As I have mentioned before, I am a Reiki Master, trained in the art of facilitating others in their healing. Just after I completed my internship and Mastered, I took on a regular client in a business trade arrangement. We have been working together for almost two years now. When we began, she was in the beginning phases of her third battle with cancer.
She lost her right breast first to cancer about thirteen years ago. Five years later, she was diagnosed with a much more aggressive and completely different cancer in her left breast. They said they got it all. Five or so years later, she started feeling ill and went in for a check-up. That visit revealed that the aggressive cancer was back. It had settled in her hips and skull. Since then, it has spread to her legs and spots have shown up in her liver.
In the beginning of our work together, we were able to eliminate her pain and drastically slow the growth of cancer. Her tumor markers dropped to astoundingly low levels and her oncologist kept saying, “Whatever you are doing, keep doing it.” She continually expressed her gratitude that she was completely without pain. I was grateful to be working with a client that was so firm in her resolve to get well and to live. I appreciated watching her physical and spiritual presence grow and her voice become strong. I loved hearing her stories and feeling her energy and supporting her on her journey. Our intention was clear from the very first session when she stated, “I am going to beat this cancer. I am determined to live my life as a healthy person.”
Last fall, she took on a huge project of moving her aunt into a rest home. This entailed cleaning out her aunt’s residence of many, many decades. For a month straight, they toiled and labored to clean out the home. I noticed that she was showing signs of fatigue. She accepted responsibility for not caring properly for herself and for working too hard on the project. Just as her project was wrapping and her energy level was at its lowest ever, I got bitten by that bug and ended up wading through the West Nile for over six weeks. I was unable to work for almost three months.
When we got back together just before Christmas, I was startled to see the stark difference. I felt tears burn my throat as she whispered, “I can’t beat this cancer. It’s not going to go away. I have accepted that.” Her entire outlook had changed and I felt the desperation run through her body. She was so tired of the battle. So tired of the struggle. The pain had escalated. Her markers had shot up. Her energy level was completely drained. Her life force was strained. Her body was being ravaged by a weed that had not been properly tamed.
I reverently placed my hands upon her body that day, praying that I could do something to bring her back. The rhythms of her soul were so slow, they were almost undetectable. I wanted to pull my hands back and yell at the universe. I wanted to be angry with her. I wanted to hold her here, make her live.
At the beginning of this year, she came into my office for her first Reiki appointment this year with tears streaming down her face. This beautiful, 5’10” warrioress stood before me defeated and deflated. A physically diminished woman, her clothes hanging from her shrinking frame, her eyes haunted. And, behind those eyes, the message of the warrioress was clear: the journey has taken a turn we were not prepared for. I watched her and intuitively knew it was time to help the warrioress lay down her sword and shield and prepare her to be laid to rest. My heart sank to the floor and I cried with her. I wasn’t ready to let her go. I wanted to hold on for forever. I wanted my beautiful, strong friend to be with me throughout life. I wasn’t ready to release into death another one of my deeply-loved friends.
In the beginning, our appointments were every other week. This year, though, I switched her to every week because her life force was so weak. She had things she wanted to finish before she walked off the earth. She wasn’t ready to go either. Our sessions were about refilling her reserves so she make it from week to week.
She started chemo again, as per her doctors assurance that “this will help you feel better.” This morning she called me to say that she wouldn’t be here for her appointment. She was going back to the doctors. After one dose of chemo, her system is completly shot. She went in yesterday and they told her they would need to give her four rounds of stuff (I don’t know what) to boost her system before they could even get her strong enough for the next chemo dose. Something has gone seriously wrong.
I feel sad to know that the world is going to lose this amazing woman. I feel sad that I am going to lose a best friend. I feel sad that cancer is rampaging through humanity at alarming rates and we are seemingly at its mercy. The problem with that is, cancer has no mercy. It is not a respector of class, race, education, age or sex. It takes where it can. There are gifts in cancer. I know this. She has taught me this, as have several other people in my life. The sadness, though, of knowing that I am literally watching my friend die is intense beyond belief.