Till recently, I used to smile indulgently whenever I hear the famous biblical story in church about Jesus turning water to wine at a wedding. Ya right. But let me tell you, the modern day version really happened.
When I was informed after a cone biopsy that my cancer had returned, I demanded a second cone biopsy (though it hurt). Ten years ago, I had stage 3. I thought it was gone forever. The hell of going through chemotherapy and radiotherapy never left me. My parents and my brother were ravaged with the pain of my suffering. My children were only young but they bore the brunt too. I could not face the thought of going through it again, I absolutely could not. My fear of it was greater than the treatment itself. I was terrified.
My first priority was insulating my parents, my brother, my children and my children's father from the hell of watching me suffer.I needed them to be distant from my cancer so that they provide me with a normality that I can return to.
A few months ago, I was the carer of someone with a complicated illness (my life effectively stopped for three months) but when I told the person about my illness, the immediate knee-jerk response was "I am sick of sick stories."
It was like a stab in my heart that wounded me more than the cancer. It brought me down to my knees. It was a very uncalled for comment because I have not been sick for the past few years and as a doctor have certainly never told sick stories. But you know what, that was when dirty water turned into glorious wine. I vowed never to tell sick stories again. I walked into the cancer ward with a smile two days later because the words "Sick of sick stories" gave me a strength I never knew I had.
I am not going to kid you, the journey was very difficult. I developed heart complications which became worse than the cancer. I had to be rushed to hospital because of ventricular fibrillation. My cardiologist managed to stabilise me before the ambulance arrived but we went in anyway. When the ambulance arrived at the hospital, I insisted on walking in on my own two feet instead of being wheeled in. I took a selfie - here it is, of me looking bad and badly shaken. I was moments from flat-lining...but I had this fake smile plastered on my face.
My cardiologist allowed me my dignity. For a while, at least. He allowed me to walk in before scooping me up into his arms and striding into the emergency ward carrying me like I was a baby. "I could do this myself," I stormed.
"Don't be silly, Jac," he said silkily. "When you need help, you need help. It's the same for all of us."
That night, as we sat in hospital, I told him all the sick stories I needed to tell. And that was when I got better. The glorious wine became like the purest water in the world, sky juice....the power of kindness is amazing, transformational.
And this is me on the 4th of March. The sickness is gone after drinking that very pure water for three months.
You gotta be able to turn things round, from dirty water to wine to pure sky juice, to live your best life. You've only got one life - live it well. x
Important note: upon reading this article, my cardiologist would like to tell readers that we should never be afraid of telling our 'sick stories'. Seemingly innocuous sensations such as indigestion-like discomfort, aching arm, fatigue, etc could very well be symptoms of something more serious. Always tell your sick stories to those who care.
On a personal note, fifteen years ago, after the birth of my youngest child I did not feel 'right' when I tried meditating. I told my sick story to Guru Dharam Singh Khalsa of School of Kundalini Yoga UK. Guru Dharam told me to go for medical tests. I did and this was how I survived cervical cancer, the silent killer. If Guru Dharam had been 'sick of sick stories', I would not be here today.
First published in www.lifeGO.meSuggest a correction