The doctors bright blue eyes were weary with the truth of what she knew, and still, she listened patiently. We finished our story and she shook her head. She pointed at Dylans lip and said, “I’m sorry, but regardless what your skin specialist said, or the biopsy, this is advanced stage oral cancer and should be removed immediately.” She moved to Dylan’s side and probed beneath his jawline and throat for evidence of more cancer. “It’s grown to a stage where we worry about metastasis into his lymph system. We will need another biopsy but it will be just a formality.”
Fear rose up sticking like a raw blister in my throat. I recalled the year before when the cancer specialist assured Dylan again and again, telling him he had nothing to worry about. After his biopsy, he’d returned again on two separate visits to complain of the sore that wouldn’t heal on his lip. I wanted to hurt that man. The year had already been the most difficult of our twenty-six-year marriage. Dylan had struggled to find a permanent chef position and had spent the year underemployed. We were blessed to have savings to help get us through, but our reserves were running low. Now this. Cancer. No job, no insurance. Oh boy.
Over the next several weeks we raced to find doctors who accepted uninsured patients, see surgeons, get opinions, consult radiation specialists, have a PET scan, and, of course, swallow fear. Oh, and apply for state sponsored insurance. No small feat. Piles of paperwork, endless documentation, multiple phone calls, and hope that we were accepted immediately because Dylan’s cancer was too advanced to wait the normal six-week period.
Insurance came through in record time. His oncology radiation specialist, Dr. Mutiyala, the only doctor in Arizona who performed a procedure of, brachytherapy, made an exception and took the state medical plan. Dylan began intense radiation in three weeks after diagnosis. There were other miraculous things that happened during an arguably crappy year. Dylan received a session with the remarkable healer, Jerry Wills, who truly turned the tide for him, but that is another story that deserves its own page. Multiple friends and family members who came forward and gave of their hearts. They offered love, support, financial help, and opened their homes because we would need a temporary place to land soon. It had been a one, two punch. After more than a year of underemployment and cancer, we were financially tapped out.
During the year of struggle, I released my third book, Habits That Heal. It’s about fear and anxiety that comes from fearful thinking. Funny, right?! It was like all things in my life, synchronistic. I won’t say I didn’t have my moments of fear because I did. I know fear. In fact, we are longtime acquaintances. I feared Dylan’s cancer, financial ruin, and an unknown future. But, they were moments. These are the times when fear and anxiety have the most power. When something unexpected occurs and we anticipate negative outcomes. Clients tell me, “I can’t stop thinking negative things. What if this or that happens? What will I do then?” I don’t disagree that life sometimes serves up scary events that leave us wondering, “what’s next?” We can overcome anxiety that springs from our fear. I did not become lost in the sickening anxiety and dread. During the nights when fearful thoughts began their march, I told myself, “I am safe. I trust in the flow of life.” Those mantras led me back to sleep.
I share this with you because fear has only the power we give it. In a week, Dylan will have another PET scan that I know will show no cancer and if I’m wrong, we will deal with it together. In ten days, we will move in with my little sister until we get on our feet. I know we will. We have received multiple blessings throughout our ordeal and have so much to be grateful for. Join me in 2017 with a commitment to embrace gratitude and release fear. We will do it together.