Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Fierceness

Ten years ago I was working alone in my recording studio, adding the final touches to one of my new songs. The phone rang and a voice on the other end told me that I had stage-4 cancer. I had had no symptoms. In an instant the whole world careened to a total stop.

The next day a young doctor, after enthusiastically telling me about the new house he was buying for his family in an upscale suburb, very cauusally mentioned that I had an extremely rare form of cancer and that it was inoperable and incurable. I remember calling my sister from a telephone booth near the medical center. I remember the un-controlable tears streaming down my face as she told me she would fly out right away to be with me. They weren't tears of sadness or self pity. They were tears of joy upon realizing my sister's love for me.

Thus began an amazing roller coaster ride of heartbreaking joy and darkest despair. Over the next few days, as I experienced the tremendous love of my family and friends, my heart opened wide. It truly broke open. I was amazed at the power of love. I didn't know I could love that much. Or allow myself to be loved that much.

I also remember the beginning of what I call "the fierceness". I was driving across the Bay Bridge, maybe a week after my initial prognosis. I had just begun reading a book on alternative cancer treatments and it started to give me hope. Suddenly, in the middle of the bridge, I got really angry. Who are these people to tell me that my cancer is incurable? How do they know? How dare they!

When I got to the medical center twenty minutes later and stepped out of my car I was like a new person. An hour earlier I had been walking slowly and a little hunched over — like an old man, with one foot in the grave. Now there was spring in my step. I was fully energized. I was fierce and vitally alive. I learned that if someone tells you that your disease is incurable it means that they don't have a cure for it. You thank them very much and go looking for someone who does have a cure.

And so I started on a five year journey — a search that eventually led me back to my life and my health.

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