Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A New Truth

After a dozen or so false starts on writing a blog post, I woke up this morning and decided that I do not have to say something important.  I do not have to write a piece that I am proud of --I just need to write and post.

It has been two weeks since I entered into the slow process of cancer diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment.  We have not yet started the treatment phase and we have barely touched on the prognosis.

But I know.  This is bad.  I have stage four lung cancer.  My google investigation reveals that less than one percent of people with this diagnosis live five years.  The median life expectancy is eight months.  My pelvis has a large tumor that I have been struggling with excruciating pain in for many months.  It was more than two years ago that I had acupuncture and saw an orthopedic doctor for hip pain.  I know, this is a grim diagnosis.

I have faced the reality that I may die in the very near future and I have been surprised at my reaction.  I have been emotionally pretty fine.  Don't get me wrong, when I think about my two children and I think about the future for them my heart is broken in a way that keeps me from going there.  I have not been thinking much about the future or the past.  This diagnosis has proven to be the most zen experience I have ever had.  I have been forced (or chosen?) to live in the moment.  It sounds so cliche, but it is all I have.  It has been a trip of an experience so far-- and I am okay.

I have to pinch myself and ask, is this denial? I don't think so, I am really clear that this shit is real.  Is this just a phase that will change? Probably. Is this the reward for actively working on my own spirituality for the past several years and knowing where I stand and what I believe? I think so, but that is only part of it.

I've been through the deaths of many beloveds.  I have only once had the honor of walking through a death that was known as likely ahead of time.  Tragic deaths rob us of the chance to hold and touch each other and to sob and share love.  Although i can hardly bare to think of the impact that losing me will have on my children in the future, as I face the real possibility of my mortality, I feel blessed to have the chance to die in a known way.  Blessed to be able to invite you to go through this process with me.  To laugh, to cry, to touch each other and to share love.

I know this is very morbid--I am not giving in or giving up.  I know there are miracles.  But I am not called to ask to be a miracle.  I will take it with gratitude if it is meant to be, I will be very sad to not be in this body and this world as I know it, but I have known and accepted for a long time that this life was a limited time offer.

I hope I don't sound like a selfish asshole--these feelings of peace around most of this make me wonder if I am one.  I think I needed to write because this diagnosis and the thoughts and feelings that go along with it have been surprising.  I hope to continue to document this process in writing as I move through it.  I am blessed by the love and support of so many people around me right now--I hope that everyone gets to know this kind of love in their lifetime.  In love, Colleen


  1. I do not want you to go and I do not want green eggs and ham. Yes it's meant to be very deep;) I am saddened about your diagnosis so far and brings hot tears while I'm writing you. I know that as time gets along the time you and I have spent together is widening and with all this dis-ease I do want to move in closer to you but in a strange way these are the type of connections that I find to be much more valuable. Colleen, this represents our humanity on a smaller scale and I'm taking our group..our trips to the woods....our beautiful clan, our spiritual and crazy clan

  2. I wish I could describe just how much you inspire me. "I am not called to be asked to be a miracle," doesn't sound like you are giving up. Coming from you, it sounds/feels like grace, and an honoring of life in a very deep way. I hear trust in your voice.

  3. Thank you for getting up and writing this. I so wish I had walked over to greet you at the service the other day. Clearly, I have not processed the pain you are in and just assumed you would travel downstairs for the gathering. Just know I have not stopped thinking about you and sending love to you and your family since you first wrote of your diagnosis.

  4. Colleen, we have walked the halls and shared classes at United for over three years and I have watched you. I have watched your grace through transformation into someone who has found her place on this planet, in her own spiritual experience. I have watched you laugh, question, doubt, rise up, cry, rejoice and love. Love with abundance.

    You are right. Our time in these bodies has always been limited, but we all hope that the legacy we leave with those who love us and those whom we love is filled with good things. I believe that you have created legacies; in your children, in your communities, in your justice shack, in the many people who call you friend, in me.

    You have been a part of my journey these past few years, and I have watched you. I will continue to watch you from afar, from Facebook, Caring Bridge, from blog posts, through mutual people and you will consistently be on my "prayer door" as a constant reminder to keep you in my prayers.

    You are a loved individual, a genuine gift of the spirit, of the earth, of your holy.

    Thank you.

  5. I think your blog ate my comment... At the risk of repeating myself, your blog post is amazing, Colleen. Your spirit and authenticity are brilliant lights in dark times. I am utterly dazzled at your insight and way with words (the "limited time offer" made me craugh - cry/laugh) and how you are caring for those of us who love you. You're something special!! <3 So much love to you, dear one! <3