3 to 6 months to live?

18 05 2011

So I got the bad news yesterday: after confronting my neuro-oncologist, he told me I had about 3 to 6 months to live.


After evaluating all my options carefully, I have asked to be put on carboplatin ASAP and got my wish yesterday morning.

Earlier last week I was having dinner with a close (lesbian) friend of mine, also in YogaTree‘s Teacher Training, about how we could use our health challenges as our strengths.  I was only thinking about her — blinded to the fact of my own crazy situation.  She turned the question back on me.  I lowered my head and shook it in agreement: “of course”.  It seemed so obvious, there’s a saying: “if it were a snake, it would have bit me”.  Thankfully I’ve been doing Tonglen Meditation and facing my worse fear every day for about two weeks previous.  So that night I purchased Yoga4CancerSurvivors.com (as of this writing it is currently under construction).  So I’m planning on joining a support group for “the life-expectancy challenged” and offer yoga classes and/or meditations.

While waiting for the in line for train to the MRI, I was approached by “M” (not his real name, age 50).  He said there was something about me that he felt he could just open up to me — right in front of every one in line.  He obviously was in deep, deep pain over a relationship and needed someone safe to open up to.  Darren, YogaTree’s Teacher Training Program Director, warned us that we will have this effect on people attending our yoga classes — but this was my first time that this happened to me outside of class.  I traveled in the seat next to him until his stop in San Bruno.  I just let him talk to me and there were several instances where we both teared up.

Even though everything seems dark and desperate, and my MRIs look troubling and on the verge of hopeless, I’m not afraid of this journey…but I can’t do this alone.  If people reading this could practice doing a Tonglen meditation for me, or dedicate a yoga practice to me, or pray for me — because I believe strongly that we are all connected and that it all helps.  I’m going to need all the help I can receive in order to transform this cancer into a source of healing for anyone struggling with cancer.


Adventures in Healing: Tonglen Meditation

10 05 2011

I’ve got bad news to share.  The doctor’s found a new 8mm “tumor” growing in my corpus callosum – basically, it’s inoperable.  It has already caused me to have three consecutive seizures  on 4/14.

Curiously, this new “tumor” is very close to my “3rd eye” (ajna chakra) in the exact center of my brain which makes me doubt this is a physical issue but a spiritual issue that I’m dealing with.  Basically when you have issues with ajna chakra, it is a sign that one is avoiding their spiritual path.  So I’ve started working with a Chi Gong Master, a type of Asian “witch doctor”, to get help me get to the source of this spiritual crisis.  I meet with him on a weekly basis.

In last week’s Yoga Teacher Training, we studied meditation.  The teacher turn me on to a book by Pema Chodron, “When Things Fall Apart“, which teaches a form of meditation practice called Tonglen.  Tonglen meditations could be defined as:

One visualizes, on the in-breath, taking into oneself the illness/suffering of others; and on the out-breath, healing for everyone in this situation.  Use what seems like poison as medicine.  Use your personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings.

I feel like Tonglen is the exact opposite of what I use to do.  I will always regret that I never visited my aunt when she was dying of breast cancer but I had just received my fist cancer diagnosis a few years previous at 17.  I’m now 43, and it feels like I’m facing my worst fear ever!  However, I’m also feel power over this fear via my daily Tonglen meditations.

Instead of feeling sorry for me, I want to encourage that you put Tonglen to use for yourself.  For example,  on the in-breath, taking into oneself my illness and other people’s suffering with brain tumors; and on the out-breath, healing for everyone with brain tumors.  I’ll let you know if this makes a difference.


I just started taking beta-glucanase, a digestive enzyme, to help my body “digest” the protein coating cancer that actually repels immune cells.  I’ll let you know if it works.