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Sharing Some Thoughts

Posted 12/1/2016

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  Amy West is a remarkable woman whom I have known for several years. She was initially diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in 2001 while a PhD student a the BU Divinity School. This was her first cancer diagnosis, so it was clearly an earthquake in her already busy life. Ms. West is a self-described "ex yuppie lawyer" who had left her practice and profession in Denver to return to school and a new calling. She subsequently was ordained, continued in school, and shared herself with my wonderful group for women with met cancer every Monday.

  Having completed her course work, she decided last year to return to Denver to be near her family while she wrote her dissertation and continued to live life as fully and consciously as possible. Changing her medical care has been not without bumps, but she is doing quite well and periodically writes a beautiful blog. She has given me permission to share this latest essay about healing.

Healing and Wholeness

Amy Durfee West

When my cancer was diagnosed in early 2011 I began listening to guided imagery and affirmations. One of the affirmations brought me up short. It said, “More and more, I realize I can heal myself and live, or I can heal myself and die. My wholeness does not depend on my physical condition.” At that time I thought the whole point was to “beat” the cancer. What was that about dying?
As I kept doing the imagery and affirmations on the CD, and writing my own affirmations and prayers, my attitude evolved. Focusing on cancer as “the problem” and thinking that getting rid of the cancer was “the solution” had its uses, but it was too small a container for all the things I was experiencing and all the issues I was confronting. A cancer diagnosis seems like a huge emergency, and it sucks all the life and energy and strength out of you for awhile. But I eventually noticed that I, like almost every other human being, had numerous, uncountable problems, of which cancer was only one. Some of them will never be “solved” until death makes them moot. Many of them are messages or opportunities that suggest specific responses. Some of them seem completely intractable. Cancer is a significant factor in everything else I do, think, say, plan, wish for, and hope for. But it is not all-encompassing.
Thinking of myself or any change in my life circumstances as a “problem” limits my options for responding to the situation. It would be so easy to ricochet from crisis to crisis without ever stopping to think about the point of it all. Or even if there is a point.

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