The C word? Cancer? Oh f*ck me. I was numb. I heard my doctor’s words but felt nothing.
Let me give you the context: It was March 2020.
Yes, just moments before COVID-19 came on the scene and quarantined us all.
My doctor had discovered a 10cm mass in my rectum in October 2019 and after rounds of testing, I still couldn’t get a confirmed diagnosis. All images showed cancer but all of the biopsies came back negative. After my last surgery (that I thought was for the removal of the mass) I woke up from anesthesia to receive a dark prognosis from my New York surgeon: he couldn’t remove it and, from his perspective, the only path forward was major abdominal surgery with a permanent colostomy bag.
My parents picked me up from the hospital and we drove to Boston in silence. Not only was I sitting with this life-changing prognosis but given the state of pandemic lock-down, my mind rationalized that the bag was the best (and likely only) path forward.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve only experienced a couple of these world-rocking moments in my lifetime, when everything you think you know changes in an instant.
In this particular moment, my lower self (i.e. the inner voice of my protective chicken) goes into “savior” mode and just wants everything to be OK. I say to myself “It’s going to be OK. I will make the best of it. I can find people who have done the bag cute. See that girl is adorable!” Action: I send a picture of a girl in a bikini with a colostomy bag to my sister.
My higher-self, (i.e. the voice of God / Dreamer / Author of my life) goes spiritual. I pray.
My prayers were answered in the form of my coach and Jew(ish) mother on loan, Marnie. You may have gotten a taste of her coaching on W(h)ine Down with Marnie…if not, you should join her this Friday at 5PM on Zoom or Instagram Live to see what it’s all about.
When I told her (yes, in passing!) the prognosis and my plan to do the surgery my NY surgeon recommended, she (in her best graceful, loving, WTF of ways) shouted at me: “Absolutely not. Are you insane!? Who is this guy?! Get a second, third, or fourth opinion. Until you get the one you want. YOU are worth it. Do not lie down for anyone but the best of the best. Find your hero, the right cowboy of a surgeon who knows, without question, they can save you. Period. OMG. If you’re 90+ then come talk to me about a bag and being too tired to go to another doctor and want to lie down and surrender. I still might not let you. But at 37?! Get the F up.”
Again, my lower-self reacts, this time in the form of my (defensive) brat “doesn’t she understand?! I don’t WANT to do this. I’ve tried hard enough. Not only am I at my parents’ house but it’s a pandemic, no one is doing surgeries right now, I am still working, I have a podcast tomorrow. WTF, Marnie. Leave me alone. I’m fine!” Rant over. Case closed.
Except it wasn’t. My inner “brat” wants to be done the minute I think “I’ve tried hard enough.” This voice has shown up before. Particularly when going for the dreams that have been my greatest challenges: hunting for love after dating for the last 5 years, working on my coaching skills when I’m already a great coach, and here again with my health.
The good news is, the voice of my higher self, though quiet, was undeniable.
Truth was, Marnie’s dream for me was honestly what I wanted for myself, but I was simultaneously afraid of it (chicken) and didn’t want to do anymore work than I had already done for it (brat).
Thankfully, I shut up my chicken and brat voices and focused on my dream (aka the voice of Marnie). I did the work. Here are the steps I took:
- I collected all of the actual facts about my story.
- I made brave and uncomfortable calls, shopping my case to the best doctors in the country.
- I got many second opinions.
- I created a vision of my body fully healed and went to bed with this vision.
- I sent any negative thoughts/dialogue to my coaches daily with a “talkback” from the voice of my higher self.
- I prayed. For clarity and understanding and a way to make sense of all of this.
- I worked my AA recovery program and made amends as I moved through the process.
Through a series of connections (see: one of Marnie’s best friend’s Tammi!) and miracles, I was hooked up with a colon and rectal surgeon in Santa Monica, Dr. Tracey R. Childs, MD, who saved my ass (literally).
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She, without question, believed she could operate and remove the mass OR get a confirmed diagnosis of cancer and therefore shrink the mass. I flew out to California on a Thursday and went into surgery that Monday (yes, during a pandemic). Turns out, my mind is equally powerful for the dream when I listen to my HIGHEST self.
Now, I was all in – heart, mind, and body.
The real miracle of the story: Dr. Childs removed the mass in ONE procedure. No major abdominal surgery. The mass is gone. I am 100% healed and am now living in California in a new apartment on the beach, happily dating a new pool of men.
What’s my lesson?
I have several (don’t tell Marnie or she will make me write more blogs) but my first one is my mind (aka chicken and brat) lies to me. I didn’t know the truth. If I had stopped and listened to only my lower self and my then doctor, I would be living in New York with a bag vs. living in California, healthy and bag free.
The only bag I’m attached to now is my reusable grocery bag.
Think about it: Where do you settle vs. fight the right fight to get to the truth. Where do you hang up the phone, still talking and listening to the voice in your head that advised you to “white flag” something as important as…you. Isn’t it time you cut it out?
Literally and/or figuratively!