Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Looking Beyond: Dreams and Spiritual Guides

My surgery yesterday went smoothly ... the staff at Fairview Ridges were awesome, as usual. Since this is my third time (in the past year and a half) for the same surgery to remove a lump in my left breast even the nurses remembered me and I got such a warm welcome! And I just love and trust my surgeon whom I have known for almost 10 years now ... the first time was back in 2001 when she took out half my thyroid. I struggled a little more with pain this go around (post surgery) than the previous 2 surgeries in 2009 and gave myself permission to take some pain medication. I remember being wheeled into surgery as the nurse whispered to me that I would start feeling a little groggy soon ... and within seconds I could feel myself slipping into another state. The last I remember was being in the surgery room and being asked if I could move to the bed next to me. I said yes. Then I remember someone saying something and I felt a mask go over my mouth and nose. I slipped off into another state at that point and when I woke up I was still in the operating room and I saw my surgeon and asked her "are you going to start soon?" She smiled and said, "we're all done!"

Prior to going into surgery my doctor met with my partner and I to discuss the plan and what the next steps would be. I am so fortunate to have such a skilled, knowledgeable and extremely compassionate surgeon ... and one, who on a personal level, is in a similar situation as I am with being high risk for breast cancer. She understands the stress of "waiting" and taking the route of close surveillance. She understands what it feels like to be a ticking time bomb. And she said she doesn't even have atypical ductal hyperplasia/borderline DCIS ... just the other high risk factors of genetics. I have been taking the close surveillance route for a year and a half now. Two previous lumpectomies have revealed at a microscopic level that I have pre-cancer cells and the last surgery on 12/09 reveal they are now borderline cancer. So what will this surgery reveal? My doctor tells me that the pathology report could very well come back benign and that, to be honest, could be the hardest result because it puts me back with "what do I do now?" She says it's very likely that my breast have a lot of pre-cancer cells (atypical hyperplasia) ... the doctor in Mayo concurred. The past year and a half have been rough waters ... and has felt like water thrashing against rocks like this photo I took of the Minnehaha falls close to our home.

With the two surgeries in 2009 both my surgeon and my doctor at Mayo say I was "lucky" that they took out sites that revealed these pre-cancer cells. If the report comes back benign she said it's very possible they didn't get the site that has pre-cancer cells. Then again, in my mind, it's possible that these abnormal, pre-cancer cells have started healing ... My doctor understands that a benign pathology report may actually be the hardest result to have ... and she is right. The limbo, uncertainty, waiting and wondering state has been hard on me this past year and a half. If it comes back with what i've had in 2009 showing atypical ductal hyperplasia and borderline DCIS that may be enough for me to consider a double mastectomy ... then again, can I calm my mind down and wait 6 months to see what happens? If it comes back with contained cancer, the decision is much easier for me -- a lumpectomy and radiation, or a double mastectomy. If it's invasive cancer ... well, that's a bridge i'll cross if I have to when I find out!

So this morning I journaled about the possible outcomes and the possible options ... I had a great conversation with Mary over breakfast and shared with her all that was in my heart. My surgeon said to call her office Wednesday afternoon and she will try to track down the pathology report. Worst case, I figure i'll know the results by Thursday. While journaling this morning I wrote down that I have 3 options: a) close surveillance, b) tamoxifen (a drug I would need to take for 5 years but has some serious side effects but could reverse atypia), c) double mastectomy.

As I journaled more I realized ... No, I don't just have 3 options. I need to not focus on the thrashing water, but the beautiful flower that's right in front of me! Part of what has been hard has been feeling like so much is out of my control .. close surveillance alone feels like I'm waiting for the cancer bomb to explode and there's nothing I can do. There are are many things I can do, and to be honest, I have been doing yet why is it that I have felt like the only viable options are what western medicine tells me. I have been seeing the most incredible healer, a cranial sacral therapist, and she has been extremely helpful and healing for me on so many levels. I have met with a holistic doctor (also an M.D) and naturopath and have worked with my acupuncturist. I have also changed my diet in a effort to starve any potential cancer cells in my body. I have a lot of other healing tools at my disposal ... writing, meditation, visualization, prayer, and opening up my heart ... and my dreams have been such a blessing and guide for me over the years. I was going through my blog which has been a wonderful way for me to document my journey ... In my January 9, 2010 post I blog about the signs I have been receiving both in my dream state and my conscious state. In January I was still losing weight, feeling fatigued and unable to digest fats ... my GI doctor couldn't figure out what was causing my symptoms. On 1/3/10 I had a dream where my father appears in it (and this is the first time he has ever appeared in my dream) and I write about it in my 1/9 blog post. Essentially, he tells me it's my pancreas ... and in February after a multitude of tests and procedures, my GI doctor officially diagnoses me with pancreatic insufficiency. Somehow, my pancreas stopped functioning normally and has lost its ability to produce the enzyme lipase necessary to digest fats ... hence the symptoms and massive weight loss (35 pounds in one year).

In February, 2010 my work takes me to Bloomington, Indiana where my mom and dad met while they were graduate students at Indiana University. It's my first time to Bloomington, IN. I spend just 24 hours there (and one night).

In my February 3, 2010 post I write about how I am welcomed into Bloomington, Indiana by a red-tail hawk.

On February 15, 2010 I blog about how my 24 hour stay and how in a 24 hour period 3 red-tail hawks appear to me ... and how the number '613' shows up in my waking state ... being the room I am in and also the license plate on my rental car. I research the symbolic meaning of 613 and learn some very interesting things and its symbolic meaning from a spiritual perspective. Shortly after returning home I had a dream about a white hawk that appears with this elder that has been appearing in my dreams ...  From my February 18, 2010 blog post:

"The other night I had a dream where the man with white hair appeared again. This time as an American Indian elder wearing a gold buckskin fringe coat. In my dream was the woman who has previously appeared in my dream saying, "God is always with you. He is always in your heart." And in this dream, she summons the elder and she hands him a white hawk. The elder is summoned to set the hawk free. He sets the hawk free and the hawk soars into the skies with wings spread wide open ... a magnificent sight ... the hawk circles back and lands on a table near the woman and the elder. The hawk appears injured. The hawk takes a deep breath and with one last sigh, surrenders and dies peacefully."

And interestingly, as I go through my journals I find a poem I wrote on June 13, 2006 about dreams:

"Dreams sprinkle dust of past, present, and future -
in the mixing
sometimes bridges form
sometimes tunnels form
sometimes galaxies form,
but you can't see it from where you stand
it just looks like a cloud of dust
but from a heavenly distance,
you notice, it's the Milky Galaxy."

- Marilou Chanrasmi (6/13/06)

I learn of the association of the number '613' with the fruit pomegranate and how pomegranate symbolizes unity or nourishment of the soul. The next morning (while I'm in Bloomington) for breakfast the only green tea available for me is green tea with pomegranate. I never even knew such a tea existed. That one night while I was in Bloomington, Indiana I also had a dream that, to be honest, I was afraid to share or write about ... in that dream, I died. Someone (some male presence or energy) had injected me with some liquid or fluid in my right ankle and I felt it spreading throughout my body. In my 1/3/2010 dream where my father appeared to me he told me 3 things: the first I am unable to remember, the second thing he told me was that I had pancreatic cancer ... that I had a very small tumor but it was an aggressive cancer, and the third thing he told me was that I had bacteria and virus spreading through my body. Was the "fluid" the bacteria/virus? At first I was overcome with fear ... fear of dying. Then in my final moments, an acceptance came over me and I felt this calm, light and peace fill my body. In my dream I died and it was one of the most beautiful, peaceful experiences I had ever had.

There's no doubt my father is trying to communicate with  me. My GI doctor believes that even though my father was officially diagnosed with cirrhosis in 1968 when he died, that since he did not drink that it was most likely some form of liver cancer ... he said there's so much more they know now than they did back in 1968. My GI doctor is happy that the pancreatic enzymes I am taking are working (as am I!) but tells me that pancreatic insufficiency could be a very early sign of cancer so to please be very aware of symptoms and to pay close attention to my body (which I think I do).

So ... now as I wait for the pathology report to come in from this most recent round of surgery I am looking beyond and reaching back to dreams and spiritual guides ... I am being asked to pay attention and to listen, truly listen to my body and to my spirit. God has sent me angels as well ... in animals (dogs and dolphins!) and in people ... I have the love and support of my partner Mary and have the most incredible, loving friends in my life for which I am grateful beyond words. I don't just have the 3 options of close surveillance, tamoxifen and a double mastectomy. I have a lot more options and there is so much more I can do to complement close surveillance if the report comes back benign or atypical ductal hyperplasia/borderline cancer.

The hawk appeared to be 3 times in Bloomington, Indiana for a reason. And to dream about a hawk, along with this elder, who has appeared in my dream several times ... is another sign to me to pay attention to the hawk.

The following I found off of the following site ... and really resonates/speaks to me:

"The Hawk represents a messenger in the Native American culture. It often shows up in our life when we need to pay attention to the subtle messages found around us, and from those we come into contact with. As with all messages received, it is important to recognise the messages underlying truth. We will be taught to be observant and also pay attention to what we may overlook....


A Red tailed Hawk is special. It will ALWAYS be with you, for life. It has direct ties to the Kundalini, the seat of primal life force. It is linked to the base chakra. If you have this power animal, you need to be aware of and work toward fulfilling your soul's destiny. It reflects far greater intensity of energy within your life: physically, emotionally and mentally. Spiritual forces will be felt strong within you.

One trait all hawks share, is the ability to move between the seen and unseen realms gracefully, joining both worlds together. Their acute vision attributes this ability, their discriminating nature keeps them out of dangers path. Hawks have a broad vision, allowing them to see what the future holds. In man this is a symbol of prophetic insight. If this gift is underdeveloped, it is common for people with this power animal to have a tendency of over analysing everything. When this is so, clear vision is lost. You must learn to keep your analytical mind under control, not allowing it to run wild.

The destiny of man is to awaken from their spiritual amnesia and to realign with the original intention of their soul. When the hawk gets a hold of us in his powerful talons, we will be asked to evaluate who we have become and to shatter our self created illusions. This will help our inner truth to come out into the open and for it to shine.

Hawk denotes union with All That Is. The hawk is a bird of the heavens, arranging the changes necessary to prompt our spiritual growth. Having this power animal can be bitter sweet. When accepting its presence in your life, you will be asked to surrender/give up anything that doesn't honour the integrity of all life. Whether its an idea, feeling or action. Although hard work is involved, the rewards to be reaped are great, far outweighing this."

I am on some kind of a journey ... that much I know. I have a choice on how I want to walk this journey. .... who do I walk with? what do I carry and keep with me? what do I let go of? what path do I take? And like the hawk that can move between the unseen and the seen realms .. between dream and conscious states of being ... can I have the fluidity, faith, and trust and wisdom to know when it's time to hold on and when it's time to let go?

For now, I am grateful for my blessings and for the gift of life and energy that fills my heart and soul. I am grateful because I feel so loved ... and in the end, really truly ... the best medicine is LOVE!

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