A few weeks ago, I was in the hospital for a colonoscopy. I know, I know . . . too much information, but there’s a story here.
There were numerous beds in the room and we all waited, male and female, for our turn for the procedure. A woman shared that she had previously had surgery for colon cancer and was in for a check-up. She said that if the cancer returned, she would be heading to Mexico for alternative treatment.
“There’s no history of colon cancer in my family,” she said, “so why would I have this cancer?”
I knew the question was rhetorical, but the look on her face said she was begging for an answer. I said nothing, and it has bothered me ever since. I wish I had told her a bit of what I have come to understand. I don’t know her name. But who knows? Maybe by chance she will read this blog.
Ever since I was small, I had mysterious “heart pain”. Mom and Dad would haul me off to various doctors, trying to find the cause. I was diagnosed with everything from a heart murmur, to pericarditis, to angina, to a pinched nerve, even to having a muscle stuck between two ribs. A sudden, intense pain would start in my heart area and would last anywhere from a few seconds to minutes. I would be unable to move and would breathe shallow until it subsided.
The worst memory is of my sister and I on a ski trip. We were having a great time until another “attack” started on the way home. Our plane landed and my oldest daughter surprised us by meeting us at the airport. The surprise, however, was on her when she saw me laying on a gurney, being loaded into an ambulance after I had collapsed. In the hospital, a doctor came into the emergency room waving the paper from an ECG. He promptly announced that I was having a heart attack. I was thirty-seven years old. I remember bargaining with God, telling Him I wasn’t ready to die. Yet.
The “heart pain” continued . . . sometimes daily, sometimes weekly.
But it mysteriously disappeared when I faced my “crap”, all the nasty secrets that I had never shared with anyone. Things like being sexually abused as a child. Things like having an abortion. Both of which, in my life, begot shame. But shame cannot survive in an environment of nonjudgmental love. My shame could not survive being spoken out loud.
It’s called disease. Dis – Ease. Therefore, if a person is not at ease with themselves, or in a deep, dark place feels shame, dis-ease can manifest . . . I am NOT saying that everyone who has a disease has secrets! God knows genetics, environment and a host of other things come into play. But studies are showing that 85% of disease is rooted in unfelt and unacknowledged emotions. Fear. Shame.
So, if you are the woman who was in the hospital room with me that day, before heading to Mexico for alternative treatment, I would encourage you to face any secrets in your past . . . find a trusted person you can share them with. God will be there with you. He already knows everything that has happened. The disease might heal. And if it doesn't? The most important thing will be. Your spirit.