Should I humour this tumour?
Not many of my friends (and none of my clients) know this… but I have a brain tumour. I say that in the same way that I’d say I’ve got a house guest—and I think of it like that too. It has taken up temporary residence inside my brain while I figure out the purpose of its visit.
I know it’s a messenger, and if I don’t figure out the message within the next 3 months, it will either get evicted by surgery or nuked out of existence. But if it’s a diligent messenger with a mission of guaranteed delivery—a bit like FedEx—then it may well pay me another visit to make sure I get the message. And if my own stubbornness is anything to go by, it probably won’t quit till its job is done.
So I’m looking at the options: with surgery, I’d be left with a trapdoor in my skull after the surgeon saws through my tough noggin to reach the intruder—with unknowable consequences; with radiation, I’d be left with a crusty ‘raisin’ that may or may not re-inflate itself to the size of a grape—or maybe even a plum—and possibly in a more aggressive, attention-seeking form.
With those images in mind, I’m quite motivated to crack this on my own and to find a natural solution. It won’t be the first time I’ve had insights from illness, so I recognize the value of digging deeper. And this tumour is prompting me to go deeper than ever before. With my focus on empowerment, I’m also committed to resolving conundrums—and I’ve had many in my own life, pushing me to look at the underlying dynamics. Yet when I started my online research, I was amazed to discover that there were no online stories of anyone curing this kind of tumour (a benign acoustic neuroma) in a natural way. Think about that. There are hundreds of cases of people successfully curing all forms of malignant cancer through natural means—but not one single online report of a natural cure for a benign acoustic neuroma (none that I could find, at least).
Obviously, I’ll have to find my own way. Like many, I explored the conventional approach first and was presented with the limited, invasive options: surgery or radiation. As I sat there, listening to the neurosurgeon explain the pros and cons of either option, I was aware of my growing frustration. The hearing loss on the right side is permanent and irreversible. You may end up with facial paralysis and you may lose movement on the right side of your face. You may not be able to close your eye—but we’ll give you some special weights to put in the eyelid to help with that. With radiation, the tumour may come back and it could be cancerous. With surgery, we can’t say what may be affected but, for sure, your hearing will go and there’s the risk of death. But if you don’t get either surgery or radiation, you’ll die anyway, if the tumour keeps growing at the current rate…
It wasn’t just his lack of compassion that bothered me; after all, it’s probably a good thing for a surgeon to be able to operate fairly robotically, without getting all worked up and emotional (I wouldn’t want him snivelling or sobbing uncontrollably while wielding a scalpel inside my brain). It was the fact that there was absolutely no enquiry into the underlying reason for the tumour occurring in the first place—plus he didn’t listen to what I had to say. He had his spiel, and that was it; the readings from his high-tech equipment overrode what I was feeling. So when I told him that I was starting to experience the same symptoms on the other side of my head, he said the MRI showed nothing on the left side and that I was imagining it.
That prompted me to tell him a little story. For years, I had a stabbing pain in my right eye. I consulted eye specialists in Switzerland and in Canada but they all said the same thing: there’s nothing there. Finally, in desperation, I went to Emergency and was referred to another specialist—a young Asian woman who… wait for it… pulled a piece of metal out of my eye. For seven years, I walked around with that piece of metal in my eye because… well, there was nothing there. (I think all those other ophthalmologists needed to get their eyes tested.)
But I knew where this indifference was designed to take me—and it worked. When I left the neurosurgeon’s office, a healthy dose of self-responsibility had re–asserted itself and I was on a mission. I was going to fix this myself, if it was the last thing I did (and, yes, I did see the irony in that).
This got me thinking about my rights—not just as the host of this unwelcome guest in my headspace, but also as a person who’s supposedly in charge of her own circumstances. That is, after all, what I teach others and what I strive to practise in my own life. So I asked myself what I was entitled to that I wasn’t giving myself. What was I not doing? And it occurred to me that maybe what I was not doing was… not doing. Rather than doing more, I needed to not do certain things. (I needed to cut things out of my life—before the surgeon needed to cut things out of my skull.) I needed more head space. Things were getting too crowded in there. I needed to download some data rather than uploading even more.
So I started doing less, thinking less and just letting things be. I could feel that the tumour was agitated by too much mental activity and I realized it was pushing me to be still. My brain wanted peace. Reflecting on my daily routine, I saw that there was precious little stillness—in body or mind. Yes, I meditated and did some yoga; otherwise, though, I was constantly doing, thinking, moving, analysing, talking, planning, creating and working my mind. With all our techno-gadgets, our brains are constantly over-stimulated. We’re bombarded with e-mails, texts, commercials, traffic and hordes of other equally hyperactive bods; our sensitive electrical systems are constantly assaulted by mobile phones, cordless phones, TV screens in every café, ipods, ipads and wireless networks 24/7. And we wonder why we’re sick or why we can’t sleep, focus, concentrate or keep going for 15 hours every day.
So stillness, ease and peace have become my focus, and things have started to flow. I’ve received gifts of bodywork, hands-on healing, laughter, emotional support, and a session with an amazing alternative healthcare practitioner who has actually cured someone of an acoustic neuroma, using natural means. I’ve started his programme, while maintaining my own regimen of yoga, chi gung, relaxation, sitting in nature and being more creative with food.
The mind still wants to be in charge, of course, and I resisted sharing this information, for fear of being seen as weak or of not practising what I preach in my work. But the wiser part of me knows that most of my wisdom and expertise has come from addressing challenges like this, rather than trying to deny or suppress them.
So watch this space… while I monitor the space inside my head—and hopefully both will soon get filled up with some really good stuff.