The Transcendent Music of the MRI

My cat & I set off to the underworld!

You don’t find light by avoiding the darkness.

S. Kelley Harrell

The MRI machine is a miraculous merging of prehistoric sounds and 21st century technology. It captures and records images of ‘you’ that are nothing like what you conceive of yourself as, which allows you to let layers of illusions about “what” you are fall away into stardust, and it does something even more wondrous and unexpected: It offers you time to let go and journey into its world. My mantra from the first awareness of the tumor has been to embrace it all. Befriend every part of the experience. Do not use my energy to resist what is coming. Instead, step into whatever comes, and when its usefulness is over, shake its dust from my socked feet and say thank you. I preserve my energy for healing.

I named the MRI Ganesha, the Hindu diety, the Elephant God, remover of obstacles and lord of new beginnings, companion for all new ventures. (And incidentally, associated with writers!)

Ganesha’s mantra is Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha, which we can loosely translate to: Yo! Wake up Root Chakra energy of transformation so I can move through any obstacles in my life. Hooray!


Dear Ganesha,

When you lie on the ‘plank’ to go into your belly — the womb of the machine, they wrap you with straps. One of the straps monitors your breathing and heart rate. Like an umbilical cord, it sends your vitals back to the mother behind the glass. You hold a rubber “panic” button so you can send a signal if you’re needing to leave the machine. It feels like a stress ball, comfortable and solid in the hand. You put bright yellow ear plugs in and then you enter the tube where you are unable to move, so your only choice is to let it all go, give it up to the solid plank beneath you — the plank that represents not just this technology, but the 10,000 hands of all the people who have helped you in your entire life, living and dead. The 10,000 hands of the helpers you have yet to meet. All that is.

You close your eyes because they blow air on your face and the machine starts a slight low shake, which takes you back to the churning sea and the forced air is the dance of the wind and then the first sound begins. A sharp alarm sound, followed by the low pinging of a submarine deep in the darkest parts of the ocean — you see octopus and squid and dark fluorescent things — followed by the knocking of a bird’s beak against a tree, followed by a chirring sound and then a siren. You count five sounds, but there could have been more or less. Each sound you associate with a character — a co-creator in the symphony that the machine makes. You think of the film “Arrival” and wonder what language this is — this ancient song wrapped inside the arms of modern Western medicine.

It’s a beautiful song, and soon you hear the rhythm and you stop wondering what each sound correlates with and instead let the music take you down the shamanic tunnel of your mind. You move into the most recent series of dreams you’ve had since learning of the tumor, and you begin to unpack each image, asking questions of it, learning its purpose and its place. You want something to write on so you don’t forget, but you can’t move, so you just keep watching the stories unfolding in your mind with each shift of the rhythm of the machine.

You think you feel heat from the radiation on your belly, but you’re not sure. It could be the contrast dye. It could be something awakening. The submarine pings, the woodpecker knocks, the siren calls, the alarm sounds and the chirring rustle starts to remind you of a jungle in the dark. Your soul is dancing. She is safe and held and the sounds are an ancient home, a music from long long ago.

It’s over before you’re ready. You have more layers in which to journey. But you have emerged with key questions for exploration, and new insights into energetic blocks and old dust that still clogs your field. That is more than enough from one trip, one meeting with the machine. You go into the lobby beaming and you tell your husband, “This trip is just the most amazing thing.”

E = mc (squared). Basically, energy is all there is.


Update on treatment: I am going into surgery at 7:30 am on March 10. They will remove the tumor and resect the colon to the rectum, where they anticipate I will not need a colostomy bag. If at all, it will be temporary.

There will be robots (!!!) doing the surgery, who I have envisioned as helper monkeys, with of course, my super-amazing Keezel-monkey as the one in charge. See, the doc is even wearing monkey green! I will be in the hospital a few days and then on Family Medical Leave until April 5.

Isn’t that freakin’ wondrous?

Prior to the surgery, I have worked with an acupuncturist, massage therapist, energy healer, my long-time teacher and multi-faceted healer/writer/yogi extraordinaire, and an ayurvedic doctor, and after the surgery, I will continue my work with them and will be meeting with an alternative cancer doctor who is both a board certified medical doctor and a naturopath.

I don’t know what else I may or may not do, traditionally or otherwise, and I cleanly and lovingly request that you withhold additional suggestions or concerns regarding my treatment choices and options, as I am integrating many different things at this time. I am keeping an Evernote file of all the resources people have already sent me, and I am practicing discernment and patience with it all. I will ask for what I need, and I have lots of varied, rich sources to draw from. I intend to use my time on Family Medical Leave to journey inward, so please don’t take lack of communication or a delay in a response to your notes as anything personal. I have been given a chance to do absolutely nothing but listen to myself. That’s extraordinary.

It will be just a little over two weeks from awareness of the issue to surgery. Goal one has been to prepare my body, GI tract, and soul for the challenge of surgery so that I have the least resistance to it and fastest healing. Goal two is to remove the tumor, and goal three is to make the best, most healthful and integrative choices for my whole body afterward.

I am not in a panic or a rush. My primary guide is my own body and its intuition, and I am ridiculously excited about the messages it is sending me. I have so much new work to share with you all very soon. This has been a wonderful opportunity to cast off what no longer serves me, and I am very grateful for what I’m learning. I will walk into the hospital with arms and soul open to receive the gifts that fall under their highly specialized area of expertise. They are no less wondrous than the healing work of other modalities. I will walk out of the hospital with gratitude and leave its energy at the door. To every single person who has helped me so far, from the receptionist to the scheduler to the lab tech to the surgeon, I have said, “Thank you for helping me.” That is what each of them has done. Strangers. Helping me reconnect.

Thank you profoundly for your love and concern. I have been overwhelmed by your notes and comments on Facebook and in my non-virtual life. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your stories of your own journeys with illness and your thoughts on the writing in my blog. Please keep doing that.  My request to you above is only regarding unsolicited advice on my personal treatment decisions. Setting this boundary is essential for self-care.

Your stories are helping me shape questions for the next piece of creative work for me.

I am well. This is simply a necessary step forward into what is next for me.

With love and monkeys,


Hello! It is I, Keezel! Do not worry. I got this.

#sisu #cancergift #persist