School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

Back to contents

Issue: October Newsletter
Diagnosis Cancer

By Jens Liedtke
Some of you may have heard during the Long Dance, or the webinar, that I am going through a challenging time. Well, that is a nice paraphrase of “Jens might die and we will miss him.” To be clear, I am still living and I am very healthy. Today I am looking back onto six really challenging months and I would like to share a bit about this.

It is interesting how people react when they hear my diagnosis. Often there is something like “call me when you need help.” Well, when you are in this kind of situation it is nearly impossible to call anybody. What is needed is sympathy, kindness, and people who are curious, again and again, about how you are doing. People’s reactions to my condition is one of the reasons why I write this article: to raise questions such as how do we deal with people who have cancer? I think there is a lot of uncertainty and fear. How do we react when we see a woman with a bald head? What is my own fear? What is my relationship to death? Am I prepared and can I leave this body, or are there things left to do, for example, do I have to apologise for something, or set something right?

My own story with cancer started at the end of April this year, when I had one of these routine appointments with my urologist to check my prostate. It was a bit strange because I left thinking everything is OK, but a few hours later, he called me, telling me that there is something wrong and that he has to do another blood test. Well, that was on a Friday, just before the weekend, time enough to get all the pictures into my mind of my father and his problems with prostate cancer, with incontinence and impotence. I am 60 and these are not the things I want to be thinking about. After a few days it was clear, my cancer marker was so high that the measuring instrument of my doc was not able to measure it. 0 to 4 is OK, 10 is really bad, I had 330. Two weeks and a couple of tests later it was clear, impotence is the least of my problems. I have metastasis in a lot of my bones. The cancer is incurable and I don’t know, how much time is left for me.

When I got this diagnosis it felt like my blood was leaving my body. But I am a warrior and so I changed into surviving mode, which meant organising things like finding a mental healer, calling my TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) healer, finding the right oncologist, cutting my hair in advance, and informing Ya’Acov today because he is arriving for a workshop tomorrow. He should have enough time to digest this information. This was the first time that I am not the organizer while he is in Hamburg. I was just a helper, organising the sound system. A really strange situation, and I was unable to feel that I am seriously shocked. On Sunday I had a long talk with Ya’Acov. Unfortunately it was not the kind of “everything is going to be okay” talk. It was more like the “face the facts my dear” talk.

After that I spoke with many different doctors. When they saw my tumour marker and that it went up this high within two years, they looked at me as if I was a zombie, dead and still walking around. There was nothing to lift the mood.

In the mean time, I had found a healer and have had a wonderful session with her. I also had my first date with my TCM healer. She also works in a hospital with women who have cancer and can support me with her incredible knowledge. She recommended two books. These two books changed a lot for me. They brought the shift from being a victim to “maybe I can do something to live a bit longer“. This was the beginning of changing all the things in my life that wanted to be changed. That meant, I had to change my habits, my thinking and my nutrition. Well, that’s what I did the last 20 years and sometimes I am really angry that I got this diagnosis anyway. But learning about food and that it can support me, was really interesting.

Even if you don’t have cancer, read the Anticancer Book (Das Antikrebs Buch) This is a must because it offers you a different view. The second book is called “Foods that Fight Cancer: Preventing Cancer Through Diet” (Krebszellen mögen keine Himbeeren). This is a book where you find the foods you like, and where you learn how e. g. green tea, curcuma, vegetables and fruits can support your health.

Some people say they fight cancer, or they defeated cancer. Well, that’s not my point of view. I had a clear picture of a very dangerous dragon standing in front of me, the kind that is clearly impossible to kill. My viewpoint is more like “what do you need to go back into your cave. What do I have to change?” My opinion is that everybody has this sleeping dragon. So don’t wake him up, I tell you, it’s not fun.

Four weeks after my first diagnosis my therapy was clear. I started to take anti-hormones. Many years ago the normal therapy was to castrate a man. Today the anti-hormones have the same affect without loosing the balls. At the same time I started a chemotherapy. Six sessions with three weeks recovery between each session. After the first session my immune system collapsed and I got a serious pneumonia. The short version: two weeks in hospital, a lot of antibiotics (call me the antibiotics tester), a lot of very painful side affects, and for a period of nine weeks I was too weak to receive the next chemotherapy. The good thing was, the tumour marker was falling in these nine weeks from 330 to 3.3, after just one session. The rising and the falling of the tumour marker in this way is very unusual.

During the pneumonia, there was one day where I thought “well, the pneumonia is so special and I am not getting better, it must have been made just for me.” After more than 20 years on my spiritual path, it was clear to me what to do. I called some healers to help me and did a lot of work with them within three days. At the end I had a feeling of “I am loved.” Very simple, but it changed so much in me that I cried for another three days. This was the beginning of the end of my pneumonia.

Four weeks later it felt like my lungs were OK, but I was too weak even for a short walk. I had lost all my muscles strength. So it was time for some discipline. Since then I have been walking every day through the forest, increasing the distance. Meanwhile I am stronger than before the chemotherapy and all side affects are gone. I am very glad that I have found this point some weeks ago, the point between resting, waiting for better health and going into action. Now there is one chemotherapy session left.

Today, all this feels like a long painful transition ritual. A time where I had to be a part of the flow in the river of life, without resistance, but with a lot of surrender, and with sometimes stating clearly what I want. I am sure that there is a higher purpose. And even if I die, in these past months, I have carved out more of the one I really want to be.

All my spiritual work did not prevent me from getting this diagnosis. But, to get through this time, it was very helpful to have had the experience of 20 years of dancing, a lot of rituals like digging my own grave, having a burial ceremony and talking to death, working with my ancestors, practises of shamanism and nearly 30 years of Taiji (Tai Chi).

Also, this journey was only possible with the support and the sympathy of so many people: People who called me because they wanted to know how I am and just being curious. People who prayed for a good outcome. Thank you all so much.

I am really curious to know the purpose of this experience and what the future brings. Is there a future? Am I able to care for my self and my body? Maybe it is just a preparation for the next incarnation.

Finally, I would like to thank all my teachers for preparing me for and supporting me during this journey.


Back to contents

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.