A friend shared with me a Zen quote: “Do only what needs to be done – and nothing more.” I thought – why? Why should I only do the minimum when I could do soooo much more…? Well, that’s another story, another post.

But 4 months ago at the start of all this cancer craziness, that quote popped into my head. I was waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting… waiting for test results, waiting to take more tests, waiting for what felt like news on my fate. The first announcement from the doctor – “I think it’s cancer.” and the waiting for results to find out what kind. There was so much for me to hold – What could it be? What’s the protocol and prognosis for each option? What if…? And after learning it was anal mucosal melanoma, it was waiting to take the PET scan to see if and how far it had spread. What if? Somewhere some radiologist knew more about my fate than me. Again, all the questions, all the possibilities.
It was during these questioning times that the Zen quote popped into my head, but this time with a twist:

“Hold only what is yours to hold – and nothing more”

That was it for me. There are too many unknowns. I could live the pain and worry of each horrible possibility, but the worry has nothing to bear on the actuality of my situation. Hold only what is mine to hold. On October 28th, it was that I probably had cancer. Nothing more. On October 30th, it was that it was anal mucosal melanoma. I didn’t know what stage, I didn’t know if it had spread, I didn’t know much about the disease, and I decided that I couldn’t let myself until the doctor had MY results. Hold only what is mine to hold. All the statistics, all the google searches lead to a mishmash of results from other people with potentially very different circumstances than my own. Hold only what is mine to hold. And usually throughout this journey I haven’t had enough information, but I hold what I do have. And by holding only that, I hold room for possibility. I can handle it.

IMG_0464Today was day 3 of round 2 of chemo. Today and for the next 6 days I wait on the results of yet another ominous test. Unless, until I know I have something else to hold, I only hold what is mine to hold. This has kept me sane (relatively), lowered stress, and helped me savor precious moments of life, rather than waste them in worry.

So, hold only what is yours to hold – and nothing more.

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