A Note From His Loving Wife
Breathing Into Sorrow Mind/Body September 30, 2013 by Kim Becker
I arrive to teach classes to crowds of dedicated Pilates students each week. I believe they have arrived on the mat committed to exercise, learn, move, breathe, center and balance. No one knows what each of us brings into the room or what we leave behind. Sometimes we share more openly and other moments we put our smiles on as if they are an article of clothing we place upon our faces. We hide our inner dialogue, mask our thoughts and try to bring our awareness to our bodies.
Meanwhile, I am wearing my mask. I am hiding all that is tearing me up inside. A few months ago, the doctor told us that my husband had a terminal cancer called Mantle Cell Lymphoma. In this initial diagnosis we were told that with treatment he only had a 2% chance of survival beyond a year. The news numbed me physically, spiritually and mentally. It was as if my emotions had ceased to exist. As I stepped into the class I had to tell myself, I have arrived. I am present, here and now to guide this group. All that life has presented to me I must offer into my class.
I taught with mindfulness, focused on breath, my awareness on the center, alignment and balance. This practice is a meditation for the students and in teaching I am also in a state of meditation. Do they know this? I find my own center by guiding others.
My secret to my community of students is this: you are like a rock in my life.
Sometimes, life unfolds on the mat and as a community, life is shared; masks are removed. Sometimes we see one another's expressions of hurt, sadness, fear, anger, love or compassion. Sometimes we wear a cloak, disguising ourselves. I find that in this practice of Inner Core Chi the inner workings of life unfold and the energy within my mind, body and spirit shift.
Since the first diagnosis, life has unfolded in many ways. Marcus and I had to discuss what life would be like in the future if I were to become a single mother and Sebastien were to be raised without his Papa. We had to consider whether I still wanted to have another child, potentially raising two alone. We decided that life goes on and we could not stop living even with the tragic news. We decided to move forward by banking Marcus' sperm so that Sebastien could have a sibling and our family grow to what we had dreamed of.
But after further medical tests we received a new diagnosis of Non-Hodgkins Follicular B-cell Lymphoma, which has a statistically better prognosis. The numbness ceased and my tears were overwhelming. Marcus came out openly about his diagnosis, announcing it to his friends. Now it was my turn. I stepped into work at the Jewish Community Center and told my extended family one by one. I felt the news needed to come from me, that others needed to hear my voice and my struggles. It was time for me to ask for help. I realized that as we moved forward I could not do this alone and I needed the support from those who could somehow give unconditionally. Our family needed the strength of our community, family, friends and extended family.
Asking for help does not come easy for me. But I have asked others to help me make decisions, to support me, to make me take a walk outdoors. I have also asked others to support me and empathize but not give sympathy. I needed a sense of normalacy in my work. The sympathy seems to just sadden me and I need to see the beauty this life event has bittersweetly brought into our lives. It has brought us closer, made us be realistic and helped bridge our community of friends and family closer in this time. For myself, exercise never ceases; it keeps me in sync with the ebbs and flow of life, makes me feel alive, puts me in nature.
I need to see the beauty this life event has bittersweetly brought into our lives.
The hardest part has been cooking. Marcus and I used to love to cook together and his zest for creating in the kitchen has taken a hiatus. I carry on by staying focused on balance making sure that I exercise daily, and each week I meet a friend for lunch, call my best friend, remain connected with my clients both personally and professionally. I go to work even when I feel like I would rather cry in bed, cuddle with my son, and talk with my husband. I have also taken time to have massages and acupuncture to relieve stress. Is there really this much time? Somehow, there is!
As I continue to teach, I have vaguely shared to my students that over the next six months I may be absent from teaching time to time so that they do not worry but know that I am taking care of myself and my family. My secret to my community of students is this:you are like a rock in my life. To teach you brings me ultimate presence; it offers me a sense of balance. I am not afraid to be vulnerable, to take off my mask and reveal my excitement, joy, fears or tears.
So when I see you tomorrow, or the next day, or next week, remember that I am human, that you are human. Now my mask is removed, be true and be who you are: my rock.
Seeking your Financial Support
Since Marcus was diagnosed with cancer he has sought out alternative therapies to support him prior to receiving chemotherapy. The supplements alone have exceeded $700 per week and have fortunately built up his strength and immune system to be able to handle the chemotherapy. Additionally, as he and his family searched to find the best treatment, they have spent over $20,000 out of pocket so far. Marcus, wife is currently fighting with the insurance carrier who has denied all medical claims to date exceeding over $100,000. Once this is resolved they expect to incur the maximum deductible costs of $15,000 for 2013. Luckily they were able to find a more comprehensive plan for 2014 with a maximum out of pocket deductible of $12,500. Once the insurance company has fulfilled their obligations, Marcus and Kim will still face medical bills exceeding $47,500 by the end of 2014. In addition, Marcus will be receiving alternative therapies that are not covered by insurance once he has completed his chemotherapy. To cover their medical expenses and these alternative therapies, they are hoping to raise a total of $54,000. We hope to ease their stress of this life-changing event with the support of their extended famlly and friends around the globe.