Editors Note: This is a guest post written by Nirvana Marini. Her story is beautiful 🙂
I remember the morning of 11 June 2013 as if it were an event that occurred in the past 24 hours. The cold splotch of the ultrasound gel slapped my skin and jolted me to attention in a way that previous ultrasounds didn’t. As trite as this sounds, it was as if my body was subconsciously trying to tell me to pay attention. To look after myself. To care more.
As the ultrasonographer routinely went about examining every inch of my abdomen prior to a minor medical procedure, there was something about the way she stopped sharply with her “wand”, pressed down a little firmly and moved inch by inch backwards and then forwards – forcing, probing, inquiring. A deathly silence filled the air as I too could see what was unmistakeably on the monitor – in black and white, for all to see – both her and I. “What…what is that?” I managed to stammer.
She paused a moment as if to gather her thoughts, to ensure that what was about to emerge from the depths of her diaphragm was as gentle, disarming and unobtrusive as possible. “It looks like you have somewhat of a mass on your kidney…” she trailed off, probing ever more to confirm her self-ordained diagnosis.
A pallor washed over my face. My gut wrenched with a sudden jolt of anxiety and my breathing immediately quickened. Sensing my unmistakeable alarm, she quickly found the words to assuage my fears – “don’t worry my dear, I am sure it’s just a cyst”. But her kind words did nothing to quell the doubt in my mind.
My minor procedure was over in a matter of 20 minutes, but the hours that followed as I waited for word on how sure we could be of said cyst or mass were sheer agony. Intravenous contrasts, intrusive CT scans and inanimate radiographers cooked up a swirling pot of incomprehensible alphabet soup within my mind. How could this be? I’m only 24. I did a quick mental reconnaissance. I eat healthily, I don’t smoke, my drinking habits are conservative at best, relative to my peers, not the most athletic and active individual, but that was attributable to how busy, career driven and goal oriented I was. That’s it – the only culprit could be stress. But seriously, everyone is stressed and in that case, everyone would be sick. The noise in my mind was deafening – for every justification there was a counter justification. I. Just. Wanted. To. Know.
Sitting in the doctor’s chair in his cold, clinical air conditioned office, I waited to be meted out my fate. He looked at me with a deadpan expression and told me the news that every person dreads to hear. “Your mass on your kidney looks very much like it could be a tumour, due to its vascularity, size …my mind just shut off – no, this is seriously not happening. This was never part of the plan. This was not part of MY plan. How dare he?!
But then my mind – as deft as it was with introducing the tumultuous turmoil talk – suddenly changed tact. I was reminded of a quote that went “What if I fall? Oh, but my darling… what if you fly?” Of course, I could sit here and be bitter, inconsolable and provide ever more fuel to the burning fire within me. But, I also had the power to accept what was and to handle the challenge head on. I know my story… and this is NOT how it ends. It’s a chapter in my book that needed slight re-editing, but it was part of my story nonetheless. Instead of asking: “Why me?” my thought process switched to: “Why not me?”
For the religiously or spiritually inclined, there’s a commonplace notion that God or the powers that be will never hand out anything that one cannot handle. This was just the same. A little short term pain for long term gain – I could do this. And with that, my surgery was scheduled and within three weeks, on the 29 June 2013, I was one kidney down but with a heart full of gratitude that quite simply transcended all the pain, the Central Line’s and the Catheterisations I endured.
Most individuals tend to handle illness as simply that – an ill. A begrudging event in life that is an inconvenience or a cheat or something that precludes being well. Through my journey, I have learnt that the diagnosis of illness is a reminder that we are not invincible. This may be construed in a negative light, but I tend to see it as a gift.
We are all too busy hurtling through life at a speed of knots, wanting the next big pay cheque, the next season’s outfit, the most ultimate of experiences. These are all accompaniments to us as individuals, but do they matter in the greater scheme of things? No. How about focusing on the financial benefit of health, the personal satisfaction gained in being your best you – not by being adorned in the latest outfit, but by being adorned in the skin you’re in, in the magnificent instrument that you have been given … your body. In giving yourself the ultimate life experience – of being able to see another year, of being blissful, at peace, and wholly accepting of what life is making you experience. Seeing the beauty in an apparent negative space affords a paradigm shift that surpasses all awakenings one could hope for. The gift of life and being fully mindful and present to receive it, is, in itself, one of the fundamental keys that will open the door on a journey to wellness.
Through my post-operative diagnosis of Stage 1 Renal Cell Carcinoma (kidney cancer in layman’s terms), I have taken a more active interest in myself, in what I choose to ingest – from basics, like the food that I eat, to people’s energy that I find myself present in. I have been imbued with a sense of consciousness that has been borne out of ignorance and neglect. I have a new found personal respect for myself where an unconscious disrespect used to manifest. I have a love for my life, despite all trivialities, technicalities and trials I have undergone. All of these collectively add up to a sense of personal self-actualization – albeit for this present period in my life – that sets the scene for subsequent opportunities to self-actualise.
We are constantly evolving individuals, privy to the experiences, challenges and triumphant accomplishments that life has in store for ourselves. We need to be receptive to all that crosses our paths – the good, the bad, the happy, and the sad. We need to change our cants into cans and our maybes into plans.
One of the most empowering lessons that I learnt through this life experience is that you and you alone have the power to let your mind succumb to the negativity. You can fuel your own fire. You can hasten the progression of an illness or you can apply your will, mettle and grit and personally either push aside or hurdle over the obstacles that are presented to you. My hope is that you always choose positivity. Choose life. Choose an edit to your story. Choose challenges with grace. Choose difficulties with openness. Choose the good times. Choose love. Choose wisdom. Choose a journey to be proud of, whatever the outcome.
29 June 2013 – the day my life changed. The day I chose to begin my life anew. And, dear fellow blog reader, the choice you have full authority over to make those positive, lasting changes in your life too.
Do you know of anyone who overcame a disease? Perhaps you, yourself have gone through something similar? I would as always love to hear from you.