,Dear friends and followers,
I know it has been quite some time since you've heard from me. For this, I sincerely apologize. Since receiving the news that my cancer has metastasized, I have been taking some time to digest this, and reflect on what it means to my life. I have also been busy living, enjoying, traveling to NYC for my clinical trial, spending really great quality time with friends and family, and enriching my life with new books, new wellness habits (I was trained in and am now practicing, and truly loving, transcendental meditation twice daily. Jerry Seinfeld, Oprah, and The Beatles are pretty good examples of how this can help you reach your full potential - so I figured I'd give it a shot.) I've finally given up my steadfast resistance to "reading" books through any other medium than the good old fashioned bound paper method, and am now streaming audio books, TED talks and interesting podcasts through my headphones or through my amazon echo in the house, during every pile of laundry, working out, and other tedious task that I used to dread - but now look forward to because of this added stimulation. It is amazing. I am trying to understand quantum physics, Einstein's prophetic final dream of a Unified Field Theory, String Theory, and how these concepts may be used to influence the behavior of my cells. Mainly in getting the ones with cancer to behave, and getting the ones governed by my immune system to destroy and absorb them for me. Now that I have revealed the full extent of my complete and utter geekiness, I'll move on...
Of course I was devastated to learn of the progression of my illness, and it was difficult to adjust to the fact that I will be in some form of treatment for the rest of my, now potentially quite shortened, life. This will never end for me. I will always "have cancer," I will always be dealing with side effects of treatment and adjusting my life around doctor visits, energy levels, etc. If you have been following along here, you already know that is what it means to have metastatic breast cancer (mbc). There is no cure. That is why I started The Cancer Couch Foundation in the first place.
Basically what I am saying is that I have had to really, and I mean really, face the fact that this is forever. I had hopes of "a cure" before, but now I know that is not going to happen for me. So, I can either mope around, stay fixated on that fact and put a huge damper on the rest of the life I do have left, and negatively impact everyone around me, or - I can "woman-up," put this cancer in its place, which is not at the forefront of my identity or existence, and enhance and enjoy my life and the lives of those I love and all those I meet by truly and fully embracing every moment of the time I have left. I can look for reasons to smile, laugh, and both give and receive gratitude and love as often as I possibly can. I can marginalize negative influences in my life by gravitating toward positive, gracious, funny people. I can decide not to watch the local news which is typically filled with one horror after another and always just makes me feel bad. I can put healthy boundaries on how and where I spend my limited time and energy - even with my children (who - if you are a parent you know - will suck the life right out of you if you let them). I can do every reasonable thing in my power, albeit limited, to promote wellness in my mind and body. Then, I can feel at peace with the knowledge that what is happening, and is going to happen, is all part of a master plan that is far, far beyond what I am meant to understand right now, but not beyond what I am meant to accept right now. In surrendering to that understanding, I have not only found peace, I have achieved freedom. If I really and truly believe that there are forces in the Universe beyond me, that have a master plan that I somehow fit into, well then - what on earth (literally) would I have to worry or complain about?
Also, there is the great news that the clinical trial I am in is WORKING! My scans show decreased cancer in almost all areas, stable in others, and my tumor markers are within normal limits! I also received the incredible honor of being selected for the Cowgirls vs Cancer 2018 big sky yoga retreat! I will be joining my fellow cancer cowgirls and heading to Montana this May for some great food, beautiful scenery, yoga, and horseback riding. Ahhhh. Yeehaw and namaste! bigskyyogaretreats.com/scholarship-winners
With this newfound freedom and all of this good news, comes a sense of fearlessness and peace that I am relishing. I am willing to take risks and live life with curiosity, extreme gratitude, and a blissful sense of wonder that actually feels, oddly, both childlike and ancient at the same time. I am moving forward in writing my book, a memoir about my journey, which has been a huge goal of mine. I enjoy every moment of writing and it has been cathartic for me to process and express the trauma, loss, and fear that cancer brings, along with the gratitude and bliss that I have now gained.
I am going out of my comfort zone in connecting with strangers in ways I wouldn't have normally done. I am seeing myself as less and less separate, and more and more a part of the whole, of everything. This has been humbling, as it forces my ego to diminish appropriately in this knowledge, and also enriching as these connections are so surprising and often delightful. My previous, ego-fed, need to control and manufacture every detail of my days, has been thankfully replaced with an ability to settle back a bit and let life unfold before me as if I am watching a movie and I can not wait to see what is going to happen next! I stopped judging things and people as "bad" or "good." Really - who the hell am I to judge or say?
As a result of this newish outlook, life has become so much richer and more fascinating. I notice more. Everything is slowed down and often heartbreakingly beautiful. I walk to and from Grand Central Terminal to Memorial Sloan Kettering - my cancer center, about once a week now. Yesterday, while walking in the rain, I saw a dog with coral colored rain boots on, an ATM for cupcakes, and overheard 12 different languages being spoken! Amazing. Life. Is. Amazing. A cupcake ATM! I mean really? I can't even. I mean I literally can't even, my jeans are maxed out - but I love the concept!
Now that I am noticing all these beautiful new details of life around me, I am also finding so many more things to be hysterically funny. I started writing things down - observations, jokes, thoughts - anything that made me laugh. I then thought about how much I love speaking to audiences, as I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to do this through my role with The Cancer Couch. I don't really feel nervous and almost nothing makes me happier than bringing joy to people through laughter during one of my talks. SO...wait for it... I have decided to try my hand at stand up comedy!
I will be performing at The Fairfield Comedy Club in Fairfield, CT on February 17, 2018 at 7pm! All are welcome - but please buy tickets soon if you'd like to come because I have a feeling it may sell out. There are some amazing, actual award winning comedians like Carmen Lynch, performing that night as well. I'm just the "make a wish" act. :) You can purchase tickets through the link below and use the promo code Rebecca to get a discount. Then, bring your ticket to The Aspetuck Brew Lab before the show that night. Their motto is "Good Beer is Elementary," and it is really good beer! I will buy you your first pint to thank you for coming out to support my debut performance! They will put their growlers on sale to fill up and bring to the show. It is BYOB!
Thank you so much for your support and interest in following my story and The Cancer Couch Foundation. Until next time, maybe join me in living life with no regrets. Don't complicate things. Most things are actually usually much more simple than we realize. Just have fun and remember what Simon and Garfunkel said "Hey, all I have to do today is smile." Yeah, I think that's a pretty good place to start.
Psychologist and metastatic breast cancer patient, Rebecca Timlin-Scalera, PhD - offers wit and wisdom from both sides of the sofa...