It has been 21/2 years since my husband and business partner, Alex Berks died from a Sarcoma. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what I have learned from the experience.
Like the proverbial journey to Oz, we are always looking onward for an answer to life’s questions. The journey comes in many forms for all of us. And there is no escaping it.
Death, the end of life as we know it in this body, I have come to believe, does not end the soul’s journey. It is how well we have traveled that counts..
I reflect back on the 2 years I spent watching and living with my partner dealing with “cancer.” The many times I cried in my car because of the fear that his life would end trails off to the many times I cried in my car knowing that he is gone. This has lessened in frequency now. In all of this I am reminded of living in the moment and practicing gratitude for all I have. I am not a victim. I am one of the many who was lucky enough to find love, start a family and help others.
I thought I would not be able to treat cancer patients but this is farthest from the truth. I realize that cancer is not a disease I have to fear. It is not always a death sentence. Many of my patients that are going through cancer treatments are amazing and inspirational. They have made peace with the hand they were dealt in this lifetime. They have looked at this diagnosis as a way to change their lives. If only we could embrace this idea every moment without the need for a diagnosis.
I am studying with a cancer specialist in complementary medicine and reading many pages about the disease. Today, I saw a woman who had DCIS and with her surgeon had a face-lift and a new procedure where they take out the cancer and radiate the whole breast. No lymph nodes were involved and no one had told her that radiating her breast with DCIS in her circumstance wasn’t necessary. She was a guinea pig for this new treatment that they were experimenting with.
In all of medicine it is important to be your own advocate. I respect the medical profession but many Doctors are influenced by pharmaceutical companies. Oncologists are the only doctors that get a cut of the chemotherapy drugs that they use. Many Western Medical doctors do not know of other tools available to assist in treatment of diseases. Furthermore, the one area that doctors don’t have tools for is how to get a person well. Doctors focus on “killing cancer” With botanical medicine, nutritional supplements, foods and treatment, we can strengthen the immune system and help the body heal from western medical treatments such as radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy. I am not suggesting that I dislike western medicine. I respect the field immensely. I hope that one day there will be a strong bridge from Western to Eastern medicine.
There is so much fear around the diagnosis of cancer. I was one to share in that fear. Kill the cancer was all I thought about. Make sure it never comes back. I do not regret any of the decisions that we made but I do reflect on that time.
At the same time of Alex’s metastasis came a lot of stress in our lives. I am certain that this stress escalated an already growing tumor. It is a well known fact that stress decreases the immune system. His blood levels of fibrinogen, d-dimer (clotting factors) and c-reactive protein (inflammatory marker) were extremely high. He knew that the cancer was back. He had studied cancer and knew the signs to look for. He wrote extensively about the deep underpinnings of emotional blockage that he believed was a contributing factor to cancer growth long before he was diagnosed. He was a seeker .
Life without Alex is hard. I miss his tall, big presence and his quest for the meaning of life. I often stop and think, what would Alex do? He is an amorphous presence in my life and the lives of our children.