One of my doctors in Mexico told me that cancer was a ‘mensaje’, a message: this is my attempt to unravel and understand just what that message was for me and what I believe it could be for us collectively.
Like many who go through any number of traumatic and life- and or body-changing events, I knew it was time for me to dig deep, look at my unresolved issues and attempt to deal with them. Cancer gave me the chance to stop, rest, reassess and look at the bigger picture; to allow myself to be happy, to be me and to question many things that I’d been taught. To begin to heal my wounds, to forgive others and myself, to clean up, speak up and feel OK about defining myself as a spiritual as well as a human being, connected to the whole of our increasingly fragile world and all its inhabitants.
Cancer could be the environmental wake-up call of our time or at least one of them. Our garden birds have carcinogenic chemo drugs, hormone disrupters and anti-depressants in their bloodstreams, fire retardant chemicals are evident in the deep oceans and found in breast milk, and cancer is present in whale populations, yet at the same time, we’re told cancer is a result of living longer. If we’re to have a chance of dealing with this epidemic we need a new sort of healthcare, starting with education about what health really means. Or what Satish Kumar, Peace Pilgrim and recently retired editor of Resurgence and Ecologist Magazine calls ‘A reverent ecology’; a place where spirit and science can embrace and the best of modern and alternative medicine can combine without patients having to wage a war of ideologies at a time of deep personal crisis. We can’t afford to ignore the cries of our planet or our bodies, like I did, for so long.
This memoir is dedicated to Dr Filiberto Muñoz, Dr Carlos Mancilla and all the staff at the San Diego Clinic, Tijuana, México.
And in memory of my mother, Agnes Nicol OBE and all the cancer patients who touched my life.