(87) How Do You Proceed When All Seems to Collapse (Part 1)

I couldn’t ignore it, I knew it, again a tumor was sitting in my breast.

It’s May 2015 when I feel a bump in my breast for the second time. This time just a bit outside the area of the surgery that was nine years ago. I felt a twinge a few weeks ago that remembered me of the previous time. After that my breast felt a bit more firmer and a bit more sensitive. I just couldn’t believe it. I hardly could feel the lump because it was sitting so deep inside. But I couldn’t ignore it, I knew it, again a tumor was sitting in my breast.

The replacement General Practitioner didn’t feel anything which gave me a bit of hope. Nevertheless, given my previous experience, we decided that it would be better to have it checked by the surgeon.

In the hospital, a mammogram and an ultrasound were made and before I realized it a needle was in my chest to take a puncture from the tumor that was deep inside. I was in shock! Freezing cold and trembling I walked back to the surgery. Again, my body let me down, that’s how it felt for me. The surgeon told me that she would discuss this with the oncology team, first surgery and then chemo- or hormone therapy or the other way around. In any case, it would be an amputation, because to operate upon the same breast twice was not an option. Stunned, I listened to what she told me.

I went home and started wondering what I wanted to do. An operation… is that what I wanted… a chemo therapy… or a hormone therapy… had I still confidence in the hospital? In the end, I decided to request a second opinion at a specialized hospital.

Further research was carried out to determine the exact location of the tumor and to see if the rest of my body was tumor free. No metastases were found fortunately. The present tumor could have been from a remnant of the previous one perhaps, but it could be a new tumor too. In the meantime, I had decided to try to get rid of the tumor by my own mindpower, adjusted nutrition and the use of supplements. Even though I found it exciting, I wondered if I my willpower would be strong enough to see this through. I told the oncologist what I wanted and together we decided to try this in combination with a hormone therapy. The oncologist gave me a year’s time, then we would see how to proceed from there. I was very grateful to her that she was willing to give me this opportunity.

I meditated and visualized that all my cells were energetic and vital and functioned as was originally intended, I visualized that the immune cells were recovering each and every irregularity that had occurred. In addition, I skipped all sugar and meat form my diet and supported my body with dietary supplements that increased my natural resistance. The tumor reduced steadily in size, but continued to suffer from anxiety attacks in which I saw the tumor growing and spreading in my body. After nine months, the tumor was shrunk by more than half. Proud as I was with the result, I had my 3-moths check with the oncologist when she remembered me that the year was almost over and that she found this an excellent moment for scheduling a breast amputation. In addition, she said, despite my good intentions, usually the tumor starts growing again after a year. My world collapsed, fear and panic overwhelmed me and I lost all power to proceed with this approach. Three months later it appeared that the tumor had increased again. I decided for the operation.

Had I failed? Of course, this thought occurred to me. But I know now two things 1) I can influence my health and 2) it requires rock solid confidence and discipline. In addition, you can only go against the regular order with guts and perseverance . I’m happy I’ve listened to my wish and that I dared to do it my way first.

To read part 2 of this blog click here.

(50) True Peace

Let’s start at the beginning; “We can never have peace if you don’t find peace within yourself”.

“Peace can only become true peace when every individual makes peace within him or herself”.
Translated from;  ‘Het verstoorde leven’ van Etty Hillesum, June 20, 1942

Etty Hillesum was Jewish and 27 years old when she wrote the above in her diary. She lived in a room in Amsterdam and experienced all that a Jewish woman under the German occupation had to suffer.

Actually, everyone should read her journals. The courage and the peace that radiate from her journals put everything I have experienced in my life in perspective. About the occupying forces she only writes with understanding and that while she hardly had anything to eat, had to carry out hard labour, had to carry a Jewish star and her friends were deported one by one to the concentration camps.

“We can never have true peace if you have no peace within yourself.”

Another example is the 16 year old Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai. Two years ago she was shot in the head by the Talban because she was – despite her young age – a supporter for the right of education for girls. In the UK, Malala recovered from her severe injuries and has now become an international figurehead for the right to education for women. In 2013 she spoke to the United Nations. “Books and pens are our most powerful weapons,” she said,

These beautiful women have peace within themselves and the courage to defy the biggest dramas you can imagine. They give me hope, because if they can do this we all can do this.

But how many people do experience peace within themselves and in particular after the loss of a loved one? Wouldn’t it be fantastic when we all, after a loss, can find peace within ourselves and be able to extend this peace to others. Wouldn’t it be great when we do not condemn each other anymore; because we understand each other. Wouldn’t it be beautiful when we all, just like the above women, can carry our destiny proudly and have the courage to stand up for the weaker members of our society.

But let’s start at the beginning; “We can never have peace if you don’t find peace within yourself”.

(49) ‘There Is No Way To Happiness, Happiness Is The Way’ (The Buddha)

It’s about the road and the way, it’s there where it happens. Those beautiful flowers, or that naughty child, or the smile by just anyone. That’s what it’s about.

El CaminoI was visiting a friend who just returned from her two-month pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella. The hike to Santiago is also called ‘el camino de Santiago’ which translates as ‘the road to Santiago’.

In 2008 I hiked ‘el camino’ myself, and while talking with my friend and looking at the pictures I was engulfed by the memories of my own Camino. I expect that anyone who hikes the Camino enjoys the simplicity and love that is there for the picking. You don’t even need to collect this because you can’t escape it. Life is about food, sleeping, walking, and communicating with your fellow pilgrims. Inevitably you run into inconveniences and confrontations but those are also easily and quickly resolved. I strongly experienced that I felt being carried by everything around me. No one wonders what your origin or position is. But what is important: what motivates you, what brings you here, what do you want to experience and what you do experience. To ask for help or support is not needed, it’s all around you. Life flows all by itself.

It’s about the way, where it happens. The colour of the earth and the landscape is changing while you walk and every day there are new encounters and challenges. Every encounter gives you something new inspired by each other and the surroundings of that moment; there’s so much recognition. That there is so much recognition, I think, is because we walk in the same direction.

Everyday’s life is no different, we all actually walk in the same direction. We all do it on our own way, but when you really communicate with each other than those different ways turn out to be very recognizable, they appear to be based on the same reasons.

The Camino taught me the simplicity of life. During two months the content of my backpack were my only possessions. And I was lacking nothing. Well, sometimes I longed for a hot bath, but then I promptly found one on my path.

Actually we all have the same goal and that is to be happy. Happiness is not in finding money, position or status or power. Wouldn’t it be great that we all would come to understand that life is actually quite simple. That there are no differences at all and that we all can be happy in a very simple way on the way to where we are travelling to. Listen carefully to the other, he may have a hidden message for you which exactly could be what you need at that moment. Live in simplicity, full with respect and love for each other without any distinction in status or origin.

It’s about the road and the way, it’s there where it happens. Those beautiful flowers, or that naughty child, or the smile by just anyone. That’s what it’s about.

There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.

(13) Nothing Remains, Everything Passes Away

It is inevitable, everything changes.

In 2009 I walked from the South of France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, known as “Camino de Santiago”. A journey of 900 km. One of the things that hit me was while walking the color of the earth changed under my feet from color to color. From red to brown, to grey, to yellow and to all shades in between. The surroundings changed, one moment I walked between the vines, the other along wheat fields and then all of a sudden thru a small authentic village or an industrial area of a big city. Even if I sat quietly everything was changing; the sunlight, the wind, passers-by, thoughts, nothing remained the same.

It is inevitable, everything changes.

It is the same with mourning, every day mourning is not the same, mourning changes contuously of color and intensity. One moment you think you never will be happy again and the other moment you feel strong and you do believe in a better future. One moment you’re not to comfort and the other moment you dream away at a beautiful memory.

During the walk to Santiago de Compostela, I met a German singer. He sang for me: “Nichts bleibt, nichts bleibt, alles geht” (Nothing remains, nothing remains, everything passes away).

I never forgot those words, and when if I feel myself a bit down or sad then I remember those words again and they give me comfort and confidence. It does not remains this way they say to me, there will be better times.

In the beginning of my mourning it seemed as if I was walking in the mountains, one moment I was sitting in the Valley and the next I was sitting on the top. I felt myself like an injured animal.

Nothing remains, the valleys became less deep and the peaks less high. Now I walk in the Sun through a beautiful rolling landscape. And when it’s raining sometimes then that’s OK with me because I do know that the Sun is shining again the next day.

Nothing remains, everything passes away.

As is with your mourning.

(7) I Will Not Leave You

The doctor was leaving. At the front door he took her by the shoulders and said, “You need to understand that it won’t be much longer.” In despair she returned to the room and sat next to the bed.
“Dearest,” she asked. “Are you leaving me?”

The doctor was leaving. At the front door he took her by the shoulders and said, “You need to understand that it won’t be much longer.” In despair she returned to the room and sat next to the bed.
“Dearest,” she asked. “Are you leaving me?”

“No,” he replied resolutely, “I will not leave you.”

“Then tell me what you feel.”

“It’s odd, he said. “I can’t explain it.”

He was too tired to talk any more.

The next morning, Friday,  she could see that he had taken a turn for the worse. His breathing was irregular. His words, “I will not leave you,” kept resonating with her, giving her comfort even though she didn’t understand them.

Sophie, their cat, stayed with him during his last few days, sitting closer and closer at his side. That evening, he was restless but around midnight he became calmer. His sister offered to watch over him so the others could get some sleep.  After a brief hesitation, she accepted the offer.

Upstairs in bed, she hit her pillow again and again in anger and grief. Some time later, just as she had fallen into an exhausted sleep, her sister-in-law woke her.  It had happened, he had stopped breathing.  Together, they had fallen asleep but only she woke up again.  It was Saturday 1.25am.

With all the arrangements that had to be made, it was only on Sunday that she had a moment to rest in her bedroom for a while.  With her family there, she had not yet shed a tear.  Even though he was in the other room, she felt that they were together. She was sobbing, gently, when she felt three kisses, one on each eye and one on her lips, just as he had always done when she was sad.  Bewildered, she opened her eyes and there was Sophie, with her muzzle close to her face.  It happened again a few days later, and a third time exactly one week after his death.  Through her grief she felt his tremendous support and warmth, even though he was physically gone.

Sometimes she asks Sophie for a kiss from him but no more have come. Still, she is convinced that he was with her when she needed him and she no longer doubts what happens to us when we die. Her husband, although physically gone, still stands right next to her, surrounding her with his warmth.

And of course there is sadness at the loss of his touch, but love conquers all.