In honor of those touched by cancer, I send my love and my healing energy. And my own experience. Grab a coffee or a beer and share my World Cancer Day story.
Music touches my heart in the deepest way. When all my surfaces are hard and I want to wall everything out, music invigorates my soul and shines that brilliant light right back out.
Songwriters and musicians put here hearts and thoughts out there into The Universe with courage beyond a warrior. Setting into a soundtrack the deepest thoughts of their heart, their pain, their ecstasy, their madness, and life’s questions…all the while holding the intention to share it in the most profound way demands courage and love. I honor that commitment by spreading music wherever I can.
In 2008, The Universe chose to touch me in the most intimate way. I found my first breast lump. 3 lumps, 5 years, 18 MRIs, 13 Mammograms, 6 Biopsies, and 9 procedures later, we closed the shit show with a double mastectomy.
I lived every spectrum of thoughts and feelings. Why me? Why not me? It’s not that bad, other people have full cancer and no hair. It’s a Pac-Man and it’s eating my healthy cells. If it’s here is it everywhere? Will I see my kids grow up? I’m a freak with all these scars. What if, What if, What if, WHAT IF?
More than ever, music became my touchstone. Michael Franti took me through every surgery and the my doc knew that the last thing she needed to do before the anesthetic kicked in was to drop my iPod and my headphones into the big plastic bag marked “Patient Belongings”. The surgical center knew that it would be my third request when I woke up. 1. Can I see Jeff? 2. How were the margins? 3. Can I have my iPod. There’s some perks to being a frequent flyer I guess.
I debated reconstruction almost to the point of madness. It’s funny that I asked pretty much all of my girlfriends what they thought I should do. They all had the same answer, “It’s your body.” In my more bitter times I assigned the meaning of that statement “Damn girl, I’m glad that’s not me!” In my enlightened moments, I believe they were giving me the message from God to make my own choice.
It’s wasn’t so much the removal of my breasts that touched me deeply. It was the reconstruction. The plastic surgeon took me through so many different procedures – from doing some sort of modified tummy tuck and using the muscles from my abs to construct something right out of Weird Science to pulling muscles from my back. After that Slide Show from Hell, saline filled implants seemed almost like I could purchase them from a vending machine and get some change back for a Diet Coke.
I pause here and say that I celebrate and understand anyone who has made the choice to do any kind of reconstruction, or any elective surgery. We all have our own path.
I took my final decision all the way up to 48 hours before the surgery. The implants were ordered, the plastic surgeon was standing by the step in when my own sacred body parts were cleared away. I got home exhausted from a double header doctor appointment of surgical oncologist and plastic surgeon and collapsed next to Jeff.
“Honey, I really hate seeing those implants sitting on the counter at the doctor’s office and thinking of them inside my body. They are just so plastic. It seems counterintuitive to being healthy to put that into my scarred up little body.”
Jeff looked me dead in the eye said The Most Wonderful Thing Any Guy in the Whole World Could Ever Say.
“I just want you to be alive.”
I called the surgeons and cancelled the reconstruction. My doc wasn’t too surprised. We had a brilliant but medicated (me, not her) discussion about going all the way and not to get too gory but I told her to do whatever it took to get great margins and remove whatever she deemed necessary for me to live forever. She happily complied and told me during the surgery that she had that conversation pulsing in her mind through the whole procedure and it made her job 3000% easier not to have to consider what the end result would look like.
And, I am beautiful to me. And to Jeff. Worry is an ugly beast and we sent that bitch packing.
So what does this have to do with a guy named Matt?
Back to the music. I had been seeking the perfect song to sum up that moment with Jeff. That moment that he as a man, a husband, a co parent, a partner, a lover, a friend, and a plain old good citizen of Earth showed me pure love. Pure acceptance. Pure allowing of me to be me.
“I just want you to be alive!”
Collective Soul came close with “Soul Meets Body”. Michael Franti came closer with “I’m Alive!”
Matt Nathanson had sat on my iPod and I’d hit him once in a while. I had used “Come on Get Higher” in a slide show and still loved it although I had heard it about 900 times while I set the slides. I liked his sound but he was one of many. Imagine my surprise when I took the kids to our annual Michael Franti pilgrimage and Matt was a part of the party.
What a delightful guy on stage. The concert was acoustic and Matt rode the energy of the crowd and the simplicity of the concert for his entire set. He was enchanting and enchanted at the same time.
I hadn’t heard “Bill Murray” before. Great premise. Matt had a dream that Bill Murray was his friend and they drive around together. I was hooked. Who wouldn’t want to ride around with Bill Murray and chat? The song is fun and light until you get to Matt’s amazing solo vocal:
I won’t only love you when you’re winning.
Other fools pretend to understand.
Come on take my hand we’ll go out swinging.
Let me be your man.
Writing the lyrics can’t even begin to convey the feeling and the grace Matt gives these words when he sings. For me, was the first time that beautiful moment that Jeff said “I just want you to be alive!” came to life. Someone got it. And it was Matt Nathanson. And for that, I send him gratitude.
Those words moved me into acceptance of Jeff’s love and allowed me to graciously receive the gift of his his willingness to be my partner not just in the surgery, but in life.
Pick up your iPod, Pandora, your phone, or your album collection and let it flow. And of course add some Matt Nathanson to your collection if this story speaks to you. Let’s all be alive!