For a man who had always relegated talk of “coping strategies”, “mental imagery” and “visualization” to the realm of psycho-babble, John certainly came up with some impressive strategies for dealing with his own particular situation as far as the losses that were imposed upon him as a result of colon cancer. His solutions were all the more remarkable when considered against the backdrop of his lifetime convictions that his incredibly strong body was invincible, and that death was eminently preferable to losing the use of any part of that body.

“I’d rather die than have to live the rest of my life in a wheelchair”, he told me repeatedly. “If I found out I had cancer, I’d just fly my plane into the side of the cliff.”

But that was before “the big C”, as we used to laughingly refer to cancer in our invincible, youthful days. I know that I wasn’t the only one holding my breath over how he would handle it when he woke up from his emergency surgery to discover that not only had several feet of his intestine been cut out, but that those bodily functions which had been so conveniently confined inside his body for his whole life were now on full display on the outside. Carrying a bag of shit around his waist was an unbearable desecration of that beautiful, invincible body– we all knew it.

Who could have imagined how John would cope with that? Certainly not I, who was suddenly thrust into the position of his designated alternate for coping. John was so utterly horrified by this unimaginable turn of events that the shock quickly turned to  what I came to view as a very creative form of denial…

One of the biggest challenges of any cancer patient is finding their his/her own unique way of coming to terms with the relentless onslaught of unwanted circumstances that are an unavoidable part of this new way of life. No one wants a colostomy, but  how to come to terms with yours when you wake up from emergency surgery and find out that you have one, after the fact?  How to handle the realization that the one thing that has always been your ultimate source of  pure joy, the activity that has defined you for your entire life is now no longer possible? How do you adapt and keep on rolling with the punches?

My goal with this blog (which is now in book form: has been to take what John and I learned through hard experience, to extrapolate the universals that could ease the lives of other cancer patients and their loved ones, and to translate that into an easy-to-read, easy to search format.

You have stumbled upon a rare opportunity to learn first-hand from another colon cancer patient’s four years of experience in navigating the colon cancer maze.

You owe it to yourself and your loved one to benefit from all that we learned the hard way.  This is the kind of information that, until the publication of this book, could only become part of your database by living through it and  realizing in retrospect how all the pieces fit together:  cancer from the patient’s and caregiver’s point of view.  $9.99 seems like a very small price, considering the emotional and physical suffering you will likely be saved by learning from our experience.

Shedding Light on the Cancer Journey: Navigating the Colon Cancer Maze can now be read on any computer or other reading device. The reader interface is available free from Amazon and is downloadable in seconds.

I will realize absolutely no profit from the sale of this book.  All proceeds from the sale of this book will go towards the support of the 400 monks, nuns and yogis in the seven Tibetan monasteries of Tulku Orgyen Zangpo Rinpoche, who have devoted their lives towards building the foundation for peace and freedom from suffering for all beings in this world.


About surfingon

I live in Hawaii. I surf in the winter and swim in the summer. I have been a hospice volunteer with a contemplative-care oriented hospice for 25 years have been part of their team that trains new volunteers for the last 9 years. I have walked the colon cancer path with my beloved husband these past 5 years. He died very peacefully in April 2009. I now seek to share what we learned, to shed light on the many dark corners of this often mystifying, heartbreaking and heart-opening journey.
This entry was posted in coping, end of life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Carol Shutt says:

    What an amazing posting you’ve given us, Rachel. I love to hear about the spiritual and emotional side of our lives in the midst of illness and healing. It is so important to how we live and travel on whatever paths open before us. Thank you for your honesty and your wonderful writing. And thank you for the in-depth glimpse of who John was-it’s nice to get to know him through your sharing.

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