Will this bring me peace?

I have spent many hours thinking about how I want to live my life when I get back on my feet again.

When I was pondering this thought something jumped right out at me and when it did it felt so right that I decided to commit to it from that moment on.

Whenever I am faced with a decision one overriding factor will determine my choice. A concept so important to me that I have made it a guiding principle, a filter through which my thoughts and actions will be directed.

It is stated as a question preceding my decisions. “Will this decision bring me peace?” If the answer is no I simply will not go ahead with it.

If stress and turmoil become the consequences of my decisions the chances of the end result being positive are low.

The cost of stress is more than we imagine. It is not only the cause of dis-ease and emotional turbulence but it also diminishes our quality of life and peace of mind. For me those are worth protecting.

Peace and stress cannot co-exist. If I cultivate peace as a priority I am sure to feel a sense of calm in the midst of activity.

I’m excited about this way of living and trust that I will be strong in my commitment to integrate the feeling of peace into my life.

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Flowing with the unexpected

Last Wednesday I started feeling twinges of pain on the left side at the back in the rib area. Before I knew it I was writhing with such intense pain that even the strongest medication was ineffective.

I rang the surgeon the following morning who called for an emergency CT scan showing a volume of fluid build up causing the pain. I was admitted to hospital and injected with heavy doses of morphine. The fluid had to be drained but I had to wait until the next day as the doctor who would perform the procedure was unavailable.

I was wheeled into the surgical ward with another patient, an older gentleman, who it turns out, could have won first prize in the Guiness Book of World Records for the loudest snorer.

As I lay there watching the clock tick by and listening to Mr Trumpet blasting out his latest iTunes number, I started laughing at the thought of this scenario being filmed and how comical it would be if others could watch it and the endless possibilities of what I could get up to.

However this was was my reality and I couldn’t change it. I could get myself worked up with thoughts of injustice and feelings of frustration or I could go with the flow and surrender to it.

A few thoughts of disbelief arose. I found it hard to believe that it was only a week prior that the last treatment was completed and here I was back in hospital waiting for what was to be, another painful procedure.

Thankfully I let those thoughts go quickly and decided not to resist any part of the experience. I chose rather to think thoughts that would make me feel peaceful. I told myself that this is not a major procedure and I’ve been through a lot worse so it’s just a mere bump in the road after which I will feel stronger and stronger.

It was a reminder for me that there is great value in going with the flow when life throws us curve balls.

After 4 days they discharged me. I’m now back at home resting and look forward to being up and about by the weekend.

The courage to feel certain

The past few days have been tough. I had my final session on Wednesday and as per usual the first 3 days post treatment prove to be quite a challenge.

It hasn’t sunk in that I don’t have to endure another treatment and it’s an empowering thought that when I start to feel stronger I won’t get knocked down again.

I will have a PET scan in January which I’m trusting will give me the all clear. What an exciting day that will be!

It has been interesting to observe my mind over the past few days and watch how it can so easily paint a gloomy picture. Sometimes it will question a positive outcome for the scan and ask “What if the cancer is still there? There are no guarantees, so there could be a chance that I’m not cured.”

When I wrote earlier that I had my final treatment I still felt a slight twinge of doubt.

The truth is that at this stage no one knows what the outcome will be and my reality is determined by my thoughts alone.

I realise that it takes courage to support certainty over doubt. My prognosis is good and the odds are with me and even then it still takes strength of mind to say “I’m cured!”

This confirms to me once again that if we leave our mind alone without steering it in the direction of our intent it will most certainly default to negativity.

So I’m going to continue to be courageous and claim the restoration of my health right now. The treatment is completed and so is the cure.

I am a contradiction

I’ve had an interesting week. Normally in the third week after treatment my energy levels are improved and I’m up and about most of the time.

This week it hasn’t been that way. My energy is still low and I can only manage short outings after which I feel fatigued and need to lie down for a few hours to recharge. I’m also experiencing hot flushes and losing my eyebrows too.

At times I feel a little frustrated and then I remind myself to focus on the present moment which has become my faithful antidote to any negative emotion that may arise.

I’m realizing more and more the extent to which I live with emotional contradiction and ambiguity.

I feel peaceful and frustrated, happy and discontented, sad and grateful, alive and fatigued, connected and separate, forgiving and intolerant, the list goes on.

I am all of these contradictions and I need to accept this duality as part of my nature. I often label negative emotion as “bad” and sometimes feel guilty when I feel them. I’m now of the opinion that there is benefit in contrast. I can’t appreciate light if I haven’t experienced darkness.

Life too would be fairly boring without the dual nature of emotion. It keeps me inquisitive and most certainly is the catalyst for progression.

Another key factor is that if I can fully accept myself as a contradiction, I will experience more self love which I believe is an important ingredient for healing my body.

How can I fully heal if I don’t love myself enough?

The journey continues…

Helping others through their suffering

As you know, my intention for writing these posts is to offer support, encouragement and hope to anyone that is going through challenging times no matter the severity of their experience.

It is my passion and commitment to help others through their suffering and to that end I have thought about what I would like to do when I’m well and back on my feet again.

I’ve been in contact with Sharon Millman, CEO of Lymphoma Australia and early next year I will host a special event to raise awareness about this illness and to help the organization through donations and support workshops for those affected by Lymphoma.

It is also my intention to do roadshows and speak to a wide range of audiences about living life to the full and prioritizing the things that matter most.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the rat race and become a little self involved (I have on numerous ocassions).

What if everyone in the world did one thing each week to help others that are suffering?

That’s about 260 billion acts of kindness each year! It would change the conciousness of the world and people will never feel alone again.

We all need each other. If it wasn’t for the incredible support of those around me, my hardships would have been greater and my days darker.

We can change the world when the needs of others are put above our own.

Is today yesterday?

Good news. I had enough strength to go out for an hour. The weather today in Sydney is magnificent and a friend took me down to the water. It was so special and it reminded me of how lucky I am to have the strength to do this and to enjoy the wonders that life presents.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how important it is for me to see the freshness and beauty of each day. It’s so easy to have Groundhog Day being confined to my bed 95% of the time over the past 2 weeks.

I made a promise to myself to consciously look for something special in each day. It doesn’t matter how simple or trivial it may be. There is beauty, promise and the offer of newness enveloped in each breaking dawn.

I realized that something in my experience will start to shine when I look at it with new eyes.

Since I made that promise my world got brighter. Now, when I look outside my window I don’t see trees, plants and the sky. I see aliveness, flourishing, stillness, abundance and acceptance (the leaves effortlessly let go of the branch and fall to the ground with total acceptance).

It feels like I’ve been given a second chance. This illness is my wake up call to enjoy everyday and not to take anything for granted.

To make today yesterday is to waste life.

A formula for happiness

There is one thing certain in life and that is at some point we will be hit by a brick at a time we probably least expect it.

I know this may sound quite pessimistic but it’s true. Examine your life right now and my guess is that a few tough times have already presented at least once.

On a global scale, 7 billion of us share the same goal and that is to be happy. For that to occur we need to find a way to best navigate the hard times. Without it how possibly can we find peace of mind and the experience of positive emotion?

What if there was a formula for life? What if there was a secret blueprint that would lead us to happiness despite our circumstances?

Being the typical Aquarian I have pondered this idea for years and over the last few months in particular.

I have come up with something that I think is worthwhile to share.

Cause of Unhappiness Formula

Situation + Negative Story = Unhappiness

I’m going to be bold in saying that it doesn’t matter what situation we experience more than it is what we tell ourselves and others about it. Reality is made up in our minds so if we choose to relate a negative story about our challenges we will experience unhappiness.

Cause of Happiness Formula

Situation + Positive Expectation = Happiness

I strongly believe that if we have the ability to look forward to a better experience when faced with a challenging experience we will be happier.

I know it’s easier said than done but if we’re committed to being happy then we’ll take the time to practice a new way of thinking.

How do we do it?

Simple. Every time we’re faced with a less than ideal situation instead of allowing it to make us feel unhappy, think about how the situation could change and turn out to be an experience we’ll be excited about. Let’s use our imagination and make up a story (or a mind movie) that represents the ideal way we would like it to be.

I’ve been using this formula a lot since my illness and it’s helping me immensely. For example for the past 8 days I’ve had little strength and in bed 24/7. Even the slightest tasks leave me feeling totally fatigued. I started visualizing myself in my ideal situation running my usual 10km run with my mates, speaking to audiences about my experiences and enjoying fun times with my friends.

Everytime I visualize it I start to feel a sense of excitement about what I have to look forward to post my recovery and you know what? My fatigue doesn’t matter as much and I feel happy.

Being with “what is”

I had my 5th treatment on Monday and have been in bed all week. The first week is always the toughest having only sufficient energy to go to the bathroom and at a push the kitchen. I’m hoping that by Sunday I’ll be able to sit in the lounge room for a while.

I am so grateful for the very special friends and cousins that have been taking care of me throughout this time. No words can do justice to the gratitude and appreciation I have for the kind caring and thoughtful acts they continuously do for me.

The feelings of extreme fatigue, nausea and discomfort keep coming in waves and when they do I try as much as possible to keep my awareness on where I am and what is happening at that precise moment.

My actions are very limited so my present moments are very simple. For example looking out of my window, talking on the telephone or eating something are few to mention. When I have my full attention on being present to that which is present I become immersed in the moment and the physical discomfort becomes far less pronounced to the extent that sometimes it actually disappears.

As soon as my mind gets distracted from “what is”, I get lured back into thinking about my predicament and allow the power of the physical experience to take over once again.

I find it difficult sometimes and tend to go back and forth in out of being present. It sounds so simple and yet it’s not easy to apply.

However the more I experience being in the moment the more I realize how powerful it is as an antidote for stress, pain, anxiety or anything that keeps me awake at night.

What caused my cancer?

From the moment was I diagnosed (14th June 2011) I was a man on a mission. I had so many unanswered questions but the main one was “What caused my cancer?”

It didn’t take me too long to discover that the answer to the question differed quite dramatically depending upon who I was talking to.

If it was my Oncologist he would be of the opinion that the cause is genetic. It’s in the code of my DNA passed down from generations. If it was my Nutritionist she would say the cause is nutrient deficiency. Talking with my energy healer he would say it was triggered by an imbalance and blockages in my physical and emotional bodies. If it was my Naturopath she would claim that toxcicity is the cause from exposure to the many environmental toxins over the years. In discussions with another doctor he would say it’s the acid build up in my body that’s the main cause.

So which opinion do I go with? I respect the professional views of the people I chose to speak with and I am also mindful that they have formed their views based upon their own experiences and education.

I realized that the “truth” about the cause of cancer has to come from what I believe and what resonates with me. It has been formed from the many hours of research, the countless books I have read as well as the views expressed by others.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to formulating a belief system about cancer. So many medical professionals are unwavering in their stance about what causes cancer and passionately believe that their truth is the “right” one. But everyone can’t be right.

What is right for me is what I belief in my mind and heart to be true. Every one of us has 750 000 cancer cells in our body but not everyone gets cancer. If there was a definitive answer for the cause of cancer than it wouldn’t be the big killer that it is today.

It is my belief that our cancer cells are triggered and then metastisise due to a number of reasons not just one. The main causes are genetic predisposition, nutrient deficiency, stress, toxicity and acidosis. It may be one, a few or possibly even none of these causes.

An important aspect of my journey has been the spiritual component. Sometimes there are just no answers to why people get cancer and we have no choice but to come face to face with the realm of the unknown. It is when we enter this space that cancer becomes the catalyst for us to explore life deeper.

Having cancer has been a life changing experience, not only for me but also to others that have been touched through witnessing this journey. Cancer has lured me to look deeper into what’s really important in my life and what matters most. My connection to family, friends, nature and the world around me has deepened. I don’t take life for granted anymore and treasure each day as a gift.

When I focus on these reasons the other reasons for why I have this disease become quite insignificant. They don’t matter to me because what’s important are the gifts that cancer brings rather than trying to guess it’s cause.

I had a bad day

Tuesday wasn’t a good day.

I woke up feeling tired, miserable and grumpy.

The doctors were worried about a cyst on my pancreas and called for another CT scan. This would be the 4th scan and I wasn’t happy being exposed to another huge dose of radiation once again.

I had to fast until lunch time and went back to the hospital and sat in the waiting room for an hour. They asked me to drink a glass of a certain liquid every 20 minutes which helps them to view the scan a lot clearer.

Finally it was my turn. The nurse began by poking areas on my arm in an attempt to find a suitable vein for the canulla. Eventually she found one, insterted the needle and injected the dye into into my blood stream. Immediately I started getting hot flushes, developed a metallic taste in my mouth and thought I urinated all at the same time.

15 minutes later it was all over and I went home feeling irritated and my grumpiness levels rose to even greater heights.

I was just over it all. I was done with hospitals, doctors, needles, chemo drips, scans, pain, the feeling of fatigue and not knowing how my recovery is progressing.

I realized that nothing at that time would make me feel better and I didn’t want to change my mood either. This was how I felt and I was not interested in hearing any advice or offerings of comfort from anyone.

I was having a bad day and I felt ok in saying that and feeling it. I can’t be positive all the time. I guess I’m only human and I’m allowed to feel down sometimes.

This doesn’t happen to me very often and when it does it helps me to understand others when they feel the same way.

I woke up yesterday feeling much better. The sun was shining with a promise of a new day and so too my spirits began to shine once again