How I faced breast cancer when I thought I was healthy
“I was at the top of my game in body, mind and spirit and suddenly I had to make a choice.” – Marcy
Imgine being healthy, just having your last sucessful breast examination six months ago, only to find out that you now have breast cancer? Marcy had to make a choice. It wasn’t easy. It would entail three surgeries and chemo all within 8 months. Who’s going to help?
Will I die? Why did this happen to me? I can’t believe it. I have three certifications in yoga and I eat right so why me?
I’m not sure anyone can imagine to be flying high to suddenly have to be dealing with cancer. Or maybe you can…
Hear what Marcy has to say about how she got through it. What surprised about her journey in confronting death. How did she do it?
PART I (Listen to Adam talk openly about his pending diagnosis and pending death…)
PART II (Listen to Robert speak about his overcoming being told, “he would die…”)
PART III (Lori a long time hospice volunteer offers us her insight to death and dying….)
Click on the above media player or read the full transcript below.
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Thank you for joining us for this podcast
Episode 045 of True Connections with Weston Jolly
Transcription: 15 things Death and Dying can teach us about life
1. Death isn’t the End.
It’s the beginning. It’s where you are returned back to your original form. Interestingly you are enlightened. This concept is commonly misunderstood or backwards for most people. A lot of people think of death as a time where they will become enlightened.
The soul that returns to Source offers it’s enlightenment to the whole. Thus, every experience is processed as unique, expansive and beautiful. And ultimately it is true, that further aspects of enlightenment are returned to the individual soul in concert to all the lives that have lived and or are living in this world.
2. Death is a Portal to Life.
Death is returning home. Matter can never really be alive. Even your body which seems to represent life is dead. It’s always been dead. It’s appears to be alive in the illusion of life, through Source and Source energy.
When death occurs it’s the end of cycle. And at the same time as death is the beginning of life. Life and death are continuous in how the begin and end. We see this as the sun rises only to set with the rise of the moon. When the moon sets the sun rises.
3. The Most Important Thing About Dying Is It Teaches Us the Opportunity To Be Present.
If someone is dying because of a disease, you’ll notice that their body starts shutting down in areas, and even whole sub-systems of their body, based upon priority. The body turns off less critical bodily systems in an effort to preserve itself. As an example, breath is more important than digesting a meal. Maintaining the rhythm of your heart is more important than a broken arm.
A dying person will not worry about his or her indebtedness because it’s not materially important to the body. This lesson in death is how we might become super focused or super present. Death offers us an incredible opportunity to be focused. It’s simple really, you’re either going to be thinking of how you might continue to live or you will begin to open to the portal of death. The opportunity to be present is a time that all things unimportant are put aside as your mortality comes to an end allowing you to focus on the change that awaits you through death.
4. Forgiveness is easy when you’re about to die.
As we just talked about in the last point, dying removes all the distractions and it provides for clarity in allowing you to be very present. When it comes to letting go of anything you haven’t forgiven, you simply don’t have time, energy or the wherewithal to continue thinking about whom you haven’t forgiven. It’s that simple, forgiveness isn’t a priority.
Your either going to be put all your energy in trying to remain alive or you’ll face death and this reality will be where you turn all your attention. Forgiveness is a nonissue. Once you die you may deal with the burdens that you created in not forgiving yourself for this, that and and the other things but even during your life review you’re unlikely to find forgiveness a sticky point – it just won’t matter any more.
5. Those who have faced death, almost always learn that they can do something way beyond what they thought they could do.
You’ve heard this stated repeatedly by all three of the people we’ve talked to during these interviews. I think it’s fair to say that Adam never thought that he could do the things that he’s already done in his fight to stay alive. Go back and listen to the first episode of 15 things Death and Dying can teach us about life and listen carefully to the list of health issues Adam has faced since his late 20’s.
Robert was told he was going to die and then it’s like the doctor called him back and said, “Hey wait, there’s a the slimmest of chance that you’ll make it.” To be fair this isn’t what the doctor said. But in that moment Robert was focused on the slimmest of chance of surviving. What he had to do to get there was inconceivable but he did it. He overcame things he never thought he could do.
Marcy was the same way. She’d never had a surgical procedure before and enjoyed abundant health only to face three surgeries in a single year. I should also bring forth that there are depths of emotional and aspects of yourself that you may never have known that you had until you face death.
6. Not everyone can face death, even yours. You should expect this.
Before we have started this series 15 things Death and Dying can teach us about life, you probably already had established thoughts and beliefs surrounding death. At the very least, I and the others that I’ve interviewed, hope that your mind has been expanded in discussing this topic. If it hasn’t, then you probably skipped all four episodes of this mini-series.
Anyone not listening because they don’t want to face death or even their own death is to be honored. Obviously, there will be a day or a time when death does have to be addressed. Yet, we’ve learned so much in repeatedly hearing that we don’t need to fear death. How does this affect our living? If you remove fear, most likely the biggest obstacle to your living, then you’re free to expand and to really express.
7. You may be surprised by the people that show up to support you. (It may not always include the people that you think will be there.)
This is a lot like inviting people to a birthday party. There’s always the expectation that the closest of your friends will show up but as you die you may find that these same people, who would be first in line at your party, “can’t make it.” I want to be clear about this point, those who appear not be able to offer you support at this time, are confronted with their own mortality. Unfortunately, this creates a complex series of choices for anyone who wants to offer you their support but they can’t because of their own fears or beliefs.
You’ll find the people who can’t come at the end will be replaced by individuals that you might have never considered would offer you their love and compassion. This may be really highlighted by people who you don’t even know, who are offering you deep intimate support during your most vulnerable time. These strangers are the ones that will knock you for a loop in honor of what they’re giving to you.
If you remember, it was the yoga community that offered Marcy so much love and support. There were many people that Marcy barely knew, or who she didn’t know at all, who came out of the woodwork to offer their real love. With Robert it was the same when when some of his friends from decades ago suddenly came forward to offer him extraordinary backing. How does this relate to your living today?
Every time you offer someone real love, especially as a stranger, you’ll find these moments exceedingly precious. Try it. Go out and really do something that is wildly outside of what you’ve ever done before to someone that you have no relationship with and see for yourself what comes of such an experience.
8. Death teaches how to love more. There is no greater lesson than offering our compassion for one another.
This is the singular thing that you see most when the end is near. The fear goes away and there’s a purity in focus and even spirit to love in ways that may have never been previously expressed. Individual passengers aboard United Airlines flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania during the day of 911 didn’t call their loved ones to convey anything but love. It was the only thing that they were thinking of.
Because when you face death, even sitting next to a stranger, there’s an instant bond that is created as a result of the experience. In the HBO documentary, Band of Brothers men facing the deeps of hell in war bond in ways that seem inconceivable.
There’s an intimacy in facing death with another. Every degree of separation is removed. As one passenger of Captain Sully’s Miracle on Hudson said, “I don’t think there are words of gratitude when you realize the fragile nature of life.”
All the degrees of separation are removed.
9. Talking about death does not mean that you’re going to die.
This seems silly but so is any superstition. There is no correlation that your taking about death is going put you on the path to your own funeral. It is common, quite common, for people to avoid talking about death but this is the point. It shouldn’t be.
Death is unavoidable and those who confront it are often liberated. Those who cheat death find there’s something in that space, not just to rehearse or talk about as a close call, but the space of wondering if this is the time. This is true for those who know that they’re going to die.
In interviewing Adam, you can’t help but feel the strength and courage as he faces his own death. It’s a completely different matter to stand up publicly during this time of your life and share your thoughts as Adam did. Really consider this in thinking about Adam’s interview. Would you want to be interviewed publicly for a podcast or for that matter go onto a TV show knowing that you’re dying? The answer is really clear -it’s very rare. And when I say very rare, I mean it’s extremely rare.
For you see, Adam, Robert and Marcy have been candidly openly in sharing their personal health trials and it’s exceptionally rare. To put this into proportion, Lori perfectly described assisting a burly Irish firefighter who would not talk of his death even when he weighed less than a 100lbs and was in hospice care for months. Instead of your avoiding talking about death, we can see the love and the compassion by all the people that were interviewed to give you something.
Does this make sense? Everyone one of our interviewers came forth putting away any fears to be come to the front of the room to speak and they did so boldly. The only reason that each of these individuals did was so that they could offer you something about their journey. In essence, they wanted to offer you love, understanding and compassion so it would make your journey easier.
If you think about that it’s hard to keep your eyes dry. I love that and every person that has given and shared of themselves in this way. I want to say personally thank you….
10. Most people spend more time planning a vacation than telling those intimate around them how they want to die.
Yep, Lori did a wonderful job of binging this to our attention. I know of at least one couple that stopped the last podcast and immediately began to discuss their wishes about how they wanted to die. Since we’re all in an intimate space, you might as well hear my wishes.
I don’t want a funeral. I don’t want to be buried but rather cremated. Whatever or whomever would participate in letting go of my ashes I hope they will immediately forget my body. I do hope that the things I’ve shared or done will be remembered in the context of me just being another man -imperfect in all my ways. But I do hope and put forth with every breath that I might make a difference. That I might inspire you to life.
For me that’s worth living. I hope it leaves a marked impression to connect within to the highest aspects of Source that you and others might become fully aware and filled with the freedom that this same truth offers you. I feel so passionate about this I can think of nothing else to do with my energy and my time.
I hope you find time to talk about how you want to live too. I also hope that you can let go of any fears associated with your dying. As you’ll see, all of this fear, is a waste of our precious time.
11. Someone telling you that you may die may not be the truth.
This happens. I’ve done it. I’ve told a person that she would die and she didn’t. I’ve also told many people that they would die and they did.
There’s a reason for this and it’s free will choice. I will address this further in our last point in discussing 15 things Death and Dying can teach us about life. If a doctor tells you that you’re going to die and he or she is wrong, consider it an opportunity.
It might have been a mistake. Maybe it was a miracle that the issues before subsided temporarily or completely but to live you must be going forward. That’s what life is, isn’t it? Going forward. So, if someone tells you that you’re going to die and they’re wrong, go on and live. Not in anger for the possible error in the communication, but in appreciation that you’re time here is limited.
12. Ignoring the fact that you’re going to die doesn’t make it easier for anyone to live —especially you.
I shared with all of you in the Truth About Life Reviews, that I knew and befriended Elisabeth Kübler-Ross the author the famous book Death and Dying. Elisabeth knew she was dying. She was being professionally cared for when I met her. Perhaps this is why our paths crossed when they did. I wanted to offer her further understanding what she was facing on the other side, but my contribution wasn’t scientific but totally spiritual.
There was rebuffing here and there to the things I shared with Elisabeth on her way to death but deep within I could tell that she knew I stood as a lighthouse for truth. Only to illuminate the way. In the end, you could see the child-like eyes of a woman, a strong woman who had stood up and contributed in an era when it wasn’t as easy for women to be seen or noticed.
I’m especially glad that she chose me, on some level, to participate with her and to offer her the same loving consideration that she’d been so brave to stand up and offer the world. I’m in awe in remembering Elisabeth…
You being more comfortable about death as whole will indeed contribute significantly to your living now. There is no greater contribution as I see it. The more you live the more we all benefit, and I know that it makes a marked difference to the whole. This too is why I’m encouraged to talk about death and when you’re ready to really talk about life.
13. Wanting to die, or coming to place where you don’t want to live any longer, isn’t a sin.
This is a biggie. There are a lot of views, perspectives and beliefs surrounding death. These perspectives don’t need to be reviewed because this will all be done in your individual life review but it is important that dying in any form isn’t bad or wrong.
This is the point. Even the most devout in their faith can wonder if they’re doing something wrong by giving up. If you listen again to Adam in our first interview, you’ll hear it in his voice and his words. Once you make a decision to let go, everything becomes so much easier.
This too was emphasized by Lori that letting go shouldn’t be considered anything but human. While your body is designed to preserve itself by all measures possible this is THE time where there is nothing to preserve. There’s a beauty in your letting go versus holding on.
14. Most people find a comfort in their beliefs when death is eminent.
This is true for some and then for others it’s a time of a time of change. For Constantine, the first Roman emperor, it was a time he renounced his beliefs in consideration for another set of beliefs. My only point here is to be connected to what feels best for you. If this is a time to change your beliefs so be it.
If your beliefs strengthen and assist you in the end then pursue it. Whatever helps you to be further connected is encouraged. In one sense this doesn’t need to be said. What does, it that many find extreme comfort in embracing their beliefs as they die.
15. Souls can die at various check-out times.
This is something that wasn’t discussed during our interviews but I wanted to share it here. As a physical being there may be several windows for you to die. For example, when I was Senior in college my brother was driving us back home from Las Vegas. It was very early in the morning and he feel asleep at the wheel. We nearly had a head on collision with car on a two-way road. It was a window of opportunity for both of us to die.
Instead, we both walked away hardly a scratch even though the car flipped several times after our near miss with an oncoming car. The car was totaled. Both my brother and I decided to stay. It was momentous event that changed how I would live.
Okay, I know I promised you 15 things Death and Dying can teach us about life but I want to leave you with one extra.
16. It’s normal to grieve a death even if it’s your own.
When someone dies, even though you might even have all the time in world to prepare for the death it’s still likely you’re going to grieve. Grief isn’t unusual as much as it should be expected. Grieving for someone near to you is normal but I bet you have never thought that you might grieve your own passing.
If you’re giving time before your departing in this life, it might be a step in the process that you experience in the beginning. Towards the end of your life you won’t be focused on grief. However, some souls do have some grief-like emotions when they pass. During the life review there can be tendency to get stuck a little and afterlife grief is quite normally brief. It isn’t that big of deal, because at one point you’ll move on, but I thought I should mention it.
In conclusion of our 15 things Death and Dying can teach us about life series there is so much more we can learn about life. I’d love to hear your stories and comments. Certainly, I hope you consider sharing True Connections with Weston Jolly because everything you’ve experienced can and does greatly assist others. With continued honor for your presence in sharing everything and with special acknowledgement to Adam, Robert, Lori and Marcy for their very personal contributions. And of course you, for listening sharing and again your contributions.
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