Then in July this year, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. I was told that without treatment, I had a month to live. It was a devastating shock. If you're interested, you can read more about the diagnosis here.
I kept asking the doctors, and myself, how does a non-smoking, barely-drinking, vegetarian runner who meditates get cancer? The answer is just plain bad luck. It happens. To people who are old. People who are young. People who are religious. People who are atheists. People who exercise. People who don't.
We don't really know what causes cancer. There are a ton of factors at play. Genetics. Environment. History of illness. Exposure to radiation or chemicals. Stress. It is almost impossible to pinpoint the exact cause. And as I have learnt, every case is different. Every diagnosis is different. Treatment and outcomes will vary from person to person.
I have been through all the stages of grief, and back again, when it comes to my diagnosis. Denial. This absolutely cannot be happening to me. It's not. I feel fine. Anger. How did this happen? I eat well, exercise, meditate, use organic skin products and do my best to live a healthy lifestyle. Frustration.Why is this happening to me?! Why can't I live a normal life? Depression.There is absolutely no point to anything. Acceptance. I have cancer.
Studies have shown that meditation is helpful in reducing anxiety, depression, fatigue, and pain. Recent research has shown meditation changes the cellular structure of cancer patients.
Many people come to meditation after a serious illness or life crisis. I feel extremely fortunate that I already had meditation skills up my sleeve when I was diagnosed. Meditating didn't make the cancer go away (modern medicine did that), or make me feel magically positive about the whole experience. But it does help take the edge off. It helps when I'm feeling nauseous. It helps keeps me sane when I'm facing a long recuperation. It helps me to stay in the present moment when I'm agonizing over how did this happen or what happens next? It provides moments of stillness and peace.
I'm looking forward to sharing meditation with others again in the new year. In the meantime, this is me breathing, moment by moment, without judgement, and breathing again.