Although I am a graduate of the Shit Happens School of Cause and Effect, when I got my cancer diagnosis, I did exactly what everyone does: I tried to figure out how I got it. I regularly exercise, am in a happy marriage, and eat well. But here are the things that immediately came into my mind:
Too many protein bars! That summer when low-carb was all the rage? I ate chocolate/peanut butter protein bars all day long. I also ate those low-carb fake candy bars that contain artificial sweeteners such as acesulfame potassium and neotame. Frightening to pronounce let alone ingest.
Not enough meditation! I had a good meditation practice going for a while, but, well, things got busy—um, yeah. Maybe meditation would have calmed down any abnormal rapidly dividing cells. Or perhaps the Divine was trying to tell me something, but I wasn’t there to listen.
I should tell you that I use these words interchangeably: God, the Divine, the Universe, the Presence, Mr. Martha Miyagi. I’ll explain that last one. I don’t have a visual for “God.” She/He/It has always been an inner voice for me—a combination of Mr. Miyagi from “The Karate Kid,” and Martha Stewart—before she became a felon.
I figured that Mr. Martha Miyagi said, “Well, cancer ought to slow her down. That will give her time to meditate.” I got very zealous about meditating right then because I was afraid that if I didn’t the Universe would cut off my legs.
Didn’t take a real lunch! I had a bad habit of working through lunch. This was usually because a lot of patients came in between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. If I took lunch then I’d miss them. Then in the late afternoon, I would eat lunch at my desk while charting. This is not considered good self-care. But I thought, What if the patients who don’t see me this week die? It gradually dawned on me that if they did die, it would probably be because of their cancer, not because they didn’t see me.
Fired from my job! Seven years before my diagnosis I was fired for a book I wrote, and I was devastated—much weeping and gnashing of teeth! The stress of that must be what caused it.
So those are all the reasons my mind provided. But I know that I can never trust my mind. So I meditated and went deep within and asked my heart, “What caused my cancer?”
My heart said, “Shit happens.”