Breast Cancer: Hanging on by a Red Thread
On getting well again
Five life changes or stress 3-18 months before the disease appeared:
- Taking responsibility with Barry for the Isle of Avalon Foundation for it continuing.
- Feeling that I will fight patriarchy even if I’m the only one on the planet who will.
- The attack by that woman in the street.
- Attacks by others passed on to me by her and by Bill shouting at me in the information office.
- The report from Bill attacking me – being made a scapegoat. All that work and again no recognition. (Did I do all that work for service or to get recognition? To get approval?)
Five greatest stresses now:
- Fear of being killed by cancer.
- Fear of losing my hair through chemotherapy.
- Fear of being ill from chemotherapy.
- Lack of money for the next few months.
How I may be participating in maintaining stress:
- Continually thinking about the stresses.
- Resisting what will help heal me.
- Not moving towards what is good for me.
How to remove stress:
- Face my fear of dying – get information, change diet, etc., to improve health.
- Accept loss of hair – ask for help.
- Create positive images about chemotherapy.
- Ask my mother for financial help.
Needs being met by the illness:
- Time to myself – to read, do nothing, be, walk.
- Love – receiving love, feeling love from many people.
- Being able to ask for and receive help.
- Being able to express emotions openly.
- Being released from blame and other’s expectations.
- I’m supposed to be able to function, no matter what.
- People didn’t love me before.
- I must appear good and perfect.
- I must keep working for others rather than myself (the good old monk).
- I deserve blame (shocking!)
Monday 16th October
Saturday and Sunday Mike and I went to Wales. We found a lovely little cottage, a converted barn with a balcony where the bed was, to stay in at Cilycwm. We walked up the hill behind the farm up onto the top of the moorland. It was a long strenuous walk that puffed me out but it felt good. I didn’t sleep too well and on Sunday we went to see the river and the nature reserve up past Rhandirmwyn. The river there is wonderful, churning and spuming as it races down the narrow gully and there are many nature spirits in the wild land. It’s such an invigorating spot.
We drove across to the other side of the river and went to Junction Pool where the two rivers meet and the huge Ajna rock in the landscape temple sits between them. Mike jumped across a chasm of water where the river funnels between the rocks to get to the Ajna rock. I didn’t feel I could jump the chasm without falling in so I waded across the river in my wellies further upstream. We sat for long time on the huge red rock. It’s very good there. On the way back I took my wellies off and put my feet in the water. It wasn’t too cold and felt good.
It’s such a beautiful valley. I’d like to have retreat centre there with Mike one day. Facing death I am free to vision whatever I please. Inhibitions go. Why limit myself. I have nothing to lose.
Wednesday 18th October
I asked my mother if she could give me some money to help over the next few months when I won’t be able to earn any money. It’s hard enough for Mike having to do most of the work for me and the children, as well as having to having to earn all the money. She was wonderful and said it would be her pleasure, what else is money for? She has a very good attitude to money particularly at times such as this. She will send me a cheque each month for a few months that will help pay for the mortgage, my acupuncture and Chinese herbs, and anything else that I need. It is a great load off my mind.
Andrea gave me Cadmium sulphate and homeopathic Cancer to take. I visualise my white blood cells like big comic strip cube weights landing splat on the cancer cells and killing them. I’m not very consistent in my visualisations. They are a rather random event, but I do it when the images come into my mind.
Pauline came over in the evening and said that if I shaved my head, she would shave hers too, with me. How amazing!
Friday 20th October
The White Lady is on the levels this morning – beautiful mist under a pale blue sky and golden sun. I had a good session with Phil about dealing with fear. I want all my fear to be gone, dead, killed. It is a monster that bites others and bites me in the solar plexus and I want it gone from my life. I visualised my left hand as the monstrous fear and my right hand was me. The left hand squirmed and twisted with fear. Then the right hand began touching the left slowly and caressing it, caring and loving the fear away. It felt good. I have been afraid for so long.
Edwene has come to Glastonbury this week with her group. Yesterday I took them on a Goddess guided walk up around Chalice Hill and to the Tor, the White Spring and Chalice Well. Then I did a Goddess workshop and visualisation in the afternoon for them. It’s great to be doing something creative again, to feel that I can still do something for the Goddess.
Do the things that you love to do and leave the rest for others, Pauline said.
Thursday 26th October
I feel like I’ve been hit with a sledgehammer. At first it seemed easy. We went to Musgrove Park hospital in Taunton in the morning. I had a blood test and then we did a short relaxation and I had a foot massage. There were two older women there who had been having chemo, one for five months and another for six months. They seemed alright. In the visualisation I went into my beautiful garden which was filled with flowers and lawns and a statue of the Goddess with a tall hedge behind her. Then I thought it was like the Temple garden where the Minotaur lives, but I didn’t want to see him in his shadow form now in this garden. He then appeared to one side as the gardener with his blond hair. He was very gentle and very strong. That felt good.
Then we went into another room where the doctor came in with two huge syringes, one filled with a clear, white liquid, cyclophosphamide, the other with red adriamycin – white and red, the alchemical colours. It made me smile. This is an alchemical process and it’s happening inside of me. This is the mingling of the red and white, the coniunctio oppositorum. She put the two drugs into a tube in the back of my hand – and then an anti nausea drug. From the fact sheets they’ve given me they both sound highly toxic and can occasionally do you long term damage. I hope not for me.
It felt OK and we came home. My pee went bright red. I started to clean the house, then Kay came over and took me over to her house for some healing. I began to feel a bit ill and spaced out and from then on it was downhill all the way until about 8pm when I felt really low, then it evened out and later I went to sleep. My brain was still active though my body was wiped out. I didn’t feel sick or nauseous. I woke in the night and couldn’t get back to sleep, my mind raced. Then later I dropped off. Now its morning and I feel low and tired and ill but OK.
Mike has given me a lovely print of The Magic Circle by John Waterhouse. A woman is drawing a circle in the sand around a cauldron on a fire. Smoke rises from the conjuration. Outside the circle are crows – ravens – Morgens. For me she is Morgen la Fey and my body is the cauldron in which the magical red and white are blending and transforming. I shall never be the same again.
I visualise the red adriamycin washing through and into the cancer cells killing them, then the white sharks come along and eat the dead cancer cells and take them away.
Monday 30th October
This has been a terrible five days. I don’t know if I will be able to cope with this four times over. Its so horrible. I feel absolutely felled by poison. Now my stomach hurts and I have diarrhoea. For days I have felt flattened, constipated, poisoned and feverish. My poor body is in the athenor, the furnace which holds the alchemical vessel. The contents are being heated up together over and over. How can I endure this? Yesterday I ate a throat sweet to try and change the taste in my mouth and my tongue went bright green. Everything tastes flat, metallic, disgusting. Yuck!
What is the rhyme or reason for this?
Why is it happening to me?
Thursday 2nd November
Six buzzards are flying up outside of my window. They look wonderful. The light today is very bright and beautiful.
Friday 10th November
My hair has begun to fall out. So it is going to happen after all. It’s amazing how they can predict exactly when it’s going to happen. Just running my fingers through my hair and out it comes in great handfuls. It is really weird.
Monday 13th November
Yesterday we held an amazing death and rebirth ceremony for me in the Miracles Room with lots of good friends – Diana, Lorye, Pauline, Chris M, Lydia, Oshia, Viv, Sue B, Sue P, Stella, Aye, Chris C, Chris H, Jaana, Elizabeth, Kevin, Tyna, Pauline, Barry, Mike, Jonathan, Jo, Jon, Andrea, Lilli, Nicholas, Indu, Moya and some more whose names escape me.
Before Mike and I got to the Miracles Room I felt very nervous but once the ceremony was happening I was no longer afraid. First as I sat in Mike’s arms everyone shared memories of how they had met and known the old Kathy and I felt very fond of her and was amazed at the variety of experiences she had had with so many people over such a long time. It was wonderful to listen to everything everyone said. In particular it was lovely to hear the memories of other mothers – Aye, Andrea and Stella, of times we had together with our children when they were small. That was really lovely. And to hear many people’s memories of the intensity of being in the Ariadne plays.
Then we began the death part symbolised by shaving my head. The most amazing thing was that Pauline and Chris Makepeace had their heads shaved too, with me, so I would not be alone. It was so incredible that they would do that for me. I don’t know if I could do that for someone else. We began with each person coming up and gently pulling some hair out of my scalp. It came out easily. Then Elizabeth began to shave the rest of it. Pauline and Chris were shaved at the same time by Aye, and Chris and Nick, until there were the three of us, bald. I know it wasn’t easy for Pauline to shave her head when there was no physical need to do so, only for her a psychic one. Chris shaved off his very long hair that he’s had for years. Just amazing! They have both got themselves sponsored to shave their heads and will donate the money to a cancer charity.
Then I was reborn walking between my friends and stepping into a bowl full of Chalice Well and White Spring water and rose petals. I put all my hair into a box like a mini coffin and will bury it in the ground somewhere.
It was so liberating to have my head shaved and now it is bare and it feels wonderful. I look like a conehead. The Tibetan in me is revealed for all to see. I feel like the monk I once was in a previous incarnation. If death is like this I will die happy. I realise that although I have a fear of dying I will walk into the moment of death with an excited heart. All it takes is to let go and turn and look into the future face on instead of trying to run away from it, which is pointless anyway, because it is going to happen one day.
This morning Iona is afraid to see me without hair. She says she never wants to see my bald head, ever! So I will cover my head for her. Torky doesn’t seem to mind. We will go slowly.
All the puppies have gone at last to good homes and it’s great there is no more piss and shit to clear up every day. We made some money selling them which covered the costs of feeding and vaccinating them, plus a little bit more. I now understand why people breed dogs. The money is very helpful at the moment. Being ill is such an expensive business. I hope Smudger can have some more puppies next year when I can really enjoy them.
I had a dream of cancer as a yellow substance like cinder toffee. I got the sharks to eat it. (Later I asked Dr Whipp what colour breast cancer cells are and she told me they are yellow.)
Wednesday 29th November
I dreamed this morning that a bomb which was attached to a pipe in my house had been disarmed. It was no longer going to explode. There was a plaque there to commemorate the fact it had been there but it was no longer dangerous! Fantastic! The cancer must be dead.
I’m feeling good, better than last time. I’ve got more energy. There is a white line across the bottoms of all my nails. The chemotherapy kills all newly growing cells, including the nails and I will get a white line after each dose.
I’ve bought four great hats and I have found I’m a dab hand at winding colourful scarves round my head something I thought I would never be able to do.
Friday 8th December
I had the third lot of chemo on Wednesday. After we left the hospital and before I started feeling ill, we went shopping in Taunton and I bought a lovely red coat for a treat. I am wearing lots of red at the moment. It gives me energy. I now have red trousers, red cardigan, red hat and now my red coat – rubedo! We went home before the dreadful feeling came on.
I feel disgusting today. Alison gave me a good healing session this morning. She is amazing. She just turned up out of the blue. I think Jaana asked her to call when she went away, and each time after the chemo she comes and gives me healing. Elizabeth came in the afternoon and gave me a massage. Her hands are strong and she works deeply pushing out the toxins. As she massaged my chest out came a cry from deep inside, What have I done to deserve this?
I don’t know. I have done nothing that bad in this life. Sadness came pouring out of my body with tears.
Late yesterday I listened to a tape of Paul Weston talking about his Nazi incarnation and his redemption in Avalon through Jesus. As Elizabeth massaged me an image came into my mind of shaved heads – naked bodies lying in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. An image of myself shaven headed, lying in a pile of bodies. Then of the shaven heads of women collaborators in France – those who had slept with the enemy, who had betrayed. Breast cancer they say, is about lack of self love. The reason I wouldn’t love myself is because I feel I don’t deserve to be loved. Why would I feel that? Because in some way I have betrayed the love of others? I felt a great sadness. Whatever I did I’m sorry. I’m sorry if I betrayed you. I’m sorry for all that I have done to harm others in my life and in all my other lives. I’m sorry if I hurt you. I’m sorry.
Then after a while came a wonderful feeling of self-forgiveness. I forgive myself for the hurt I have caused to others. I cried and cried.
Saturday 10th February
I’m feeling a bit tired today but on the whole I’m feeling very good. The Goddess Conference is a real inspiration. I wonder how far ahead I can plan for other projects. Next year for my 50th birthday we were planning before I got ill, to go to Mount Kailash in eastern Tibet. The other night we watched this great film about Kailash without words, just music. It looks very beautiful, changing shape as you walk around it. Sublime, beautiful, shaped like a gigantic phallic tip. I have a feeling I may not have the physical strength to make this journey next year, if ever. I do not know how far I will be able to stretch myself when this is over. Until now I have taken my physical body for granted, but no longer. The last four days here it has snowed and is all white and bright. I took lots of photos and some video.
I’m reading Grace and Grit by Ken Wilbur about his wife having breast cancer and eventually dying from it. It’s good on all the thoughts that go through your mind, back and forth – why it’s happening, the fears and the realisations. Love is.
I’m now having hot flashes nearly all the time. The chemicals have done my ovaries in, although they may recover. At night I wake several times between 2 and 6am first very cold and then suddenly hot and sweating. I’m in instant menopause and can’t take any oestrogen to balance it out because that’s what breast cancer feeds on. Men have such an easy time of it physically. They’re really lucky.
I’m a bit sore in the ribs below my right breast. I hope it’s just repairing itself and is nothing meaningful. Can the cancer have moved out of my breast down into the chest wall? My nails are breaking as the dead parts reach the ends of my fingers. My hair is just beginning to grow again. I must continue to strengthen my immune system. I still take all the vitamins and minerals, the Essiac and am taking Chinese herbs to recover from the chemotherapy and prepare for the radiotherapy. My poor body is having such a hammering.
Before I got cancer I always assumed that my body was strong and could take anything I did to it. I could always push it if I needed to and it would respond. I’ve always had a lot of energy. Now I have to come to terms with the limitations of my physical condition. I understand how amazing the body is. It is a temple in which the spirit lives and we are lucky if we are healthy. Without health we can do little.
Another realisation – I always believed that there was a direct positive relationship between spiritual energy and the health of the body – that when the soul’s energy was flowing unimpeded into and through the body you were healthy. If you were ill you were on some level, usually unconscious, blocking your soul energy coming into expression. That gave me a rather moralistic view of illness – you are doing something wrong if you are ill. A bit of blame the victim. But I have now had some of my most spiritual experiences when my body has been physically almost destroyed. So the relationship is there between the soul and disease but it’s not necessarily direct, sometimes its reciprocal. It’s more like disease is created by the soul to push us beyond our current limits and is itself part of a deeper healing process. Disease is itself a form of healing if we can recognise it.
Tuesday 17th December 1996
Mike and I drove to Bristol this morning. Yesterday I got very frightened. Having removed it from my thoughts all during the play I felt scared. What if the cancer has returned? We got to the hospital late with nowhere to park the car. I went into the small room and the nice Mr Halliwell was there, no nurses, just machines. I lay down and he put cold gel on my breast. The first thing he said was, That’s good, there’s no blood flow. First feeling of relief – if it’s cancer there is blood flowing. He went over the whole breast. There was the dark mark, the shadow cast by something small, less than 4/10cm. It could be scar tissue from the operation. I think it is. It felt wonderful. It isn’t cancer.
He sent both of us away joyful. We had both been feeling afraid. Mike had been anxious for several weeks but I had decided to enjoy life anyway and had a great time doing the play. It was the first time we had been to a hospital in eighteen months and had good news. Every other time we had been there had been bad news or some horrid treatment. It was wonderful.
I suppose this is how it will be for the next few years, going for check ups, every so often having an alarm call. The message is clear stay awake, remember, do not forgot all you have experienced and learned.
Wednesday 4th March 1998
I am still alive and feeling healthy. In the last few months I have had the all clear from Mr Halliwell – the black spot in my breast has completely disappeared; from Dr Whipp; and a couple of weeks ago an all clear mammogram. Everything is OK for now.
It is two and a half years since this experience began and I have learned so much that I probably could not have learned in any other way. It has been so terrible and yet so amazing. On that Tor Labrynth walk at Lammas in 1995 when I asked the Goddess for transformation, I had no idea what I was asking for. I did not know that transformation could go so deep. Her ways are full of mystery and the path to wisdom is veiled in allegory.
I have learned so many things. I know now that we are truly One and there is no separation between you and me, between me and you. I know that we can harm each other by our thoughts as well as our actions and we can also help heal each other. I would not be alive now without the love and care of my beloved Michael, Iona and Torky, and the love and care of at least 200 other friends. I love many people and I know that love is the most important thing in life no matter how much we disagree and argue about the details of living.
I have learned about forgiveness. I have learnt to forgive others for the hurts they cause me, rather than holding onto pain, and to ask forgiveness for the hurts I cause to others. Perhaps most importantly I have forgiven myself for hurting other people, for making mistakes, for doing it wrong, because I was always my own worst critic and judge. I have learned to love myself.
I have remembered and experienced the power of healing. I worked for many years as a healer, then lost faith in it all when healing failed to cure my newborn baby, Iona, of her near fatal illness. She had a life-saving operation at six weeks and was completely restored to health, but I had lost my simplistic belief that healing could cure everything. I also lost the belief that it could cure anything at all. I stopped working as a healer. Having cancer I have realised that in one sense all disease is itself a form of healing. It is the soul’s attempt to awaken us to an inner imbalance, forcing us to expand our limited horizons and consciousness. I believe in the power of healing once again, not to cure everything – doctors and nurses are great on the nuts and bolts of disease and at saving lives, but to restore wholeness to broken human beings. Over the last six months as well as writing this book I have also been finishing a book on Soul Healing which I first began writing nearly twenty years ago. I have begun to teach a certificated course on Esoteric Healing for the Isle of Avalon Foundation and I am also beginning to run healing workshops for cancer sufferers and their supporters. Kevin Redpath and I have created a moving multimedia performance about the experience of cancer with wonderful music and glorious slide images.
I know now that one day I will die, hopefully later rather than sooner, and I am no longer so afraid of dying. I look forward to it as part of my soul’s journey. I do not claim to have found the Philosopher’s Stone, to be able to change base metal into gold, but I have learned of Sophia and the Wisdom of Her ways. As I journeyed through the cancer Labrynth I clung onto Ariadne’s Red Thread following it into the centre where I faced the Minotaur in his lair. I saw him and myself transform and have returned to tell the tale.
I know that the Goddess loves me as She loves each one of us, accepting us completely just as we are. She is the starlight fire by night and the white mist at daybreak. She is nature in all her glory. She is the way and the goal. Her voice calls softly on the wind to each one of us,
Have faith in me. I am always with you. I will never leave you. Speak to me often.
Throughout the ages you have called my name Wisdom,
Veiled yet glorious to behold,
None shall see my face who has not rent the veil to immortality.
l am in you and of you.
Before the world was made, I was.
When you are no more, I shall be.
Let it be known – today, the Eternal Feminine Sophia
In an incorruptible body is emerging into the world,
In the unfading light of a new goddess never seen before.
Heaven shall be one with the deep,
The songs of the wise shall be sung around the earth,
For I am Wisdom and I am come among you.
From AND THEY CALL HER NAME WISDOM