On February 5th of this year my life took a significant turn. I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer stage 4 and an accompanying auto-immune disorder that inflames my joints and acts like rheumatoid arthritis. Only 7% of cancer patients contract this secondary paraneoplastic syndrome. Lucky me!
After much investigation and sitting with my heart and intuition, I decided to pursue alternative treatment, rather than chemo, and so all expenses, except surgery, have been out of pocket and totaling almost $60,000 to date.
The cancer blood markers are only 50 points from normal, and continue to come down, an amazing feat considering all my treatment has been alternative. .
Being a private person I am reluctant to initiate any type of fundraising. This is, after all, my own illness and no one else's responsibility. But, with the encouragement of friends, I have decided to open this avenue to those who have the desire and means to contribute.
My deepest gratitude and thanks to all who have the wish to contribute, and also to all who ultimately contribute. May your kindness and generosity return to you a million-fold.
And an afterthought.... Receiving a diagnosis as dire as this one causes one to ask the question, "Do I want to live? Why?"
I sat with that question for a long time. I realized that there was a significant part of me that indeed wanted to die...no children, no husband or significant other, a sputtering career that was nearing its end, a spiritual community that dissolved leaving me alone in a town to which I don't have a strong bond and loose friendships. (I have since seen just how amazingly deep and strong those 'loose' friendships really are.)
Did I really want to do what it would take to turn this around? What would it take for me to really want to live, rather to THRIVE?
The answer bounded in full force. " I want to learn how to unconditionally love...I mean, REALLY unconditionally love. I mean EVERYBODY." It is possible. I see the Dalai Lama. He appears to unconditionally love. "I've never met a stranger.", he says. And he is a happy person. He will tell you so. There are so many I close out of my heart for this or that reason. What if I was that person being closed out? That skanky homeless person, or obnoxious politician, or terrorist, or ???? Even my choice of adjectives tells me how skewed and prejudiced my vision of these persons really is. Or those people that I pass every day and never even see because I don't want to look. Wow. My heart has some serious growing to do. What actions would come out of unconditional love? I can't wait to find out!
So of much of my time on this planet, so far, has been spent on being able to help people and having adventures and interesting experiences. Through physical therapy, and through a private healing practice that included deep tissue work, Touch For Health, Educational Kinesiology, biodynamic craniosacral therapy, intuitive massage, and more, service was provided to those who sought help. And then the many wonderful adventures...traveling to Australia twice, learning to pilot a plane, many, many art/craft classes, many classes on survival skills with extended weeks in the wilderness alone, tanning hides, building shelters, teaching firemaking without matches, singing and playing piano, and attending many buddhist retreats and teachings over the past 20 years. I've had a wonderful life filled with wonderful people. I have been semi-retired my whole life, working to get money to have more adventures and experiences and doing work that I loved.
I really didn't have a bucket list of things left to do pre-diagnosis. I'd done most of what I wanted to do. I mean, there's always a new and exciting place, or an experience to be experienced, but I could see that it was just a succession of more things to do, more sensory experiences, with momentary happiness and pleasure but nothing really of lasting satisfaction. Nothing wrong with momentary happiness (this includes happiness lasting for years) and pleasure. They're great! But no lasting satisfaction there. It all comes to an end. It all changes. And then there is a seeking, for the next person, or place, or experience. And repeat for many more years and then life is over.
I'd have to say that in the last five years or so, the zest was gone. I felt kind of stuck and my mental state was slowly following suit. Looking back, I can see that pre-diagnosis I was, in a way, waiting to die. I was doing my best to continue to be of service in my hospital work, but my heart was not really in it. My heart was not really in much of anything. I stopped laughing out loud.
So, this question, "What would it take for me to really want to live, to THRIVE?" really took me. I feel Life coursing through me and inviting me to stick around, especially in nature. I love being out in nature. The Source is so palpable. What is this Source that lives me and all things? I am THAT...at my essence. I want to know THAT more and more. And let all things superfluous drop away for lack of interest. How exciting!
Whether you choose to contribute or not, thank you so much for checking in. May the Joy, Aliveness and Peace that lives us continue to grow in your heart and the hearts of your family and friends.
FYI: If you are following me on www.caringbridge.org, all contributions made on that site go to Caring Bridge, a wonderful cause. Use this site if you choose to donate to this fundraiser. Thanks.
You can also mail or directly deposit checks to: Coast Central Credit Union, PO Box 1788, Weaverville CA 96093, payable to “Denise Bourque”; note account #201235 on the descriptive line of the check.
with much love,