2nd Circular Letter, April 2009

Dear friends,

Spring is approaching and it is time for my next letter to all of you with an update on how I am doing. MUCH BETTER!

I have completed my series of radiation treatments. They were 29 sessions in all, spread over seven weeks, the last session on February 26th. This was quite an ordeal as the whole abdominal cavity was radiated, so of course it also affected healthy cells in bladder, vagina and bowels. For several weeks I was dealing with quite uncomfortable side effects. Plus your energy gets completely depleted, so I basically vegetated and got through the days by watching soaps on TV and reading biographies Marieke got me from the library (Eleanor Roosevelt, Indira Ghandi, Fidel Castro, Empress Frederik, Michael Moore, Emperor Hirohito, ABBA …)

The wonderful thing is that once the radiation treatments are over, you can feel your energy come back, you feel a little stronger every day, and although it takes patience and does not happen all at once, the side effects do subside. So slowly I feel I am coming back into life, the physical pains and discomforts do not take all my focus and attention, and I am starting to enjoy many things again.

We spend most of our time in our office/home in Zandvoort aan Zee and I love my daily walks on the beach, every morning the light, the waves, the sand, the sky, the sea shells look different.

The health care system in The Netherlands is very different from what I was used to in Germany, for instance the concept of rehabilitation clinics is not practiced here, so basically I have created my own “Kurort” and rehabilitation program. Living beside the ocean is definitely doing me loads of good and I have found several body and energy work practitioners in Amsterdam supporting my recovery, so I usually spend two days per week in Amsterdam to attend sessions in shiatsu, reflexology, kinesiology, cranio sacral etc. Plus a lot of health rituals that have become daily practice at home, including some that aim at getting to the cause of my cancer. Recovering and convalesing keeps you busy! (and Marieke too, although she has now gone back into the labor market, see below). But I am really learning to pace myself and keep a lot of rest and quiet time in my days.

I feel that I am beginning now to enjoy the silver lining of the whole process. Having your life turned upside down also brings a lot of freedom. I think for the first time in my life I have no plans and no goals aside of getting well. It is a very unfamiliar place for me, not to have a mission, a project or wanting to implement or achieve something. Just being with the not knowing and letting it unfold. And this brings me joy! And I generally feel quite confident and optimistic.

Marieke has decided to take on a regular job again and she landed herself one in urban development (four days a week) she is quite happy with in the municipality of Almere, a new-town in a polder near Amsterdam that they extracted out of the IJsselmeer in the seventies. She is in charge of evaluating the municipal housing programs and feels that her brains can be well put to use as the municipality is quite progressive and open to issues of sustainability. So our business M&M will be going on more on the side and not be so central any more. How much I still want to get involved in it I do not know. We were not very happy in how it was developing, the interesting projects being either unpaid or underpaid. Both Marieke and I are not exactly entrepreneurially inclined and somehow the concepts and visions on urban and social policy we were developing did not land very well in the Dutch culture. The concept of self help and community development, although talked about quite a lot, do not seem to be really intended, the political will for real implementation is lacking. The social worker/welfare system and establishment is way too strong and professional culture is all pervasive. And I have let go of wanting to “reform” Holland! So how much we still engage in M&M we will see.

Two things that arise for me at the moment when I look into myself and ask what I want to do are uncluttering and being in contact with friends. So that is basically what I am doing these days. The uncluttering goes very slowly and systematically, it is wonderful to have the time to do it. The network of family and friends that have been rallying around us from near and from far and giving us support is truly heart warming and fulfilling!!

Thank you all for staying so close, for keeping me in your minds and emotions, and for your continuing support, thoughts, prayers, inquiries, healing, energy, light, letters, cards, mails, flowers, gifts, advice, contacts and information. I feel very blessed and touched with the friendship and connectedness I have experienced throughout the process of the last months.

Do remember that we have a guest room in our Amsterdam flat and enjoy having visitors!!!

To my EU3 Ridwhan group I want to express my thanks for holding me in group meditation and for the wonderful group card(s) you sent me. It was great fun to read every individual message and see each one of you before my inner eyes. I am intending to join the next retreat again and look forward to seeing all of you in person again.

Lots of love!!!

Monika