Wednesday, April 14, 2010 the trenches

in sharing with you more about the genesis of Insight Coaching, i'd like to include a post i wrote two years ago for my hubby's cancer healing blog:

as his caregiver for several years, as well as for my mother 10 years prior, i have been attuned, profoundly aware, and present to the intricacies and impact a cancer diagnosis has on the entire familial system/dynamic. there is the deep place within that each family member is thrust into, the challenges of wrestling with one's inner Ego vs Higher Self, the impact on intimacy, relatedness and connectedness with pairings within the family system, and the struggle to resist being present.

this is a glimpse into the mind of one caregiver on the planet:

the day bert was diagnosed
so there we are, sitting in the cramped dr's office, and the doctor comes in. wow. i do not envy him, i thought. i knew the day he had the biopsy that bert had cancer. i could just feel it. from that place of "knowing" inside...different than intuition, different from hopefulness or compensating for worry...i believe this particular place of Knowing comes from the Divine giving you the Answer about whatever, so that you are the dr tells us bert has cancer. bert & i looked at each other with expressions that spoke "of course". this is so whacked, AND it makes perfect sense. not because he had done something that would obviously result in having cancer, but something about the whole situation felt both familiar and "right". it's a very difficult thing to describe. it felt as though all was unfolding as it should be, and that nothing was 'wrong' or out of place. the overarching umbrella of emotion was a peaceful place...the *big* ALL IS WELL, even though nothing much about this looked *well*.

now, i will also add, that along with all of that, UNDER the umbrella of ALL IS WELL, was shock...i have a 4 month old baby in my arms, and told bert has cancer, and that is is serious. this poor dr couldn't leave the room fast enough, after he gave us the basic facts & told us who to go see next. he left the room like *anywhere* was a better place than being in that room with a nice, young family and that crappy, crappy news. next stop was the surgeons office. we met a delightful PA named nan, and the doctor. they spent about 2 hours with us, doing an exam & answering the same 5 questions bert & i kept asking on a rotational basis...seriously...2 hours, same 5 was a dizzy flurry. we piled into the car to head home, after making agreements with the dr to begin scheduling chemo treatments somewhere...all the while in total disbelief. none of it made rational sense, but yet it did...

the difficult part was knowing we had to call our families that night. we couldn't even stall for time because they all knew about today's appointment. ugh. we arranged for a conference call with bert's whole family after having spoken to my family. it was very emotional for everyone involved. unspoken fears permeated the stillness between sentences....we both took on a cheeriness to balance the equation. not in a fake way, but we realized right away, once we received the news, that we still gotta laugh. for us, laughter and silliness happens constantly, and to stop now would give life to a very dark cloud.

when i reflect on that day, i remember being present to 2 distinct things. the first was that "All is OK". i really knew bert was not going to die from this. again, from that place of Knowing. there was no wishing or hoping involved. it was not a reaction to fear. i would have bet the fate of the human race on that being so. the second thing was that he was going to have a very, very difficult road ahead of him before he was to be well. that also came from Knowing. what made that the most difficult thing to stomach was that ultimately, this journey was going to be his, alone. alone in the context of many, many people loving & supporting him, but still, ultimately alone. like, i couldn't do it for him, which is really what i found myself wanting to do. it brought me face-to-face with the stark reality of the solitary journey we all are on. it is easy to forget that, especially when life is going along just fine, you are surrounded by friends, you are busy with the family/children/work...this reminder of the solitary journey was like a smack down from an old *sorta* friend...i knew this place from my experiences with meditation, but it was all too different when i had to acknowledge my dearest friend on the planet ALSO had his own journey to be on. i was present to my own journey, and all i wanted to do was shield him from upcoming suffering. the worst was then knowing he had to go through the suffering to come out just fine. like luke skywalker going into the cave in star wars, or the knights going into the forest, one by one, alone, to search for the holy grail. notice, luke didn't bring a friend along to face his deepest fears/shadow self, nor did the knights implement the ever-safe "buddy system". the point of the hero's journey (ahh, joseph campbell, the world misses you so...) is to have the solitary experience for the sake of transformation. of course, you have no idea that's what;s happening until you "get it" merges you with your fears, and, if you are receptive to it, to God (or the Divine, or Buddha, or Love, or the Force, choose). you get the zap of Love, or God, when all circuits are closed, and you can only come out giddy, joyful, grateful and dancing!! the ultimate kicker of it all is then when you discover that all the while, the Divine was inside you the whole time, but 'first contact' could only result from this horrific scary experience with a side-of-suffering. sorta like in the movie men in black...the galaxy was teeny-weeny inside a marble size amulet around orion's (the cat's) neck....that HUGE Divineness that feels infinite and gigantic and all around you is actually tucked inside each & every one of us, deep in our hearts...we just have to go on this insane commando-style-human-mission to find it.

[*think* we might have agreed to this ahead of time as part of the rules-of-being-human-game with the *illusion* of Death being at stake ?? hmmmmm...]

Eckert Tolle stated it so beautifully: Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could spare them from all suffering? No, it wouldn't. They would not evolve as human beings and would remain shallow, identified with the external form of things. Suffering drives you deeper. The paradox is that suffering is caused by identification with form and erodes identification with form. A lot of it is caused by the ego, although eventually suffering destroys the ego--but not until you suffer consciously.

Humanity is destined to go beyond suffering, but not in the way the ego thinks. One of the ego's many erroneous assumptions, one of its many deluded thoughts is "I should not have to suffer." Sometimes the thought gets transferred to someone close to you: "My child should not have to suffer." That thought itself lies at the root of suffering. Suffering has a noble purpose: the evolution of consciousness and the burning up of the ego. The man on the cross is an archetypal image. He is every man and every woman. As long as you resist suffering, it is a slow process because the resistance creates more ego to burn up. When you accept suffering, however, there is an acceleration of that process which is brought about by the fact that you suffer consciously. You can accept suffering for yourself, or you can accept it for someone else, such as your child or parent. In the midst of conscious suffering there is already the transmutation. The fire of suffering becomes the light of consciousness.

from here, on the other side of all this, with bert in his last leg of healing, i look at him with such admiration, such courage. having cancer has just terrifying moments. how 'brave' would i have been??? he came out of the cave/woods a very different person. his "outta the cave dance" some days looks like the 2-step, other days it looks like wild bohemian, if you see him out & about, and catch him looking around then clicking his heels in the air, you know why...

our Purpose, my sweetie and i, is to travel and partner with families as they navigate their cancer healing journey. to hold the lamp ahead of them as lightbearers, such that they are able to experience their circumstances with purpose, clarity, grace, and ease.


  1. So beautifully stated.


  2. I have often thought, what if the doctor would have walked into the "room" and said " I have some GREAT news, YOU have the chemo may make you deathly ill, and your family will actually be without a mom for about 5 months while you curl up in bed with your insides on fire and your husband will have to be both mom and dad....... but it will humble you and the suffering will bring you on your knees and our loving God will draw you close and your children will learn what the true magic of the wedding vows is! True Love will prevail and THIS TOO SHALL PASS! What if I had known that day that CANCER was the GOOD NEWS???