School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: March 2013 Newsletter
My Mum

By Suannah
As many of you know, my mother Elizabeth has been ill with ovarian cancer. I want to give you an update of how she is (much better) and to say thank you for all the love and prayers for her (and for me) which have been so generously offered by many of you.

I’ve been blessed with healthy, active parents for many years, so feeling and witnessing Mum in the fragility of being ill has been a new thing for me. And she’s had such grace and wisdom in how she has met this illness. One thing she has been super clear about is that, in her words: “cancer is not the enemy, cancer is not evil, its simply a primitive form of life full of life force, and my body is not a battle ground”. She’s been clear that her preference is to live, but that she and my Dad (Richard) both know, and accept that she, they and we all are in the hands of the mystery.

When she was first ill, she had a beautiful image which has sustained her and inspired me. Elizabeth and Richard are have been part of many inter-faith projects, and have friends from many different religious and spiritual back grounds. Aware that she was being loved and prayed for by people from Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and shamanic backgrounds, she had  the feeling that she was being supported and sustained by a “rainbow hammock”, each thread of the hammock being a different prayer of person’s love. When she was in pain in hospital after her operation, she told me how much difference it made to her to be able to lie back in her rainbow hammock. Recently, for her 72nd birthday, I asked Lua, my god daughter to paint it for her.  She did a great job! Thank you Lua, and thank you to all the people from the Winter Dream Dance who supported me to leave a little early so that I could be there for her birthday. It was beautiful!

Elizabeth’s been tuned into a curiosity and excitement about learning about the medical details of what is happening and her treatment, and has been blessed with a great NHS experience, of doctors who she can feel really care about her as a patient and as a person. She’s chosen the conventional medical route, had one round of chemo over a year ago which gave her a year’s remission. Then, last autumn the cancer blood count went up again, and she was back on the chemo round. But this time, something different happened. Her body reacted with an allergic reaction which at first was gentle and then grew to being so forceful that they had to discontinue the treatment.

She had a few weeks of “holiday from chemo” and then, as she went in for the results of a scan, was asking herself whether she was frightened. She realised that she was actually not frightened, but curious. The results were good. And since then, with no treatment, she’s gone on getting better. She can sing again, only a little, but more each week. She’s just gone in for a small operation to remove the remaining fluid which had gathered round her lungs, and that has gone well and now she can breath even better.

Her doctors are so happy with what is happening, Mum says that if they were able to express their feelings physically, they would be dancing jigs. They do not understand what is happening, but say that she has a window of health, and to ‘go and enjoy it” which she intends to do, whether it is relatively long or relatively short. As she says, quoting the hospice movement “I intend to live until I die!”

The last thing I want to tell you is that a few weeks ago I asked Mum what were the things that she had garnered during her life that she might want to pass on. Having thought a while, she said: “ well, firstly, the body, mind, heart and soul are not separate at all…. They are one thing… and secondly, the story we tell ourselves as human beings makes a huge difference to our sense of identity, possibility and experience.” Wow. Thank you Mama Elizabeth! And thank you all of you who have supported us… I’ll let you know how she goes!

Love to all of us in our fragility and strength, our grace, humanity and mortality,

Susannah DK

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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.