• DeAara Lewis

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I Thought I was Dying, but I was Just Starting to Live…

Last week was one of the scariest times of my life.  I had been in a great degree of physical pain and when I looked up what could possibly be causing the pain, every site I went to uttered the big “C” word – cancer.  I felt sick to my stomach.  Cancer?  Me?  At my age?  Was it even likely?  If I did have it, what was the prognosis?  So I looked that up to and while most of the information I found suggested I would be in a higher recovery zone, I read some of the sadder stories, about women my age who did not make it.

I was terrified.  And deeply saddened.  All I could think about was, “So this is how my life may end.  All this work I’ve put into myself, this is how life rewards me, by giving me fucking cancer?!”   A part of me became very angry.  Angry that so much misfortune had seemed to be dealt to me and those I love in such a short period of time.  I watched one of my closest friends deteriorate from a mysterious illness that affected his brain.  Right now, his future is in limbo, because it is not clear why in almost a year, he is still unable to move.

As if that wasn’t enough, this past winter, I woke up one morning to find that I was partially blind in my right eye.  It literally happened over night.  I figured whatever it was could not be serious because of how quickly it happened.  I was nervous, but told myself that it was probably allergies.  When I went to the doctor, I learned that I was displaying symptoms of multiple sclerosis and what I thought was going to be a one visit incident turned into a two month ordeal full of testing, MRI’s, and spinal taps.  Thankfully, my vision returned in about six weeks, and although my optic nerve suffered some damage and my vision in that eye has been slightly compromised, I can see again without any problems.  I also learned that I tested negative for M.S., although I have a slightly higher chance of getting it in the future due to what I just went through, but if I take care of myself I will be able to reduce that chance even more.

I felt so overwhelmed, and now here I was once again,  having to be tested, poked, prodded for something else that I viewed as much worse than having M.S.   I called my mother almost daily in tears.  She reassured me that she didn’t believe I had it, but to go ahead and get tested so I can rule it out.  She also was very adamant about me staying off the internet looking it up because it only made me anxious.  When I talked to my Life Coach he said, “DeAara, all the work we have done, you aren’t using it in the time it will benefit you the most.  I can’t tell you whether or not you have cancer, what I can tell you is that you can definitely change your attitude  about it and allow SELF to make room for the unexpected.”  It took that a minute to sink in.

And although a part of me was still sad, angry and terrified, I decided to face it head on.  If I had cancer, I had it.  And although I didn’t want it, although I knew I was going to go through a period of grief and shock, I knew that I would be able to fight.  Why?  Because I’ve been dealt unexpected blows before in my life that initially felt overwhelming, the pain so intense I found myself questioning whether or not I even wanted to live, but somehow, I got through it and healed from it.  This was no different.  AND as much as there was the possibility that I had it, there was also just as much of a possibility that I didn’t.  I wouldn’t know until after I had the medical procedure.

Yes, facing my mortality at my age was something that was tough for me to comprehend, but it also forced me to start the process of making peace with death.  I don’t know when it is going to happen.  I don’t know if I will be young or old and I don’t know what comes after that.  All I know is that I am here now, in this moment.  And every moment that I am here is a chance that I can change my life for the better.  It is a chance that I can grow and more than anything just enjoy being.  It is a chance that I can forgive, that I can love and just be in peace.  Every day I take a breath, every moment, I have the power to do these things regardless of my diagnosis.

On the eve of my medical procedure, I decided to quit fighting the pain.  Initially, I would panic when I hurt, afraid that, that meant the worst.  But that night, I just said to myself, “To hell with it.”  Pain is not always a bad thing, actually, it is not bad at all because it is a signal, a clue that something is wrong.  The Architect designed our bodies and minds in a sophisticated way, so that even in the absence of a doctor, we know when something is wrong.

The next day, I went to get the medical procedure done; my mother close by my side.  When the anesthesiologist put me to sleep, as I drifted away, I imagined my family surrounded by my bedside – my family on this earth and my family that has since transitioned.  I felt my grandfather more than I ever have and he spoke to my spirit.  He showed me that he was going to protect me like he always has in life and even after his death, and I trusted that and I let go.

I actually woke up in the middle of the doctors performing all of the tests on me.  Although I could feel the pressure of the tools, it did not hurt.  And I even heard the doctor say, “Everything looks good.”  Although I couldn’t move nor open my eyes, I relaxed even more and let myself go back to sleep.  When I fully awoke, I had some more good news.  My blood pressure had went back to down.  Lately it had been a little high due to the pain and stress.  And when my mother and I finally spoke to the doctor, he confirmed what I heard in the operating room – I was okay.  They still don’t know why I was hurting so bad, but my theory is when I panicked, I intensified the pain.

This incident gave me a new lease on life. I’ve been working out regularly for a year, but have gotten much more serious about the foods I put in my mouth.  It also put a lot of things into perspective.  When I thought I had cancer, suddenly, most things didn’t matter anymore;  people I was angry with or who I felt had wronged me in the past.  Bills that I didn’t know how I was going to pay didn’t seem to make the much of a difference anymore.  What mattered to me was my passion – creating.  Acting, writing, singing, producing.  I wanted to make sure I left my mark on the world. And more than that – my family,  especially my mother.  I love her more than life itself and she kept me close when I was going through this.  She was patient but firm.  I know that she was scared, but she assured me that whatever happened, I was going to be okay and that she really didn’t believe anything that serious was wrong.  This helped me realize that grudges, burdens, all of that shit really is small stuff.  I don’t have time for it.  I still keep my personal space very protected, but I don’t have time to hate people or hold grudges for things I cannot change.  It really is bad for my health.  My new life goals are to focus on doing the things I love doing, being the person I love being and giving the love that I want to receive.

Just yesterday, we had a pot luck at my mother’s house with family and friends.  We’ve done this several times, but for some reason this one was more meaningful.  I was able to really take in the love and joy of genuine connections and I just had fun spending time with my family.  At the end of the night as my sisters and I cleaned up the kitchen, we broke out in songs and dance that lasted for almost two hours.  We sang everything from Boyz II Men to Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam.  It was one of the best times I had in a long time.  And that’s when I realized the very importance of letting go of negative energy.  I can’t grow from that.  But I can grow from love. Everything else just doesn’t really matter anymore.


2 Responses


  2. Thank you so much LaKeesha! I’m glad you enjoyed it and it’s good to be in touch with you again!

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