"Our soul must perform two duties. The one is that we must reverently wonder and be surprised. The other is that we must gently let go and let be." Julian of Norwich

...Cancer teaches both!!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"Living on the Edge"

For the past 6 years I've felt as though I have been living on the edge of death.  Or perhaps the edge of life, depending on how you look at it.  Either way, living with metastatic cancer is "living on the edge".  I tend not to share many of my thoughts about this dimension of the journey.  It is not the kind of thinking that people normally want to engage in.  But it is the kind of thinking that late-stage cancer survivors are drawn to.  At least occasionally.

I can't imagine any cancer survivor who hasn't delved a little into the "existential questions" of life and death.  For those of us with metastatic or recurrent cancers, these questions become more pressing.  To avoid them is to live in denial of our mortality.

Henri Nouwen offers up the following as food for thought...

"Is death something so terrible and absurd that we are better off not thinking or talking about it? Or... 
Is it possible to befriend our dying gradually and live open to it?  Trusting that we have nothing to fear.  
Is it possible to prepare for death with the same attentiveness that our parents had in preparing for our birth?"   
Henri Nouwen "Our Greatest Gift"

Beginning in July, I will have the opportunity to explore these and other questions in a new program I am facilitating at InspireHealth, Vancouver's integrated cancer care center. "Living on the Edge" will be a small support group for "late-stage" cancer survivors.  Themes explored will include: facing death; accepting our mortality; getting the most out of THIS life; doing what is life-giving; finding friends for the journey; engaging family and friends; and life after death, to name but a few.

So, over the next few months, I will be using this space to share some of my own personal reflections on this aspect of the cancer journey.  Please do not be alarmed or think that I am feeling any closer to the end of MY journey.  I am not! The truth is I have been living with this awareness of the "proximity of death" for most of the past 6 years. Much of what I'll be sharing here will come from what has been on my mind from time to time over the past several years, the "unpublished" pages of my journal.

If you're interested you can start by reading some of my previous posts on death and dying...  here.

Be well... Rob; in Vancouver

“There is no cure for birth and death,
save to enjoy the interval.”
George Santayana


Mad Meter Maid said...


I am looking forward to your insights in this area. Since I do some palliative care visiting this sort of knowledge will help me to empathize. Your blog work is quite good keep it up.


Anonymous said...

so glad to be able to share in this Rob. What a wonderful thing you are doing in facilitating this series for Inspire Health...sounds like such a great organization. I am happy others will share in your wisdom and journey.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Rob.

I think this is wonderful, and I look forward to reading about it. This is very important, and you're a wonderful person to be involved.

Gail (tootsie1 from CSN)

Anonymous said...

Rob, I will be following your journey. Thank you for sharing. Aloha,
ps the site I thought you'd like is gratefulness.org (not .com) :)

Anonymous said...

Death is a very hard subject to talk about, especially when it is about a loved one. I am glad you are forming a group to facilitate sharing feelings and thoughts around dieing. And to emphasize that they are normal and important.

Love Robyn

Taylor said...

Blessings and healing to you from a branch of Clan Pollock in Texas.
Best wishes,
Taylor Pollock
Austin, Tx