My surgeon told me I had stage 1 papillary thyroid cancer over the phone in May of this year, about one week after I had undergone a total thyroidectomy. He immediately followed that report with the declaration that I was now cancer free. It is no surprise in today’s culture, that the discussion of any type of cancer carries with it varying degrees of alarm and/or fear. Somehow I had not suffered from these reactions through the previous months of slowly unfolding tests and results, which all led up to the necessary surgery. None of the earlier procedures had been definitive for cancer, until the biopsy was performed after the thyroidectomy. All that is to say that there was a lot of thinking time allowable and speculation to be had, until this phone call gave me certainty of my condition. Maybe I am generally not an alarmist, and that is mostly true in my life. Perhaps I trusted that in this season of my life, my reliance and enjoyment of wellness practices was all that could be practically done, and I may as well carry on regardless of any bad report. I am a practical kind of thinker, so this mindset fits me well. The most probable reason for my low level of fear and anxiety throughout this course was most likely from a long history of observing people in all kinds of crisis, ranging from the very small to the extremely severe. I have made a lifestyle out of collecting a sort of people watching data catalog in my memory. There is one trend in human behavior that has been proven in every instance I have observed: worry never wins. In fact, it brings more suffering than the original crisis ever had to begin with. Worry exhausts and steals peace like a thief in the night, leaving a body and mind feeling empty and in search of safety. The proof of this I have witnessed for both myself and others, and somehow the practical wisdom of that learning served me well.
The great discovery I made after my surgery and double diagnosis (cancer & cancer-free) was a deeper appreciation for the beauty of life. After waking from surgery, nauseated and unable to swallow without significant pain for a couple of days, the delightful act of being able to eat a small bowl of yogurt became what I could describe as, “this perfect meal has just saved my life!!”. Even the effects of going through surgery, under general anesthesia for 3 hours, gave me the opportunity to feel so incredibly grateful for being able to walk just a short distance again. I remember resting in my bed the first few days, trying to cement in my memory the joy of the simplest things I began to fully experience: my body relaxing and recovering so wisely, the comfort of my surroundings, the love expressed to me from family and friends, and the nourishment of good food. “Don’t forget how important these seemingly small things are, Mary”, I told myself. I’ve known this to some degree before, but walking through this latest part of my journey has made the quietly beautiful things of life more rich! We hurry past them so often, racing along in our schedules of doing, while BEAUTY simply waits patiently for us to be reawakened to her presence. Well, I’m a little more awake now. I am practicing to flow through my days with an eye out for the simple treasures all around and within.
You don’t actually have to go through crisis to discover and play with being “awake”. You can begin anytime. Take a pause, breathe, relax, listen, look and see what happens. BEAUTY awaits you and all of us around every corner and amazingly in every kind of circumstance.