Celebrating Adversity

Celebrating Adversity Episode 2: Embracing Yin and its Light

July 02, 2020 Clark & Jules Episode 2
Celebrating Adversity
Celebrating Adversity Episode 2: Embracing Yin and its Light
Chapters
00:00:00
Conversation at the Cancer Center
00:00:31
Introduction to the Episode
00:01:07
Coping with Mortality
00:02:08
Dealing with Cancer's Emotional and Mental side-effects
00:03:26
The Yin and Yang of Living with Cancer
00:08:17
Coping with Covid19
00:11:07
Finding Richness in Listening and Living.
00:16:05
How Does God's Light Land.
Celebrating Adversity
Celebrating Adversity Episode 2: Embracing Yin and its Light
Jul 02, 2020 Episode 2
Clark & Jules

Part 2 of a conversation between two friends diagnosed with cancer: facing mortality and Covid19, embracing inner demons and finding beauty in adversity.

Produced by Clark Soriano and Julian Noursi.
Artwork and original poems by Clark Soriano.

Excerpts on the mental and emotional side-effects of cancer from resources provided by the Ontario based University Health Network and the National Cancer Institute. Statistics on cancer and heart attack related deaths provided by the University of Ottawa Health Institute and 2019 Cancer Statistics.

Thank you Michelle Fanzo (for mentoring) and my wife.

Help us reach out and expand. Contribute to our Go Fund Me Page, A Podcast for People Living with Cancer

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Part 2 of a conversation between two friends diagnosed with cancer: facing mortality and Covid19, embracing inner demons and finding beauty in adversity.

Produced by Clark Soriano and Julian Noursi.
Artwork and original poems by Clark Soriano.

Excerpts on the mental and emotional side-effects of cancer from resources provided by the Ontario based University Health Network and the National Cancer Institute. Statistics on cancer and heart attack related deaths provided by the University of Ottawa Health Institute and 2019 Cancer Statistics.

Thank you Michelle Fanzo (for mentoring) and my wife.

Help us reach out and expand. Contribute to our Go Fund Me Page, A Podcast for People Living with Cancer



Medical Assistant (00:00):

So, do you have any of the following symptoms, fever, chills, headache, no new or worsening cough?

Clark (00:07):

No.

Medical Assistant (00:08):

Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sore throat difficulty swallowing.

Clark (00:11):

Nope.

Medical Assistant (00:12):

Okay. And have you had any close contact with anyone who has had any respiratory illness or anyone who's traveled outside of Ontario for the past 14 days? Did you have a confirmed case of COVID-19 or were you in close contact with someone who had COVID-19?

Clark (00:31):

Nope. I have two cancers.

Julian (00:31):

There are many people facing challenges today COVID-19 is everything. And yet it's not. Welcome to the second episode of Celebrating Adversity, podcast for people living with cancer. This is Julian and I will be hosting part two of an intimate conversation on living with cancer. An episode about death, decline, COVID-19 and facing one's inner demons.

INTRO

Julian: The first episode was all about the sudden impact of cancer on Joseph and Clark and how they coped through the sports they loved. And with the support of family, friends, medical staff, yoga teachers, and trainers. This episode takes us into a discussion on death and decline, starting with Clark, who learned that people facing his cancer had an average life expectancy of three years.

Clark (01:32):

For me, it's about accepting that part of me. That's decaying, that's dying. That's declining. My doctor said that I only have three years more to live. Parts of my body are no longer working. The body that I knew is no longer there. It also has to do with accepting that part of my emotions and my and my head space that is no longer the same. Like right now, I deal with the emotional and mental side effects of the treatment, which I totally underestimated before.

Julian (02:07):

Many people think so much about the physical effects of cancer and its treatment. Clark talks about it's emotional and mental toll, the Ontario Cancer Center and the University Health Network lists some of these invisible side effects: sadness: feeling worthless and hopeless: intense anxiety: difficulties with maintaining attention, remembering and multitasking. What did Clark do to deal with the mental and emotional side effects?

Clark (02:45):

So there's a part of me that has to do with accepting those disabilities that are a consequence of the cancer and the treatment. That's one, but there's another part of me that is really seeing that there are so many things that I'm able to do that I was never able to do in the past. So for instance, I'm much stronger and much more resilient physically than I was in my younger days. I would climb on rock. I would climb on ice. I'd go to hot yoga every other day, and I attained a level of flexibility that I was never able to have when I was young. Secondly, I also began to appreciate things a little bit more. My wife told me, Clark, you are dealing well with your cancer. You are climbing, you are doing all this yoga. And a lot of people who have you've reached out in your Facebook site and through your blog are really inspired and excited by hearing your journey.

Clark (03:52):

But what about the people you love? And what about the people who care about you? How are they doing? And then I realized that in my own journey, I had focused a lot on my, on myself. I recalled something that my mother told me -- her favorite pictures of me, where me taking care of my brother, younger brothers and sisters when I was young. And she said that the essential core of Clark is someone who cares about others, someone full of generosity and compassion. So after that conversation, you know, my friends would tell me, you know, you're right to focus on yourself because you have cancer. And you know, you have life expectancy that's very short. But then I realized that what makes me happy, really, really happy is not just being focused on myself, but loving others and taking care of others, making my wife happy, making her laugh, making her enjoy life, reaching out to people as a coach, taking care, listening to people's stories, empowering them, making them feel that life is not just about the dark side, but life is also about the bright side. And it's both

Julian (05:12):

A friend of Clark once use the metaphor of an empty bowl to describe Clark. She explained that its highest purpose is achieved when it is empty. Clark, she said is like that. He provides a space for people to find themselves, to be inspired, and to find hope.

Clark (05:37):

When you talk to people who are trying to take care of people who have cancer, they rush and tell you you're going to be okay or think positive. You know, what's more important for me is not to rush to tell a person living with cancer, what to do, but to quietly sit down and listen to his story and embrace both the dark side and the bright side of his journey. And that's what my own recovery was all about. It's about the, what I call the yin and yang. It's about embracing that part of you, that's dying and declining and embracing that part of you that's fully alive and growing and bright and sunny. It's a contradiction of sorts. It's like, everyone is going to die. Eventually, you know, you can die at the age of 60. You can die at the age of 70, you can die in three years.

Clark (06:33):

You can die tomorrow. From birth, there's a part of you that's already dying. So for me, part of my own journey was to accept the fact that maybe I'll die earlier, or die earlier than I expect. But an important part of my journey was to realize that in the middle of that dark shadow, there was, you know, a light and that light was, you know, recognizing that, I'm so much more capable right now of loving people, of taking care of others, of seeing, you know, the gem; of seeing the diamond, of seeing the jewel in a situation, in an event, In people

Julian (07:22):

Clark's reflection on his experience is an important message. As some might only see one side of life: the yin or the yang. A friend living with cancer was asked, have you found the gift in this experience? She said, cancer offers a new way of being and seeing yourself, if you choose to take it. In the next segment, Joseph adds his own thoughts.

Joseph (07:50):

I don't want to dwell on the fact that I have cancer. I'd rather focus on moving forward, but it's also good to think about these things, especially when we talk about how it is affecting people around us, how it's affecting us personally, because you're not only stuck inside the house because of your ailment, but because of also the COVID-19 virus, I mean, it's like you sometimes tend to brood, a bit,

Julian (08:17):

Like many others, Joseph and Clark coped with the COVID-19 lockdown through exercise. Joseph set up his own home gym. Clark did online steel mace and yoga. However, the increasing number of cases and the restrictions affected them. Let's first listen to Joseph.

Joseph (08:40):

A lot of people were asking me before why I've not been posting too much on Facebook. When I started, especially in February/March, I was posting everyday on what I was doing or how was I coping, what I was gonna do for that day, my exercises, trying to get well. And then all of a sudden I stopped, what was happening was I think too much already people are dying. Seeing a lot of people getting affected and I was still here trying to get well on my own. And now there's another burden of another sickness that could limit what I could do outside. So I decided to just focus on myself, not share a bit. People were connecting with me and reaching out to me. Um, are you okay? You're not posting anymore. We were looking forward to your posts every day. And I said, I'm good. So my wife is the one who is "videoing"me whenever I'm working out. And she's the one sharing. But for me, I didn't want to just keep on posting while a lot of people are fighting for their lives, Due to COVID. So it was just affecting me in a way that it's adding to my depression about what's happening to the world right now I guess it was a big thing.

Clark (09:57):

I went to a nearby hospital to order some of the things that I needed for my bleeding. They said go to another hospital because we don't want to overwhelm the capacity of the pharmacy. You know, I had to explain my situation that I had two cancers, that I was bleeding and that I really needed the stuff to help me through. Eventually they let me in. So my first reaction was to think about the number of Canadians who die because of cancer or heart disease. 82,000 Canadians died last year of cancer. 70,000 people died last year of heart disease. And for me, what I was initially angry about was the tendency to sideline the people living with cancer and the people living with other lethal diseases. But you know, it's not the screener's fault, I thought about it. And this is the first time that this happened to Canada. People are trying to deal with an unfamiliar situation.

Julian (11:07):

The conversation continues, but with a different twist as Joseph and Clark find comfort in each other,

Clark (11:16):

It was really nice to be talking to another person living with cancer. Often times it's quite challenging to talk to people that don't live with cancer, because you're always trying to balance what you're trying to say. On the one hand, you want to talk about your truth, but at the same time, you don't want them to feel hurt. Because I'm inspiring a lot of other people about what I'm doing, you don't want to disappoint them in that sense. So I'm always weighing how honest can I become and how much do I postpone my feelings? What I like about talking to you, Joseph, is I can share with you what's happening to me as we speak. You've seen me in my optimistic moments, but you're also starting to see me when I get really depressed or when I get myself into, into what I call my dark side. And it's great to be able to talk to a person who's not in a hurry to cut you off, you know, because what I notice about our conversation Joseph, is that you listen and you share and listen and don't judge,

Joseph (12:22):

Thanks. It's a big thing being able to talk to especially somebody who is going through the same experience. Being able to share your thoughts. Also being able to hear how other people with the same, in the same predicament are dealing, right? Because it helps you also, Oh, I didn't think of that. Maybe I could do that as well.

Clark (12:43):

So wrote about you and my Facebook site and people were talking about how much they were inspired by your story. Our stories and our reactions are two different things, but we're making a difference just by talking. No, Julian?

Joseph (13:02):

It's very important to make friends with our demons.

Clark (13:06):

I love that -- "Making friends with our demons." That I think is the essence of it. Yes!

Joseph (13:12):

It's very hard to share such stories from Joseph and from you Clark, as well. And it's very courageous because you want to have people you want to be there for your family and for your friends and for the people you love.

Joseph (13:27):

Actually, after the first time that Clark and I talk about this, I was good with this -- talking about how we were living with cancer, how we were coping and everything. But after thinking about it and after Clark reaching out again and asking if we could do this again, I'm very willing because it's, it's not only like it's feeling that I'm helping other people, but it's like part of my, maybe my legacy. I know, probably because of what happened and because of my ailment, my time on this planet has shortened. It's not like I'm going to reach my parents' age. My dad died in 2017, at 94. My mom is still alive. She's 92. I don't think I'm going to reach that age. Yeah.

Clark (14:11):

That's a very important point. A lot of people who don't live with cancer when they hear a person living with cancer, talk about death. You know, they rush to say, no, no, it's not going to happen. That way, that things might be better. But what if things don't happen that way? There is beauty, even in the shortness of a lifespan that you and I want to share. There's a lot of focus right now on people affected by COVID-19. And oftentimes I get upset when people forget about people living with cancer or people with heart attacks. It's so important to listen also, not only to the voices of people affected by COVID-19, but also to everyone where death is very, very real. It's the stories from people living with cancer, living after heart attacks, living with COVID-19 that makes living more rich. Listening to your story, Joseph and listening to other people living with cancer. You know, they make you realize that those who are immune compromised have a lot of things to say it's so important. Now that these voices be heard,

Julian (15:37):

Joseph and Clark leave us with two hugely powerful messages: Listen to all for whom death is very real. Listening makes living more rich. And it's not the length of time we have, but the richness of the life lived. Let's end this episode with another original poem by Clark, How does God's Light Land?

Clark:

Sometimes God's light hides in my darkness. 
Like a gray shadow of hope, 
In the middle of a dark despairing cavern, 
I smell the sun beyond, ir hear the echoes of daylight. 
Like karma, like the tiny circles of white in the dark side of yin.
The quiet dignity of the Chinese sage, 
Or that enigmatic smile on Gautama as he dies.

Julian (16:47):

We hope you are enjoying Celebrating Adversity , a podcast for people living with cancer Help us reach out, share the podcast. Support our GoFundMe campaign and tune in for the next episode.

OUTRO

 

Conversation at the Cancer Center
Introduction to the Episode
Coping with Mortality
Dealing with Cancer's Emotional and Mental side-effects
The Yin and Yang of Living with Cancer
Coping with Covid19
Finding Richness in Listening and Living.
How Does God's Light Land.