Facing My Own Mortality

Here’s the background: for the past three years I’ve had a bony bump on my forehead.  It didn’t hurt or grow much, changed little, and mostly I ignored it. It started to bother me when I saw it in photographs, and to assuage my vanity, I looked into having it removed.  I was pretty sure it was a cyst or other benign growth. A plastic surgeon was about to do it, but decided I really needed a CT scan first, to be sure what was under there…

Now we jump ahead to my move to Maui in March of this year.  I finally had health insurance and on my first visit to meet my doctor, I mentioned the bump. So I had an xray of my head that day, and she called me later, sounding worried. She said they needed to do a CT scan and that it was a “lytic lesion”, which could have many causes, but it means something is “eating away” at the bone. So, I have a CT of my head, and now she mentions she’s consulted an oncologist.

For someone whose daughter died from cancer less than two years ago, that is about the last thing I wanted to hear.

He or she (the unseen oncologist) recommends a CT of my chest, abdomen and pelvis, and what I understand, while I’m completely freaking out, is they think I’ve had cancer somewhere in my body (for over 3 years) that has spread to the bone in my skull. The doctor was obviously scared on the phone, and this is what worried me the most.  She wasn’t reassuring. She didn’t say this is just a rare possibility.  When I asked “but wouldn’t I have some symptoms if I’d had cancer for over 3 years that had spread to my skull??”, she said “Not necessarily.”  I told her my doctor friend had said there are many benign possibilities, and her response was “well, did you tell her it’s a lytic lesion?”

The BIG CAT Scan

CT scan, CAT scan,

CT scanner

I went for the big CT scan.  It took 2 intense days of waiting, with little sleep, terrifying unbidden images filling my head, of what my life would be like if I was told I had cancer somewhere that had spread to my bone.  Imagining what treatments I might have to go through, what would be the chances I’d be cured, what quality of life I would have, on and on. I do have a good imagination, though I was focusing on imagining my body whole, healthy, vibrant and living to be an old woman…

Finally the doctor called and told me there was nothing of concern in these full-body scans. But now they needed to do an MRI of my head, to get a more detailed image. I had an MRI done of my head, again waiting on pins and needles for a call with the results, and she tells me they still can’t tell what it is, but the possible diagnoses on the radiologist report include cancer, and also benign possibilities. Each test they think will give more information and rule out cancer, but each test shows a mystery.  All this time, I can hear the fear in my doctor’s voice, talking about what next test the oncologist recommends. 

Gratitude for my inner and outer resources

I am incredibly grateful for all the tools that I have: over 15 years of practicing Reiki and giving myself Reiki constantly during this time; years of practice remaining in the heart-center in the midst of chaos and fear; the aromatherapy, herbal, nutritional and homeopathic remedies I knew to use for calming my nervous system and clearing the radioactive dyes they injected into my veins; doing prayer and ho’oponopono constantly.   I am grateful for knowing to get help and support from others too – receiving acupuncture and craniosacral work, hypnotherapy and energy healing from my gifted and wise friend Kathleen, talking with family and a few close friends. I’m incredibly grateful for my partner, Zelie, who was with me every step of the way, offering to be with me for each appointment, listening to all my stories and holding me while I cried.

Fear of Not Living

I am grateful, because even with all these tools, I cried. A lot. Even with my own and others’ intuitive read that I did not have cancer and wasn’t dying, I was terrified. I was more frightened than I’ve ever been in my life. More off-center and filled with anxiety than I’d  been during the ten and a half months that Elizabeth had cancer, or even when she died.  I kept working with this fear, asking what was it I was so frightened of? It wasn’t fear of death. I know deeply that when it’s time to die, death itself is welcome. It was fear of not living. What terrified me most was the idea that I have so much left to do, that I haven’t yet fulfilled my purpose here, and I need many years still to do that.  I feel I’ve been preparing my whole fifty years of life (maybe even lifetimes) for what lies ahead, and I was afraid I wasn’t going to have that chance.

Of course, I did not want to have cancer either. Watching my grandfather, then my daughter, and now one of my closest friends go through treatment for cancer, I knew I could do it if I had to, but really. I was asking the Divine “Really? Can I please have a break?” I lost my daughter less than two years ago, I was still exhausted from my move to Hawaii, and I am entering what feels like the best, prime years of my life for my work serving others: writing, teaching, facilitating, doing healing work and bringing through the gifts that Elizabeth shares through me. I could not believe that the Divine plan was for me to go so soon, and yet, I didn’t believe that was the plan for Elizabeth, and she was just 22 when she died of cancer.  I knew that it was not up to me and my preferences. I kept doing The Work, inquiring within my heart about the truth of what I was believing, and on some deep level, I had to surrender to the mystery and the suchness (as my teacher Brugh Joy used to say).

I felt Elizabeth especially close throughout these many months, from April til early August.  The synchronicity of this was not lost. She had lymphoma, initially in her chest, which recurred in her brain. This recurrence was essentially untreatable, and my mystery bump was on my head, in a very similar place to where her tumor was, on the opposite side. (Interestingly, my bump had appeared some time in the months before Elizabeth was diagnosed with cancer.)  I sat with her as she had brain MRIs done, CT scans of her body, countless blood draws, meetings with worried doctors, and I could only experience that through my own eyes and heart, as her mother.  This time, it was my body we were talking about, my life, and it was a completely different experience. I feel that a large part of why I was going through all these tests and the emotions that accompanied them, was so that I could have a better understanding of what Elizabeth (and others facing a terminal illness) may have gone through.  Another part is to take me deeper on my own healing path, feeling and expressing layers of emotions and writing about some difficult aspects of my relationship with Elizabeth.

Direct Evidence of The Mind/Body Connection

I’ve long had an immense respect for, and direct experience of the mind-body connection. What happened during this time of such stress served to more deeply embed this in my being. I hadn’t had any pain from this bump, other than an occasional tenderness over the years. However, after I heard the possibility that it could be cancer, and I was so overwhelmed with fear, with my stress levels high, I started having pain in the area of the bump! I could feel the pain increase after I had a conversation with my doctor, and I could feel the pain decrease when I placed a tachyon directly over it.  The tachyon is a small disk that helps to direct healing energy to what it’s placed on. It also had an immediate effect of visibly shrinking the bump! I could feel my body relax as soon as I placed the tachyon, and seeing the bump shrink by the week also helped me to relax, so it worked in several ways.

Lab Tests to Rule Out Myeloma

Finally I had a new doctor who agreed that blood tests might give some information towards a diagnosis. Kaiser sent me an email with each test result, and with each one my heart would be racing as I clicked on the link to see the results. Almost all came back quickly and normal, (and I’ve never been so happy to be normal in my life!), until we were down to the one test for myeloma (bone cancer), which seemed to be the doctor’s biggest concern.  This one, of course, took many days, and the first of two parts came back normal, which had me sobbing in relief. However it was on a Friday afternoon that the last of the tests came in. I was so nervous – it felt like I was going to open an envelope that would determine the course of the rest of my life. The result showed something that I did not understand and didn’t know how to interpret!  I could not believe it.  I had to wait til Monday to receive an email response from my doctor that it was normal!  Finally, something in me shifted and I trusted what I’d been feeling, that I do not have cancer and my body is healthy.

There was one piece to complete however, which involved surgery (albeit minor), to my head. You may know that Elizabeth had brain surgery in July of 2012, to try to remove the tumor which wasn’t responding to chemo, and the surgery did not go as planned. Her brain swelled, necessitating a second surgery to remove part of her skull, and she then had a stroke. After a week in ICU following the surgeries, she came home to hospice. So having a bone biopsy of my skull was rather unnerving, but this was the way to get clarity about what is causing this bony growth.  (I’d been asking for this since the beginning of the tests and mystery, but that is another story.)

A Bone Biopsy and Flashbacks

The biopsy itself was fairly uneventful, with Zelie flying with me from Maui over to Oahu as that’s where they can do a CT-guided biopsy. They told me I wouldn’t have much pain afterward, even though the radiologist had to essentially drill a small hole into my forehead bone. The next day at home, as the local and sedative medications wore off, I started to have intense pain. Fear combined with pain makes it much worse, and because I’d been told not to expect pain, I was worried that something was wrong. We were also preparing for a hurricane that night, which only added to the stress… 

Elizabeth Blue, Elizabeth Meagher, hospice

Elizabeth liked ice packs on her head – this was when she was in hospice, not in much pain

Sitting with a frozen pack on my head and crying in pain brought me right back to when Elizabeth was having horrible pain in her head, when the cancer had come back in her brain, but before we knew that’s what was going on.  I finally took something stronger than a tylenol, along with many remedies to help reduce swelling and bruising, and to facilitate healing, including arnica, dandelion root tea, and turmeric, and was able to get some restless sleep that night.

Cancer Free

I received an email the next day, saying there was no cancer found! All they could say was that it was “reactive bone”, usually caused by trauma. So on one hand I’m back to where I started, with a bump on my forehead, no real idea what it is, and knowing that it is nothing to worry about, which had been true these past three years. On the other hand, I’m in a very different place than where I started: I have a new perspective on mortality and what it can feel like when you, or your doctors, believe you may have a terminal illness. I have a different appreciation for the amount of time we have here, and how precious each day is. I wish I could say that every day is beautiful and the whole world looks fabulous all the time, but that’s not quite it. I’ve always been grateful to be alive. I lost my father at age 3, and had a usually fatal illness myself when I was 4, so I’ve been blessed with a profound appreciation for the gift of life as long as I can remember. What has changed is subtle. It is slowing down, eating more croissants (cause we never know…), loving more, with greater compassion, and I hope, greater presence.

Lucia Maya, healing, heart

My new heart…

Almost two weeks later, I still have a bruise/abrasion (mysterious how it got there – it covers the bump, but it’s not where they placed the needle) in the shape of a heart on my forehead. It may go away eventually, but I feel like I now have a heart tattooed on my third eye, a daily reminder to see everything through the heart. And another reminder that my heart will continue to heal.

34 thoughts on “Facing My Own Mortality

  1. What a phenomenal sequence of events, dear one. I’m sad to hear there was much time spent wondering, not knowing how it was going to turn out. What never ceases to amaze me, however, is your courage in practicing Byron Katie’s, “The Work, at times when anyone else would be thinking, “Ok, if ever there was a time when I would be entitled to lose it–with gnawing feelings of dread, panic and anxiety–it is now.” Yet, you always seem to choose the growth pill, bitter though it’s taste may be, and expand beyond your previous circumference into a wider, deeper, richer self than you were previously. You are the perfect blend of Light and awareness of darkness, Lucia Maya. We continue to learn and be blessed by your soul-filled journeys.

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  2. What an emotional roller coaster you have been on. My heart goes out to you and Zelie. I am s relieved that you are well. You are right, you have much more to share with so many. Love you, Lucia.

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  3. I thank God for your good news, Lucia! I wish I had known what you were going through, and I would have been sending YOU prayers and healing energy. Although we have never met on the physical plane, I feel the hugeness of your heart through your photos and your writing. And now you have two–one in your fourth chakra, and one over your third eye. How totally perfect for you!
    Aloha and Namaste’

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    • Dear Joan, thank you so much! I felt compelled to stay quiet about this mostly, as it was happening, needing it to be a mostly internal process. I so appreciate your willingness and connection! love and aloha, Lucia

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  4. Oh my dear Lucia….I am so grateful and relieved that you are okay. Your wisdom and grace come through your telling of such a harrowing experience….as always. Will hold you in my prayers.

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  5. Awe Sweet Lucia! You are such a breath of fresh air, even now more so that I now know your struggles!! I love your new tattoo and how beautiful right on your 3rd eye!!! You amaze me and I so enjoy your long distance Reiki calls!! Thank you for you and thank you for all you do in your serving. Many Blessings to you!!!!

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  6. “We must walk into the darkness to truly appreciate the light” has been said often. Regardless of how much the mind wants our life to be a certain way, our heart always seems to guide the true path. How blessed you are to have found such an amazing heart hidden in the darkest places of your soul! What a powerful journey into terror and emerging even deeper into the light! I think you have a lovely heart given by the richest and deepest love of the Divine.

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  7. Wow! The process you described, of feeling that you wanted to live for the higher purpose of why you are here is exactly what my thought process was,
    that made me dig deep and have an amazing journey of fighting and, yes, curing breast cancer. Something changes, shifts and is never the same. Is it taking life for granted, which I thought I never did but perhaps was or was it just about shifting layers of stuff and letting go? I am still, 5+years out, doing processes to clear and cleanse even though sometimes we need to just enjoy a croissant! Life is about joy, hope, faith and letting go. I am so sorry to hear how long you have been dealing with this issue. I love your new tattoo and love you! You are right as having gone through all that you have been through is in preparation for something bigger with Elizabeth at your back and in your heart!

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    • I’m so glad you’re doing well, and it’s been a privilege and an inspiration to witness your healing process. I do feel Elizabeth has my back and is in my heart and so grateful for that! love, Lucia

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  8. This is so beautiful, I was scared to death for you, I cried with you, and I felt your joy. I loved the mind body connection, I love your attitude. I love you. Thank you so much for writing this!

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  9. OMG Lucia – no idea! I love u & Zelie with all my heart & it breaks to read of this part of your journey – Blessings to you my friend. As always mahalo for your generosity of Spirit in sharing so generously & openly! Speedy recovery & Grace in Her multitude of shades!

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  10. Lucia, I never got to know you very well during my time in Arizona, but I’m grateful to get to know you a little better in this blog entry of yours. Thanks so much for writing this!
    Brad Cahill

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  11. I have to say I have goosebumps, Lucia. What a terrifying yet extraordinary experience. I am so sorry you had to go through this but thankfully you are healthy and it has turned out to be benign. I hope that the physical pain you felt was the Universe’s way of helping you release the emotional and spiritual pain you experienced with the loss of your daughter, so you can now move forward and continue on your path.

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  12. Wow, I was right there by your side throughout. What a terrible experience, yet I was intrigued. Knowing from your blog how much Elizabeth meant to you, I couldn’t help but wonder did you have any urge to bow out and join her. How wonderful that your healing has meant you very definitely chose life.
    Co incidently the week before I went on holiday, a few weeks ago. I found a breast lump. My sister and three first cousins all have had breast cancer and thankfully seem to be all doing well. I went through a wealth of emotion, but thankfully I got the all clear, it was just a cyst.
    There is such a fine line between health and illness. With different news we would be living very different lives today. Phew, we get to breathe again, and smell the roses.
    By the way I love your little love heart.

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    • Tric, a great question…I haven’t had any conscious desire to “bow out”, to leave my body, in fact, the fear I felt was mostly about feeling like I still have so much I want to do in this lifetime. Yet, it was a good opportunity to explore the unconscious aspects at play, looking deeply to find that part of me (the unconscious part we all have) that wants to be relieved of all worldly cares and stresses. Once I could find that, and acknowledge it, it was easier to move more fully into healing, and life. I didn’t write about that as it’s so complex, but it was a big piece of the process – to be willing to at least search for that part of myself….

      I’m so glad that your health scare turned out fine, and that your sister and cousins are doing well. It is true how quickly one test can turn our lives upside down, as we both know so well. I’m so grateful.
      blessings, Lucia

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  13. Lucia,
    I am so happy to hear that tests showed no cancer & even more Happy you are feeling better. Relief is the word that comes to mind on so many levels with that whole turn of events.
    It’s so easy to care for others & heal on a grand level but our bodies are just as important to take care of too. I highly recommend adding all Organic, non -GMO, & specifically GREEN foods to your diet. We all actually need this as we face the food system that’s now in place. I can totally guide you if you need help knowing which is highest importance & so on.
    You have such a special place in my heart & I’m going to send you some super powered Reiki energy for health & healing.
    Abundant blessings, xoxoxo~Kim

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    • Kim, thank you for the Reiki and your kind words. I write on my other blog at LuminousAdventures about just what you mention here. I believe in eating well, which for me means mostly organic, whole foods, lots of greens and veggies, with a superfood powered smoothie every morning. I love sharing this information with others as well, as I know for myself how connected our physical, mental and emotional bodies are, and that when I take care of one, all parts of myself benefit.
      sending you much aloha, Lucia

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  14. Hi Lucia.So sorry to hear about your latest stress.I really don’t know what to say but I understand your anxiety. Just keep loving yourself and the world,don’t know what else to say.The sun will be out tomorrow?

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