening to the mystery of life.
And getting some kind of an understanding, from the depths of our surrender, of the beauty that surrounds us, and the preciousness of this life, of this moment. No matter what’s tomorrow, but here right here, right now. Any kind of big realizations that we get, that feel kind of, like, our download. It’s the place where we realize or the moments in between where we realize that all but love is just a misunderstanding. It’s that light that really partners the dark. That we often feel. So in a way, our edges are sharper as survivors.
But also, our light is a lot brighter. Our spirit light shines a lot brighter. There is a lightness to us. It’s almost like we know our light body better. Whatever you want to equate that with spirit, or God a place where there’s a lot of creativity, and amuse, and juiciness of magic, if you will, where you feel like you’re getting the big picture of life. Yeah. And so that brings me to message number three, which is that we are all elders, no matter our age. And I think that sometimes is really challenging for us.
Especially for the younger ones of us, that get diagnosed, they go through cancer. They go through this whole initiation process. And we live in a society, again, where we have a lot of old people that are just old, that they’re really not very mature. So eldering means having been to the center of your wheel, having looked into the depth of your own shadow, having swam around your own cauldron, and come back out into the light. And the younger we are, the more challenging it is to live with eldering.
A lot of the effects of cancer and survivorship while they’re in treatment it’s, like, the effects are debilitating, a lot of times. But later on, in survivorship, a lot of the effects posttreatment are actually just premature eldering. So that includes anything and everything, from constipation, to sleeplessness, to menopause, to you name it. All the different things, and then all the different risks of other diseases, like Alzheimer’s, and so forth. And not for nothing, when we come back from chemotherapy, most of us have very white hair, slowly turning into gray.
And then slowly, if we’re lucky, recovering our regular color, or maybe some new color. There’s a sense of really being pushed towards our eldering. And I think we often just think that that’s a terrible thing. It’s like, oh God, I’m going to grow older early now, too. But there is not just the faster aging of our bodies. Proportionately with that, our spirit is also turning stronger and stronger. So again, because we can hold both of these paradigms not just the challenge, but also the gift there’s something very precious.
If you watch a person that is an elder, an old elder somebody who is of, say, importance in their community they often have a lightness to themselves. They don’t carry a lot of baggage anymore. They’ve made their way around their own wheel of life. They’ve made it good with their choices. They have put their affairs in order. Now they can just live with a lightness and an openheartedness that we all so need around us. And so those are all things that are open to us, because we are survivors.
And there is a regular movement in our eldering, I think, that happens. It just gets sped up through cancer. Sometimes I call this a decision to steward our lives, instead of owning it. You know, there’s a lightness to it. There’s not so much the selfishness that’s driving us. And even the service of others isn’t driving us in the same way that it was before. It comes more from a place of ease, than from a place of need. Something about living in grace, and in gratitude for the preciousness of life.
So I want to finish this with a quote, and a couple more shots, before I take some of your questions, if you have any. Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strengths that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter. And that I would add, that as much as life is not permanent, which is the big lesson that we all learn when we get cancer, death also is not permanent.
There’s a real sense of, for me, oftentimes nature is the place where I go because it is not linear. Because somehow, when I’m on the earth, I can be held. It’s big enough to hold my entire spectrum the dark, the light, and everything in between, and it’s mirrored that way. So we are not off the map as survivors. We are in the map of our humanness, and we’re living it, I believe, in a fuller way. And we’re asked to step into ourselves in a fuller way. And I believe that wholeheartedly.
No matter what our prognosis is, it’s not about whether we are healthy, or not. Because as we all know, that shifts, right You can be a survivor today. You could have a recurrence tomorrow. And you can have Stage 4 something today, and you can be healthy tomorrow. And there is no defining ourselves that way, any longer. So we find ourselves, our strength and our humanness, in a really different way. So Holly already mentioned this. I do I lead some programs in nature. Well, we’re doing just that.
We’re finding ways to be out in nature, in groups of people. And here’s a picture from our last group. And it’s usually to mark a journey into a healing, and to use that time in nature to have solo time, and time together in group. And if you’re interested in that, I have a little flier here, that I think Holly has some copies of. So you can pick some up, if you’d like to. And I think that’s it. So there’s my information there. And I hope this made any sense to you.
APPLAUSE Are there any questions things that you’d like to state, or talk about What do you say to people, when they ask you well, your treatments are finished, so where does that leave you Are you cured You know, that’s kind of that open question that people ask. Is there a way of putting that, what you’ve just said, putting that into a talking point Great question. I’m going to repeat it, as best I can. Because they told me I had to, so that they get it on the recording.
So what do I say to somebody, when they ask me, are you out of treatment And so are you OK now That’s kind of the question. Can we move past this now Can we move past this now You know, I sometimes say to people, do you want to do you want to have the twosentence answer, the twominute, or the twohour Like, I try to push them back. Because most people really don’t want to deal with it. They want to just have you say, yeah, I’m OK. And it’s a way to really stand our ground,.
And say no, I’m not OK. And without so many words, but energetically, really, what you’re saying to them is like, you don’t want to face this. That’s your own problem. But I’m not going to go away. This is where I am. If you can’t deal with it, that’s your problem. So it’s obviously not that easy. But what I want to do, is just empower you to not just having to say what they want to hear to say very and depending on who it is is it really.
Somebody that matters to you Because sometimes, we get asked by people that just kind of ride on our misfortune. They have that look about like, I feel so sorry for you. I hope you’re going to be OK now. And it just feels like, oh, you’re going to die, too, one day. Maybe you’ll get diagnosed tomorrow. So there is all sorts of people. And I think the point I want to make is that it’s really important to create your own safe boundaries. You don’t owe them anything. You get to be who you are, and you.
Can show yourself as much as the situation is really asking for. So we say sometimes, in our work, don’t give your power away. Don’t make yourself small. And I know that’s difficult, sometimes. Is this talk going to be available, or broadcast, like, on your website, or somewhere else Yeah. I think Stanford Watch it and share with other OK. Yeah. Stanford will host the talk, and I will put it on my blog, as well, hopefully if I still like it. I’m coming up to four years posttransplant for leukemia.
It saved my life, right here. Oh, great. In a clinical trial. But there is a book by a professor at the University of Santa Clara, my alma mater. It’s called Super Survivors. I read a review of it fascinating. Some people don’t just survive, they boom! They explode, like you alluded to, and the phenomenal things. I don’t consider myself a super survivor, but I had an explosion of unexplained creativity. And I published a book that wouldn’t have happened, had I died. You know dying like I should’ve. Yeah.
This is great. I just this is a hard venue for me. This is my first public slide show. And when I lead groups, we sit in circle with, like, 8, 9, 10 people. And we talk, and it’s a conversation. So I’m so glad for this piece of it, because it makes it so much more human. And oftentimes, this is what will draw the stuff out of me. So if I can just rephrase what you said you talked about this incredible book, that’s called Super Survivors. And you’ve talked about how you don’t consider.
Yourself a super survivor. But you have published a book. You have had some kind of an awakening and a blossoming out of the story And the title it’s a flip book, it’s 60 poems, 50 pieces of art, and 34 charted songs it’s called, the title is A Human Becoming. Wonderful. And you alluded to that. Yes. Wonderful. And the flipside is Words of Melody the music. Yes, A Human Becoming. So I really, honestly think that sometimes oftentimes, we see these manifestations of creativity and vision. You know, the things people take.
Trips they’ve wanted to take all their lives. People say, I don’t care what other people think. They start wearing different clothes. Whatever it is, it can be small or big. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we grab ahold of our life, of this one precious life, and we remember ourselves in our becomingness. Like you said, like your book was called A Human Becoming. Right. Yeah. That’s wonderful. Thank you. Yeah. Great. I have a question, and I’m sure all of us have it. It’s that little, tiny voice, sometimes,.
You get in the back of your head like, what about recurrence out there I mean, everybody we all go through our daytoday things. But it’s always that little, tiny voice. And you can’t really talk about it with the other people in your life, because they don’t get it. They really don’t. So how do we all deal with that So the question was, how do we deal with our fear, that little voice inside, that says, oh my God what if I’m going to get a recurrence Yeah. I think so the question was, how do we all deal with that.
And I think the biggest thing is to lose the illusion that we could fix that voice. We think, oh, I’m going to outgrow that voice. Or I’m going to and to a certain degree, yeah. That voice will go through changes, and there will be days where it’s not there. And there will be other days where it’s there. They’ll be the little headaches sneaking in. And we think, oh. I think the hardest part is to be gentle with ourselves, and to truly know that this is our own fear.
It is that trauma, and we have to parent it in ourselves. Not to make it wrong, not to push it away, but to just over and over, say, yes, I know this is hard. And there is no safety. And there are times I can tell for myself, that there are times I’m really flying high in my survivorship. And there are other times where I get really anxious, and I have periods I don’t know why. I can’t explain them, where I have a lot of what I call posttraumatic stress disorder.
Nobody wants to name it that, but I think we all have it. And so again, there’s power in acknowledging what’s here, and partnering it. I think, as we work with it, at some point we don’t identify with it as much. But we learn how to partner it more. And I think it’s a lifelong learning path. And we don’t get to go off of our pillow. We sit every day. We have to face that mirror. We have to face that wall, whatever it is. There is no knowing.
And the truth is there isn’t any knowing for anyone, but we are living on the edge. But because of that, like the gentleman said, we’re also living on the edge of our becoming, all the time. Ta da! And that’s the gift. But I think and just one more thing. So the thing is, really, that we can’t go back. And I think we suffer more when we try to be where we’re not, or who we are not anymore. That’s when it’s really hard. It’s like, if whatever we’ve lost, that in our new life.
Isn’t present anymore, that’s sad. But if we can celebrate what is here now, that wasn’t available to us before, then that’s oftentimes really, really empowering. And it’s always a mixed bag. That’s why I was wondering whether this is too big of a model to bring. But I really wanted to bring something that includes all the cycles, you know. That we have four seasons, and in this model, it’s like adulthood and childhood are very clear in our lives. But the other the West, and the East, the darkness those are inner personalities,.
And we don’t see them a lot acknowledged in our culture. But when we go through cancer, both of those places become really strong in us, and really mature, and they put us into a unique situation. Just an interesting aside I met with a very gifted oncopsychiatrist, here at Stanford, INAUDIBLE while his book was developing. And I was diagnosed with PTSD dash manic defense. I had an explosion, like, manic explosion. Yeah. Occupational OT. Occupational therapy of artwork, and poetry, and music. It saved my life. Great. I actually love bringing that in.
So what you’re just stating is that it’s not only the posttraumatic stress disorder. The other end of it is, like, you were diagnosed with manic manic defense. That’s an interesting label. PTSDmanic defense. Yeah. That’s an interesting label. I couldn’t stop the stuff. I couldn’t stop it. It came pouring out of me. Yeah. And that’s what we often hear, is we break through so many barriers, that there is some kind of a liberation happening. And sometimes we can. In the East, you know, if it’s an unlimited creativity.
And vision thing, you can really go nuts on it, too. It needs to be anchored and earthed, as well. That’s the balance, you know. And sometimes we can go off the deep end, even with our creativity, and literally burn ourselves out fast, when we’re in manic states like that. As much as we can spin down into that depression, sometimes I call it you catch yourself in the bottom of that toilet bowl. You’re going around, and around, and around. And at some point, you look up, and you.