Thank you for opening this email. I wish to up date you on my previous urgent correspondence
and to express my gratitude for your mindfulness around my situation. You can’t stop love
Firstly … thank you for your patience in me getting back to you.Lastly … I have, thank god, better news.
One month ago, back down under and reeling from a head and neck cancer diagnosis just received in the US, I surrendered my will to the medicine that would attempt to stop the disease and it’s spread. I am grateful I did.
Mid morning, on April 12, 2017, an hour into my scheduled neck dissection at Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital, the highly practiced mind and skillful hands of my New Orleans soul surgeon Sarah Kelly, decided to abandon the procedure mid way. Rather she chose to back her experience and gut, and put a halt to the use of cold steel to remove the back of my tongue, the golf ball size tumour, and fifty glands from the left side of my neck.
Sarah speaks from my bedside … “ Whilst cutting into your tongue base something just didn’t feel right so I stopped. After consultation with my team they agreed to back the decision, Wash I’m sorry to put you through this but I need to look again, to go back. During surgery I was able to get to the difficult location of what I believe to be the primary cancer and have taken fresh samples to biopsy. Now I want to take larger core biopsies from the neck tumour before going any further. I need to be sure.”
One LONG week I waited. Finally receiving a call from a delighted and relieved Dr Sarah. She informed me that the original needle biopsy of the neck had in fact proven to be incorrect. Both the small primary in my tongue and the neck tumour are squamous cell carcinoma of the viral stream, which according to all statistics, responds extremely well to radiation and chemotherapy. “Surgery is not the protocol for SCC cancer,” she reported happily and she would now go ahead and organize the Hospital Oncology team to begin seven weeks of treatment. The cure rate is high.
I am now living around the corner from the Royal Brisbane, and on my second week of receiving both radiation and chemotherapy. Five days a week, “Clarissa” (the name I’ve given my protective mask) and I are bolted into the laser beams, on top of this there are weekly chemo infusions. The procedure will last for seven weeks with an expected six months of recovery post treatments.
Two weeks ago I had a feeding tube inserted directly into my belly to enable me to eat when the treatments make it too painful to swallow. This made things become real quickly. A hole in your Hara is not a wound I would take on again. It is not meant to, nor does it heal, like many other ancient wounds made to a man’s belly.
It is a difficult and life-altering mountain I am facing. The medical care I’m receiving is truly amazing. Thank you Australia for fighting for a health care system that truly cares when you need it. I have found Medicare’s love, professionalism and expertise overshadowed only by its compassion. My care is free of charge.
Thank god I have Elise Eaton by my side on this climb, I would simply not be able to do this with out her.
In closing, I have confidence, a confidence that comes as strength to those who are frightened. Dear friend we have chosen each other well! I am mindful for and grateful to you for being one of my beloved family of choice. My Sangha.
I often get scared. Cancer can be scary.When I do, I try to practice “Dear Fear I am here for you”
You can’t stop love … Washuntara
Dear One, I like to think of myself as a wordsmith, however, this morning I fail to have access to such skills and shall simply try to tell you what’s up. After much consideration, my heart tells me I must reach out and bring you an update on my current health situation.
One month ago in Wisconsin I received a life altering diagnosis informing me that the lump on the left side of my neck that had been keeping me up at night worrying, is unfortunately a rare type of cancer called Mucoepidermoid Carcinoma.
The thankful news is that it is treatable. This Wednesday the 12th of April (or the 11th for those of you in the states) I will be having surgery at the Royal Brisbane Hospital performed by Dr Sarah Kelly and Dr Morry Stevens, who will remove the tumor and fifty other glands on the left side of my neck. At the same time they will laser a thin section of the back of my tongue that may or may not be cancerous. Depending on the information gathered from the operation there will be more details about follow-up treatment.
If that sounds scary to you it does to me too, and I swing between being scared and witnessing quietly the unfolding in my life. Thank god for my practice of mindfulness and the ability to slow down and breathe.
Thankfully my beloved Elise has made the trip to Australia to be with me on this journey and we would ask for your prayers and intentions for healing this week.
We will attempt to keep you informed as best we can as to how the surgery goes via another email. Please feel free to be in contact with your thoughts, the connection is imperative to my spirit. Understand my lack of a timely response does not mean a lack of love. Lastly, I would like to stay away from public social media on this as much a possible to preserve a breath of privacy.
Dear one, thank you. It is my firm belief as never before … you can’t stop love.