Cancer has hit our family, and it has hit hard and fast. One month ago my sweet soul of a brother-in-law was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer, spread to his liver. As we were still reeling from the news, my father was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma which has spread to his lungs, stomach, lymph and adrenals. Needless to say, life happened while we were making summer plans. If ever there was a test for practicing mindfulness, patience, and perseverance, that time is now.
Having now spent close to two weeks with my parents and brother in the deep South (in June), my new reality has started to settle in, or at least sink in to how life changes when cancer comes to dinner. As both a participant and an observer to the family drama that unravels when a loved one is handed a shortened life sentence, I witnessed how words, expectations and fears can turn a healing opportunity into discouraging agony. State of mind, choice of words, and strength of spirit have a huge impact in the ability to think clearly and tap into the inherent healing capability of the body and mind.
As my father dutifully drinks down the various concoctions that I prepare, and laments over the unhealthy foods he shall eat no more, I can’t help but smile inside as his taste buds reawaken from their lengthy processed food coma, his blood pressure begins to lower, and his energy level “inexplicably” increases. Yes dad, there is kale with those beets and you will eat them, and eventually you will learn to love them. No dad, scotch is not on the approved list of drinks, but I promise you that the aloe, lime and coconut water cocktail I will prepare for you will fill the void nicely. It’s pronounced ‘keen wha”, not “quinoa”…. and yes, you have to eat it with you spinach and sprouts. Now open your mouth and take your oils under the tongue, chase it with the lemon and turmeric water, and LET’S DO THIS!!!
Restocking a semi-professional kitchen that my mom has ruled for 45 years is no easy feat. Re-educating and empowering her is one of the biggest challenges of our lives together, and time is of the essence. Visualizing and sharing this next chapter in my parent’s lives together, one in which they are healthy, happy and cancer-free, fuels my intention. As we navigate the research facilities, doctors, and newest immunology breakthroughs, we also stay focused on creating the healthiest environment, internally and externally, for my dad to not only survive, but thrive. His body literally will transform and strengthen for the fight of his life. The wisdom of Ayurveda, along with the knowledge and experience of our incredible network of doctors, teachers, practitioners, herbalists and healers, gives me incredible hope for my dad’s healing potential.
As my husband and I were sharing our sadness and grief together over the phone across thousands of miles, separated yet again due to forces beyond our control, he told me to stay the course and remember: my job of educating, encouraging and initiating change from my parent’s long history of set beliefs and habits is like turning the Titanic with flippers. But apparently I was blessed with some seriously strong flippers, because I do believe this ship is turning towards safer waters.