'It's Stage 4, You Have A Small Chance Of Success'
I walked into the consultant’s room knowing I either had Crohn’s disease or cancer. The possible diagnoses echoing in my head for five straight days (and nights) since a doctor first said them after I had my colonoscopy. Either way I knew it was going to be tough.
Then the moment came, when my eyes welled up. I wanted to crumble and wash away into the ocean. The doctor, gently nodded his head, and quietly said, “Yes, it’s cancer”.
In a short few seconds, several thoughts flashed through my mind. I once told a friend to stay strong, after hearing the C word. I had to listen to my own advice now, otherwise I’d be a hypocrite. I needed to be strong; strong for the doctor who just told me, for the nurse sitting opposite, for my sister who was with me, for my mum who was anxiously waiting at home for an update.
As the consultant went on to give more details, I was taking notes. As thoughts wandered, the realisation came to mind: my previous 10 years were in some way preparing me for what was going to be the biggest challenge of my life. Personal and spiritual development was high on my values list. I studied and trained with some of the leading personalities in the industry; Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, John Demartini, Gabby B and several others. I now had to take all that work and use it to get me through whatever was coming.
I left the hospital with pages of notes and information about the disease and potential plan of action, subject to a MDT meeting between several medical teams. I could no longer hold in the tears. Silently and aimlessly I walked up the high street trying to make sense of it all, as my tears merged with the rain drops.
I had two primary questions: What is the meaning of this? Do I choose to stay?
Following the MDT, the news was to get worse.
I met my oncologist, for the first time, who delivered to blow: “It’s Stage 4, you have a small chance of success.” Stage 4 meaning the very last stage of cancer, the tumour was too big to operate. Chemotherapy was to begin a week later on Christmas Eve, only four days after I my 32nd birthday. Anything but a happy time.
I began to share the shocking news; to family, to friends, to colleagues at work. The news was met differently each time; tears, questions, hugs, silence, and a common curiosity whether my hair would fall out. Hair was the last thing on my mind.
I thought I was going to die in nine months.
I was devastated, I was deflated, I was in despair. What was the point of even having any treatment given my slim chances? I questioned.
Feeling broken, I went to see Dr Kim, a friend and wise person, who is also an integrated physician. “Mo, your mind is more powerful than the words of any doctor.” Hearing those words and working under the guidance of Dr Kim, I slowly moved out of the disempowered state. I went on to have chemo, but in parallel I was determined to be a participant of my own healing.
I embarked on an integrated approach to my care, one that looked at my whole being; mind, body, heart and soul. I knew I had to heal on several levels. My psychology and thoughts were shattered. My emotions and feelings were torn. I was physically worn, and the chemo would only make things worse. I knew diet, nutrition and exercise were important in whatever I did. Staring death in the face, I also knew it was an opportunity to enhance my spiritual connection.
Three years on, it’s a miracle I’m still alive to share my story as I get ready to publish my book Choosing To Stay in the next few months.