Question (An update from April 2, 2012):
Dear CD (Chosen Dad),
I have now learned that the cancer is metastatic to the spine, so Stage 4, with a prognosis of 2-3 years. It is like I am watching myself from the outside, very little emotion, not scared or angry, just calm and accepting.
It is, though, like an ever-present cloud hanging over me. Maybe this will change in time.
I do feel like I am handling it better than those around me, and it hurts my heart to watch my husband cry over his pending loss, and my mother fall apart….
I am being treated with only 5 days of radiation and then aromatase inhibitors—no chemo at this point, so that is something to be grateful for.
I am also grateful that I had an 8 year remission and during which I changed my life. I left a job I hated and now spend my time doing the things I love, i.e., hiking with dogs in the woods, housesitting dogs, volunteering at the ASPCA and the yoga center in exchange for a yoga membership. I hope my energy keeps up for quite a while so that I can continue doing these things.
I thought about getting my own dog but that would be selfish as I have seen how heartbroken and forlorn they are when they lose their person.
I seem to have let go of everything—housework isn’t done, and I am having a hard time eating the things I should—and I still haven’t been able to quit smoking…..Just wanted to share this with you Dad.
You started in the right direction by leaving the job you hated, but you still don’t love yourself as much as a dog. I would like to tell you to get a dog—then you can’t die and break its heart!
I had a patient with cancer and 12 cats, and I told the family, “If you take them away from her, she’s dead.” They left her cats with her—they were her therapy and she went on living.
Love yourself and your life and you could live to be a hundred. Your body needs love too, just like a puppy does, and you need to do what is good for youself out of love not guilt.
I’ve actually known people who smoked outside so their cats would not die from secondhand smoke inhalation. If people took as good care of themselves as they do their animals they would suffer fewer illnesses.
So do it—take good care of yourself.
Bernie, your CD
Question for Bernie:
I first picked up your book Love, Medicine & Miracles two and a half years ago at a counseling session with my husband who was a drinker. At the same time, my mother was fighting lung cancer. My husband turned around and hasn’t had a drink in months. Before she died, I was able to tell my mother that I loved her.
Because she pushed me away during her cancer fight I found myself deeply hurt because I had always believed we were very close. It has affected me more than I thought possible. I have kept my distance from people and don’t want to trust anyone with my feelings. I am afraid to care for people emotionally; I don’t trust their words or feelings. Do I expect too much in return? Can I find happiness with others and with myself again, sharing thoughts and feelings as before? I don’t know.
I have a great fear of getting cancer, being sick and dying, and realizing that only then would people come by to say they care. I want to feel that caring from people now. I want to enjoy our lives and relationships while we are healthy. I listen to your meditation CDs and am trying to feel good about myself, but I keep wondering—what is LOVE?
I don’t understand it. Here I am 50 years old, menopausal and searching!! I am so stressed about not living the life of happiness I deserve. I want to live for the moment. I want to let go of past hurts. I want to feel healthy. I don’t want to feel abandoned by my parents. I continue to read from your website which is wonderful, and listen to the meditations. I continue to try and feel again. I think I just need some personal words of wisdom from you. If you could help, I would appreciate your thoughts on how not to feel alone, or lonely—and how to truly find happiness and not be hurt when relationships change.
Thank you for all of your inspiration. I need an extra nudge.
To answer your question “What is LOVE?” –
Love is giving with no expectations. When you expect something in return it is not love.
Feeling alone and lonely is what makes us vulnerable to disease. The anxiety and stress weakens our immune system. The first person to bring closer to you is yourself—care for yourself in loving ways, just as you have cared for others in your life. One of the hardest ideas for most people to understand is that loving yourself should be a priority—it is not in any way selfish.
Care for yourself first, and then you will be physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy so that you can be there to support others in your life who need your love. Paying close attention to your Mind-Body-Spirit connection will make it possible for you to stop being afraid of people and relationships. When you are clear in your own mind about loving and supporting yourself, you can be open with others without fear. We are all wounded. Wear a “visible bandage” and watch how people will open up and share with you.
If you don’t already have a loving pet in your life, I highly recommend thinking about getting one. The warmth of a pet’s unconditional love is very healing. Also, our pets and children teach us how to “live in the moment.” Just watching a pet or a child play and interact with others shows us how to clear our mind of worries—past and future—and just find joy in the present.
Think about the person you want to be. See yourself happily surrounded by friends sharing stories, ideas, and feelings. Surround your vision with a warm, golden light. Start “practicing” being that person when you are with someone in a relaxed setting. See yourself as being accepted and loved for the person you really are.
Since you regularly visit my website, you know that I often suggest “re-parenting” as a great way for adults to learn how to love the person they are, starting with loving the little child they see in their own baby pictures. This, along with finding some “daily sayings” that you can carry with you and refer to throughout the day, will give you that “nudge” toward finding the happiness you do deserve.
Finally, do what makes your heart happy—your heart should make up your mind.
So go out and serve love and you will be rewarded…believe me, I know. Remember, only love is immortal.