A Heart-Warming, Mind-Stretching Reunion
It has been 15 years since the most difficult summer of my life: My Cosmic Hammer—my experience with ovarian cancer when I was 21 years young.
Today marks the anniversary of the day, 15 years ago, when I was set free from the Saskatoon Cancer Centre after 9 weeks of intensive chemotherapy to fly back to the States to finish my fourth year of university. I’ve been all clear ever since, of course. And, thus, it had been about 13 years since the last time I saw my oncologist.
At my two-year post-chemo checkup, he gave me a high five, and said, “If it hasn’t come back by now, it won’t.” And that was it.
Fully discharged from followup appointments at the Saskatoon Cancer Centre.
So when my mom told me she wanted to gift a copy of my memoir titled My Cosmic Hammer about my experience with ovarian cancer to my oncologist, I had a mind freak out that sounded a bit like…
“Holy shit! What is he going to think about my book? He’s going to think I’m absolutely crazy.”
“What if I didn’t remember the technical details correctly?”
“What if I didn’t know what I was talking about?”
And lastly, "I guess he's going to find out that dad drank some of my clean-out juice." LOL
Well, shit, I already published the damn thing almost two years ago, so what the hell does it matter now, right?!
It’s wild how the mind still throws us those fear curveballs when we feel vulnerable. The things our mind chucks at us are pretty mind-blowing. Like, come on. It was MY experience that I wrote about. Of course my oncologist is going to have a different memory and perspective of the experience if he even remembers at all.
Anyways, in order to gift him the book, my mom invited him and his wife to my parents’ house for a visit. Ballsy, I thought, but that’s my mom. And to my surprise, they agreed. So I cleared my schedule to be there as well.
Now for a backstory, we had literally never had a conversation with my oncologist unless it was in hospital, at the cancer centre, or in his medical office as an appointment focused on my health.
My mom is very conversational, so she would ask him personal questions during his checkups while I was in hospital. And 21 year old me was like, “Mommmmm, stoppppp. 🙈 He doesn’t need to answer that.” Nevertheless, she persisted.
Fast forward to July 2022, and we anxiously awaited his arrival at my parents’ house. I wasn’t sure how to feel. So many memories flooded my mind. The fear of sitting in the cancer clinic, the feel of warmed hospital blankets, the beeping of chemo machines, the hospital wallpaper, the high five he gave me at my two year checkup.
Finally, they arrived, and he had hardly changed. His voice sounded exactly as I’d remembered it. It was as if we hadn’t skipped over a decade.
It was such a special visit. We got to know the person behind the doctor role. We met his wife for the first time ever. We learned about his family, his hobbies, pets, and more. And my husband got to meet the doctor he has heard so much about over the years.
As our conversation went on, it was neat what memories came to the surface:
He vividly remembered details about my surgery, my case, my treatment. From 15 years ago. Of course, I remember everything. But to be a doctor who sees many patients every week and still remember one case from 15 years prior was mind boggling for me.
My mom recalled how Dr Giede checked on me frequently after my surgery, then called again later that night after he left the hospital, and came in first thing in the morning again. He nodded and agreed that he remembered that then stated that because it was such a huge surgery that he wanted to keep a close eye on me.
It was hard not to have some tears well up in my eyes after hearing that. I didn't know my surgery was huge. I didn't know that at the time nor did I know that it when he said that. Sure, it was major surgery, but people have major surgeries all the time. I didn't think it was the most important thing for my oncologist to be worried about. Apparently, I was wrong.
I remembered one checkup of him where he’d had his arm in a cast, which he was surprised I remembered.
I mentioned how he was going to find out that dad drank the clean-out juice before my surgery when I couldn't get it down, and we all had a good laugh.
He told us about the time when he had a message passed on from his receptionist years later that “Kristin Peterson is pregnant.” This may sound weird, but I had an ovary removed due to ovarian cancer, then had chemotherapy. So while he’d always said I’d be able to have kids, it’s one of those confirmations that you kind of hold your breath for.
It was pretty neat to get to discuss these memories, and be surprised that everyone remembered the experiences so vividly so many years later.
Explaining who Dr Giede was to the kids took a few attempts, but it was pretty special to have them there to introduce to him, even if they didn’t fully understand why they were such an important part of this story yet.
We had the most wonderful visit, then my mom brought out my memoir along with a set of my six children’s books to gift to him and his wife. I felt so nervous.
I guess I was judging myself and their reaction before it even occurred.
Well, both of them were very intrigued, and showed a ton of interest as they flipped through the books—sparking conversations about the inner self, creativity, and MindScape, psychology, and more.
Then Dr Giede asked me if publishing books is my full-time job, so it was time for me to explain Inner Compass Academy, along with BodyTalk and MindScape. This is where I felt nervous and incredibly judgmental of myself.
I have a very strong, logical left brain. I was very skeptical and judgey about BodyTalk and MindScape when I first got into it because I couldn’t see how it fit with Western Medicine. But I’ve realized that it doesn’t need to fit into the Western medical model. It can’t, because the Western medical model doesn’t look at the whole person like BodyTalk does—it looks at all of the parts and systems of the body or of the mind separately. www.innercompassacademy.com/bodytalk
MindScape is a two-day seminar based in Jungian psychology where we dive into the subconscious mind to upgrade and rewrite the mental programming of the mind. It's a fun, playful way to adventure into the depths of the mind in a way that de-stresses the bodymind while shedding light on our limiting programs to bring awareness and, thus, personal empowerment to the surface, unleashing the possibilities once we open our minds, stretch our comfort zones, and allow ourselves to wonder, imagine, and dream. www.innercompassacademy.com/mindscape-online
To my surprise, he was totally receptive.
As if I had any understanding of what his perspective would be. Why would I think that I did? Because he’s a doctor? That was based on a lot of unconfirmed assumptions. 🤦🏼♀️ I don’t know this man. Why would my brain tell me I know what he’s thinking. What a crock of crap!
He mentioned that he had recently read the book called The Body Keeps the Score that was recommended by a colleague, and mentioned how he’s beginning to understand how our experiences, thoughts and emotions have a pretty significant impact on our physical health.
I just about had to pick my jaw up off the floor.
I was blown away. Wow, that conversation went much differently than I had imagined in my mind.
You guys, this is called projection. I was projecting my OWN limiting belief systems about the closed-mindedness of medical professionals towards a holistic perspective of the bodymind. And here this almost 60 year old gynaecological oncoloigist and surgeon blew my own limiting bullshit up into the sky like fireworks. 🎆
How freaking amazing is that?!
Mind-stretching experiences that knock your socks off and leave your jaw on the floor--whether that's from being in awe of incredible talent, witnessing raw vulnerability, or having your expectations blown out of the water, or your limiting thoughts shredded by your reality--are my all-time absolute favourite experiences!
This visit was very special for lots of reasons, but I left with a warm, full heart after having connected with someone who played a huge role in that summer and my cosmic hammer experience 15 summers ago, connecting with his wife, and having a healing and heart-warming visit for all of us.
I am happy to still be here. I've got lots of love left to give, lots left to do, experience, be, and create, and more room to grow, stretch, and become.
Thank you, Dr. Giede and Carol, for accepting an invitation to come visit some near strangers after so many years. And thank you, Dr. Giede for stretching my mind. Thank you, Carol for being so excited about my books and donating them to your favourite library.
Thank you, Mom, for orchestrating this special, heart-warming reconnection, and for everything that summer, before then, and since.
Thank you, Dad, for helping me all those years ago drink the clean out juice and for sneaking me food when I was starving on cream fluids 48 hours post-op.