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Healing Through Cancer

by SOM Magazine
Side-by-side of Erika Luckett

By Erika Luckett 

She Received the Diagnosis No One Wants to Hear: Cancer. »

By leaning into her faith, Luckett awakened to the perfection in all things — even the most devastating news.

The triage nurse ushered my gurney swiftly into one of the few available emergency room stalls. My partner, Lisa, walked beside me as I was rolled into the small, sterile space. We had just been told I might have only 30 minutes to live.
A month earlier, I was diagnosed with two massive ovarian tumors and innumerable pulmonary embolisms and blood clots. Although ovarian cancer is life threatening, the menacing presence of countless pulmonary embolisms made my prognosis dire. Doctors gave me a 3 percent chance of survival.

Side-by-side of Erika Luckett

Erika Luckett saw the gift in her cancer diagnosis after being given only 30 minutes to live.

Ten days post-surgery, I felt a sharp and unfamiliar pain in my chest. The attending doctor feared one of the pulmonary embolisms had breached the filter implanted in my chest to prevent this from happening. If just one of the many pulmonary embolisms broke through the filter, I would have approximately 30 minutes to live. I was rushed to the emergency room for observation and possible preparation for open-heart surgery. We knew I was too fragile to undergo the procedure, and even if I were stronger, that operation didn’t have a successful track record.
Thirty minutes to live. We never know how we’re going to die, or what we’ll think of as we die, or if we’ll think at all. I had the privilege of glimpsing this unfathomable encounter fully awake. Together, Lisa and I experienced grace and perfection unfolding.
There was little to say. As we looked into each other’s eyes, volumes of emotion and information were exchanged. All the unnecessary, external representations of who I was and what I had attained in life melted beneath the inextinguishable essence of love. Love: the alpha and omega of our being. The first cause and final destination. Immutable and eternal. No fear. Love was the connective force that made sense of the senseless.
During those timeless 30 minutes, my field of perception widened and I saw the inherent perfection of life. Awareness broadened beyond anything I had yet experienced. Every person, every event, every circumstance was an essential thread in the precious web of existence. There was no separation, no enemy, no wrongdoing or right doing. Love was the unifying force field that pulled a lifetime of experiences into a singular kaleidoscopic vision of wholeness and perfection.
As the 30 minutes stretched into an hour, and then into an hour and a half, the surgeon recognized I had moved through the danger zone. There was nothing left but to discharge me.
Lisa and I were back home and it was as though we had returned from outer space. Like an astronaut who first perceives the breathtaking splendor of Earth from afar, we were given an extraordinary perspective on our lives.
My experience of the endpoint, my personal horizon, expanded immeasurably, helping me heal through cancer and ultimately live a more conscious and fulfilling life.

Finding the Perfection in Every Moment

Healing through cancer meant perceiving this health challenge as an inherent part of an intelligent and loving universe. This was an opportunity to evolve beyond my previous understanding of self and become an ever-more transparent embodiment of Spirit.
Because of the prevalence of cancer in our culture, there were plenty of associated story lines. The “war on cancer” was being waged all around me. What I knew from the start was that my body would not be a battleground. To heal, I had to operate from wholeness and find connections instead of perpetuating separation and conflict.
The discovery of cancer in my body was like waking up one morning and finding my basement flooded. As important as pumping out the water and drying the furniture, the unwanted deluge was a symptom of broken pipes. The inconvenience of a water-logged basement revealed something previously unseen that needed mending. This cancer didn’t happen to me. It happened for me.
Rumi says, “Find the antidote in the venom.”
As metaphysicians, we know the Divine is present everywhere, in everything. No exceptions. My healing demanded the capacity to discern the perfection embedded in this experience.

Surrendering to New Understandings

I knew I had to change my thinking. Instead of dealing myself a new hand from the same deck of cards, I had to open up to a whole new game. This demanded a new level of surrender, imagination and creative thought. Surrender meant giving my intellect a break so I could tap into the Infinite Mind/Heart waiting to be accessed. Surrender meant letting go of established mental frameworks so I could reach a new understanding.
Mythology exists throughout all cultures to help humankind navigate through various challenges and better understand itself. I had to develop my own mythology for this healing journey. It happened on every level. Because I couldn’t move or do things I had always done, I consciously had to rebuild the foundation of my life.
As I lay in bed healing, the house across the street was being completely renovated. Hearing the hammers and saws working daily at my neighbor’s home, I imagined that same level of renovation occurring internally — beginning with my consciousness and then filtering into my body.
I imagined my healing was not only for myself but for others as well. I was taking one for the team. The effort invested in healing and transforming my energetic/emotional/genetic patterns rippled out beyond my own physical expression. This deepened my resolve and energized my recovery.
Initially, I resisted the idea of chemotherapy, but once I recognized it as an important modality in rebalancing my body, I reenvisioned the experience as a stream of healing light. My eight-hour chemo infusions became installments of “liquid love.” My baldness offered evidence of renewal and rebirth, not of disease. I alternately saw my shiny pate and lashless eyes like the newness of a baby’s head.
Other times, seeing my hairless profile reminded me of a monk, deeply immersed on a spiritual journey of renewal and transformation. I continually honored my stories even though they differed from mainstream belief. I kept them mostly to myself, protecting their power from the adulteration of outside opinion.
My imagination conjured up metaphors and stories to change my circumstances into opportunities for transformation.

Letting Go to Become Who I Am Meant to Be

I initiated my healing first through imagination and then by enlisting a variety of healing modalities, from traditional allopathic approaches to acupuncture, high-grade nutritional supplements, laughter, music and meditation. An essential counterpart to all of this, however, was releasing the attachment to my former self.
For the caterpillar to transform into a butterfly, it needs to release the old so the new can emerge. Caterpillars and butterflies don’t have an ego to contend with, so it’s an effortless process.
In my humanness, however, I had to be willing to release habits/beliefs/systems that no longer served me. I had to be willing to let go of the shallow shores of my previous life in order to dive into the deep ocean of my being. Expanding my horizons became exciting! I laughed at the thought of being able to reincarnate in a single lifetime and not have to go through seventh grade again!
The willingness to release old thoughts and habits increased my adaptability, my capacity to adjust to new circumstances, to swim in unfamiliar waters. This was not only essential for my healing, but also for my evolution as a human being.
Forgiveness and gratitude were indispensible. Forgiveness released attachment to old wounds, grievances and limiting stories. Forgiveness toward myself and others granted me the freedom to move forward. Gratitude kept me focused on the abundance of good that existed even in the most difficult moments.
When I was in the hospital barely able to move or breathe, I was grateful for the steady beat of my heart, for the fresh air in the room, for the skin on my body, for my fingers, for the stillness of the floor beneath the bed. Hours passed in this powerful meditation. It became a joyful and rewarding process even in my most compromised state. Though my body was severely limited, my mind was agile and free. Focusing on gratitude brought me into communion with the unifying field of love, the underlying substance of life.
Beyond the horizon of ego and personality, beyond desires and fears, beyond relationships, traumas and victories, an infinite love beckons us closer. Because my body was so sick and my physical condition so fragile, I experienced myself in a way that was beyond the physical.
I developed an intimacy with the Divine, a closeness to God I hadn’t yet known. I wasn’t afraid of dying as much as I felt there was more for me to experience and learn in this physical form. I wrote in my journal, “It’s not a battle or a game to be won or lost. Each of us is going to die. The question is simply: How do we live? How do we bring the fullness of our being to every moment? Have we brought more love to those around us? It’s not about errors but about opportunities to adapt and evolve, to grow in awareness and become better human beings. If I have two years or 50 more, my prayer is that I may live each day as fully as possible, love more abundantly and leave the world a better place than I found it.”

The Gift of Chaos

The nature of the universe is to expand and evolve. Shifting seasons, the turn from day to night and back to day, each inhalation and exhalation, is an expression of death and rebirth. In our desire for order and predictability, we often fail to see a greater arc of perfection when confronted by an unexpected change or undesired challenge. Infinite Intelligence is always present, expressing, beckoning our smaller self to rise to greater awareness.
The question is, “How does this grow me? How does this call forth an unexpressed depth, wisdom or love?” Our reluctance to experience change or be open to the unknown can stifle us into numbness, into stagnation, into a brittle reluctance to see beyond the myopia of the familiar.
Challenge, disruption or chaos is often perceived as bad, but it is essential to any evolving system. Chaos is part of a thriving and ever-evolving natural world. As any dynamic system grows, it reaches a tipping point where it moves beyond predictability and becomes chaotic. At that point, it either collapses or reorders at a higher level of complexity and functionality. For any system to change, it must go through a period of chaos.
The exquisite architecture of a snowflake is the result of continual reforming of water molecules, transitioning through periods of change to achieve an evermore complex and beautiful structure. Evolution demands a continual expansion of horizons, our perceived limits.
Challenging periods are our invitation to grow, to reorder at a higher level of expression. It’s part of an eternal process of growth and evolution. As human beings, our evolution is one of consciousness, of developing a keener awareness of purpose and connection to the Divine, and thus to all of life.
Evolution doesn’t eliminate challenges, but as we grow, our relationship to challenge becomes more nuanced. We learn to play. We notice disturbances in patterns and celebrate them as harbingers of growth. The less we resist, the more easily we navigate through unfamiliar territory.
We develop agility, flexibility and openness. We become meaningful participants in life’s ever-expanding expression. We develop new ideas and creative solutions to previously daunting problems. We learn to lean into the substrate of perfection to inspire us with new possibilities.
Surviving a life-threatening disease required me to expand my horizons of possibility and understanding as I steered through turbulent waters. All of us have the opportunity to joyfully step through change as we consciously participate in our evolution.
We are made of Infinite Source, and Infinite Source continues to evolve and express through us. For this and so much more, there is only gratitude.

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