At least, no one is shooting at me this time

(See Part One, “Cancer strikes . . .)

The train ride from home to the hospital was one of the longest trips of my life. I just knew I was going to die. I figured that the surgeon could not remove all the cancer during my operation 10 days earlier, and it finally struck me: I am a cancer victim!

The doctor never called me with the results from the operation in the Veterans Hospital of Philadelphia. I spent five days and four nights there, mostly recuperating from the surgery. When I left, I had hoped to hear from the physician, but  she didn’t call. I believed she was afraid to give me the bad news over the phone.

I never once opened the book I took with me to read on SEPTA’s R-6 rail-line  connecting Conshohocken with the 30th Street Station of Philadelphia. Nor did I open it when I sat on the bus that took me and several other veterans to the hospital in West Philadelphia. Who cared about reading when you only have so much time left? Who cared about anything in life when you’re facing death?

Nor did I check any of my e-mails on the cell phone I carried. How many people do you know that can go a full hour, let alone an entire day, without giving in to the social media addiction? I know some who turn on their phones before getting out of bed in the morning. They just can’t live without seeing the latest text message or input from a Face Book friend or e-mail contact.

But, there I was with no contact with the outside world as I made my way to the oncology ward, sat on an examination bed and awaited the verdict from the doctor. I meditated as much as I could, hoping to calm the jitters I had all morning. It helps to block out all thoughts. It helps not to think because I usually tend to think the worst in a situation like this.


That’s it, Michael J. You got your breathing under control. You have been able to let all thoughts drift by without grasping onto them. You’re a blank slate right now. You’re living in the present moment. You’re safe and sound  in a hospital office. No one is shooting at you, trying to kill you . . .


You know, the greatest benefit of having served in combat is that during the worst times of my adult life, I have always been able to compare it to the fire fights I faced while in Vietnam. Nothing compares to it. No divorce, no death in the family and no serious illness. Did I just mention illness? Yes, even an illness such as a life-threatening one as cancer. At least I’m not suffering pain at this moment. I’m not hurting. I’m not sniveling like a baby who hasn’t got his way for good health and a long life.

I am simply alive. And I can “be” alive for as long as I am able to keep my mind away from any and all negative aspects of death.

Uh oh. Someone just opened the door. It’s Doctor Carter Paulson. She’s smiling. She touches my arm and I am now set for her pronouncement.

“You’re cancer free,” she says. “We got it all.

No cancer means no chemotherapy . . . no radiation . . . no negative thoughts of an impending death.

Now what do I do with this second chance I got from this bout with cancer?

What would you do?

9 comments on “At least, no one is shooting at me this time

  1. Wow. I could only think of what Wayne Dyer said – paraphrasing here “Remember the hippie poster ‘today is the first day of the rest of your life’ well that’s not true, there are no guarantees, today could be the last day of your life. Live each day just like that, like it’s the last day’. You’ve got a purpose ! Keep going !


    • contoveros says:

      Wayne Dyer is correct. We all want and need to have a purpose-driven life, no matter what that purpose might be, just as long as it helps in some small way to serve others, even those we might not want to serve. They probably need a compassionate ear more than our friends.

      Good too see you smiling face, my friend! Take care.

      Michael J


  2. In the Stillness of Willow Hill says:

    I rejoice with you in your wonderful news! The next chapter? You already know. That thing that makes you sing. That place that puts a smile on your face. The you that is True.


    • contoveros says:

      Yes, that thing that makes me sing. I found it and I wish everyone could find their own thing. It is what makes life tastier, with a smile stretching from ear to ear. It’s in helping to serve others, I have learned, and I hope I can do it for as long as I live if not longer . . .


  3. Michael, approx 15 years ago and then again 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with Cancer. I used a world recognized Naturopath out of Dallas. It was an easy clear up but the emotions around it was huge. Shortly after that I was diagnosed with Fibro and Chronic Fatigue.
    In 2003, after the 2nd diagnoses, the most wonderful journey of my life began. When I stood facing an ominous diagnosis three times I began the most profound spiritual journey and began to study everything I could about being healthy thru food and spiritual growth.
    I studied under an amazing Yogi, followed by studies thru a Shaman. I received certification as a Reiki Master, Prani Worker, Essential Oil Therapist. I got my certification, after 7 years, as a Theo Kenetic Mudra Thechnology Facilitator (I am 1 in 10 in the world who are certified by the original teacher). I just completed one of my dream board certifications–certification from the The Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York as a Holistic Health Coach. In January I will begin my certification as a Naturopath.
    So I guess when I was facing the possible end of my life, I decided to live my bucket list without fear of anything.
    Everyday I am cleaning toxic energy, toxic relationships, toxic thoughts, and toxic foods from my space. Everyday the universe delivers something I have been waiting on. Mindvalley Academy gave me my dream workout -QiGong. Sadhguru gave me Isha Kriya meditation. My new dream is to take the Isha Kriya 4 day meditation in Dallas, TX.


    • contoveros says:

      Mindvalley Academy. Why does this seem like it is calling out to me? You seem to have walked a beautiful path and have opened so many doors that I didn’t even know existed in our universe. I too opened myself to Shamanism, Reiki Level One, Pranic healing, essential oils as well as Tibetan Buddhist and Kabbalah, not to mention the Catholic mystics who I favor mostly because of my background. I have not heard of Theo Mudra Technology. Mudras, as far as I know, are hand or body positions that help one draw or act as a conduit for energy and/or spirit work.

      I have kept a dream journal for six weeks and was amazed at the number and flavor of dreams I had each night. I did it after reading about Carl Jung and synchronicity, which I believe might be involved somehow with, I don’t know, maybe learning more of what you have cataloged here.

      Naturopath sounds like another form of healing. I’ve dabbled with something I believe was QiGong, the exercises, but know nothing about Sadhguru or Isha Kriya meditation.

      In any case, I am happy to have made your acquaintance a little more. It’s nice to know there are seekers who find themselves changing after a life-altering experience. Sometimes, I guess it’s what’s needed for us to take a risk with something completely new.

      I wish you luck with the 4-day meditation in Texas.

      Thanks. Kathy McCommon

      Michael J


  4. wolfshades says:

    All I can say is: what a relief!

    I don’t know if this connected world is a blessing or bane: every time I’ve gone to see the doc about something new, I’ve looked it up online – then wandered into the doc’s office fearing the worst, only to find my fears were groundless.

    Congrats on beating this, Michael!


  5. […] (See Part 2, “No one is shooting at me”) […]


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