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The Art of Being: Cancer Journal-December 3, 2021 Drop by Drop

The vision for the HeARTH/DMG website is that it becomes a hub for community. My hope is that those who wander this way can find some connection, understanding, peace and everyday wisdom through their interaction. I know that a personal connection is important in marketing and creating that sense of community, belonging, and engagement that is required to move the vision of HeARTh and DMG forward. Deborah Gregson


Drop by Drop


So, it seems that there is cancer in some lymph nodes under my right arm as well. The horse is out of the barn. This means CT and bone scans next, to see how far it has gotten. It means chemotherapy before surgery. It’s not going to be easy. That is for sure. As I contemplate these little cells possibly metastasizing through my body systems and the havoc they could be wreaking as I wait for the medical system to absorb me, I feel the need to distance myself from the emotional and spend a little time with an intellectual, though still heartfelt, exercise in metaphor and parallels. I think this is the time for my “drop by drop” blog post. I knew it would come to me. So here it is.

I didn’t get here overnight. It took years, decades, genetic and environmental influences outside of my control, lifestyle and nutrition choices inside my control, and who knows what other elements to combine into the perfect storm that became a cancerous tumor in my right breast that is now leaking out into my body. Through my lifetime thus far, drop by drop, little by little, the deficits and dangers eroded the reservoir of defenses and protections. It is impossible to completely extricate the controllable from the uncontrollable but there are definitely things that come to mind that I figuratively kick myself for.

Conscious choices, or at least reckless decisions made from a limited perspective that contributed to the conditions wherein malignant cells could grow and spread. Instant gratification, narrow vision, putting what I wanted now ahead of responsibility for my future. Not truly respecting my body as a miraculous interconnected system that can regenerate itself if given the right ingredients and conditions. As I age this becomes very clear. What seemed so far off back then, with lots of time to change my ways is not so very far off now and my back-peddling comes far too late for some things to be saved. All I can do is move on from where I am at, what I know now, and what I want my future to look like.

I didn’t do everything wrong. So certainly what is currently happening, while inconvenient, nail-biting, and still potentially tragic, is being influenced positively by some good nutrition and self care, by my deep spiritual core , by faith and hope, and by developed technologies. Elements in my life that have been built up by my own sound decisions and the actions, choices, and perspectives of others. My body is a system of separate but interconnected and mutually influential parts that must be treated from a holistic perspective and approach to achieve maximum healing and success. So drop by drop, little by little, I do the next easiest thing, whatever I can, today, from where I am at. I can turn this around. I have been here before.


My mental health journey began with a series of elements beyond my control that combined together with choices I made, for good or ill. Genetics, environmental influences, nutrition, habits, ignorance and sometimes blatant disregard for what was happening in my brain and nervous system created a perfect storm for mental illness to flourish. Drop by drop, little by little, the deficits and dangers eroded the reservoir of defenses and protections. It is impossible to completely extricate the controllable from the uncontrollable but there are definitely things that come to mind that I figuratively kick myself for.

Conscious choices, or at least reckless decisions made from a limited perspective that contributed to the conditions wherein dysfunction could grow and spread. Instant gratification, narrow vision, putting what I wanted now ahead of responsibility for my future. Not truly respecting (or being vigilantly responsible for) my brain and nervous system which have the miraculous ability to regenerate and strengthen themselves given the right ingredients and conditions.

But I didn’t do everything wrong, and there were some protections and resiliencies that helped keep me safe during the fall and even slowed and limited my descent. My moral code, my spirituality, a staunch but balanced religious background, social structure’ and practice, the right nutrients and minerals, wisdoms gleaned and skills for research and creative solutioning, a deep sense of responsibility and care for my family, combined with other unknown and unseen environmental and genetic elements kept my experience from being, difficult as it was, as tragic as some. My mind, my very being, is a system of separate but interconnected and mutually influential parts that must be treated from a holistic perspective and approach to achieve maximum healing and success. Drop by drop, little by little, as I did the next easiest thing, I am repairing and refilling my reservoir to turn things around.


Our communities, like our bodies and our brains, are also systems that have their own internal and external influencers. Influential elements based on location, economics, people who live there, local, regional and national political tides combine to make it just as it is today. Drop by drop, little by little, the deficits and dangers eroded the reservoir of defenses and protections. It is impossible to completely extricate the controllable from the uncontrollable but there are definitely things that, if we are willing to own it, collectively and individually, will come to mind upon honest examination.

Conscious choices, or at least reckless decisions made from a limited perspective that contributed to the conditions wherein dysfunction could grow and spread. Instant gratification, narrow vision, putting what we want now ahead of responsibility for our future and that of others. Not truly understanding, appreciating, or being accountable to the fragility of our social systems which have the ability to regenerate and strengthen themselves if given the right ingredients and conditions.

We didn’t do everything wrong. If this pandemic (or any other crisis) has taught us anything, it is that we care about each other, most of us. We have all along. There are some protections and resiliencies that have kept us safe during the fall. We have done things that have slowed and still do slow our descent. The DNA of community exists alongside the deficits of our human frailties and failings. Social and moral codes, healthy practices, wisdoms gleaned and skills developed, creative problem solving, a collective sense of mutual care, if not always first for each other, then at least for mutually assured self preservation.


There is hope. For challenged bodies, broken minds, and our fractured communities. Just as combinations of elements can be identified and reversed or mitigated in bodies and minds, to heal, to transform, to overcome dysfunction, so can they in our communities. Whatever unconscious, irresponsible, non mindful steps and even elements out of our control led us to where we are, the journey out of what isn’t working requires mindful, conscious and responsible decisions and choices. Each of us and each community is an interdependent system of separate but connected and mutually influential parts that must be treated from a holistic perspective and approach to achieve maximum healing and success. Drop by drop, little by little as we do the next easiest thing, each of us, whatever is in our grasp. We can repair and refill the reservoir and create a sustainable future. While some things may be forever lost, the future is still open to possibility. We each have the ability to do things differently, and I believe we can. I have been here before.


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