There are a few distinct moments that changed my life forever…

Clearly, one was the day I was born. Another was when I was 20 and moved myself to California not having a job, not knowing a soul, but having a dream. Another was on May 29th, 2017… the day when Little Miss, my dearest friend and companion of 35 years, crossed over from this life into the next. That one cut deep into my soul and literally shifted my personal world off its axis; it’s been a journey for the last two years to find my new normal. But this most recent one… well, it qualifies as the SINGLE MOST shocking and earth shattering moment of my entire life.

On August 8th, I received news I NEVER EVER imagined I would hear about myself in this lifetime or any other. It was the moment when my doctor said (in so many words), “Lisa, you have cancer.”

Um… please put the world on hold for a moment while I try and digest what you just said since every cell in my being just went numb. Am I breathing? No. So, take a breath, Lisa.

“What?” I said to her over the phone, struggling to even speak.

“Yes, unfortunately, it looks like you have a mass on your left ovary. I need you to call the oncology department as soon as possible.”

Okay. For those of you who know me… I’m pretty sure you can feel what those words did to me in that moment. I can hardly bear to write these words nearly a month later, because there simply are NO WORDS for the emotions that immediately filled my entire being in that single—and now THE MOST SIGNIFICANT—moment of my life.

Me, Lisa Brisse…. CANCER??????????? Did I hear you correctly? I am sorry but WTF are you talking about?????? This does NOT compute with anything that I identify as me!!!! I just trekked 15,000+ mountains in Peru in June. I teach my spinning classes a few times a week. I teach health and well-being. This is what I DO! But not just what I DO, it’s who I AM! I love life. I take it in to the fullest. I encourage others to do the same. I believe life is magical and miraculous. And as so many others have said upon hearing my news, “but you’re the healthiest person I know!” Um… yeah. That’s what I thought too.

As I said, the thoughts and emotions that immediately followed were understandably rooted in TOTAL FEAR. Thoughts of, “NO! I don’t want to die!!!!!” To, “this can’t be!!!!!!! It just can’t be!!!!!! Not ME!!!!! NO NO NO! I’m Lisa Brisse! Lisa Brisse does NOT have cancer!!!!!!” Total, 100% certifiable panic.

I found myself frantically calling the immediate people who needed to know but not just for their sake, mainly for mine. I needed some immediate comfort and reassurance in this, the single most scary moment of my entire life! I called my mom and I called my dad. I called a few of my closest friends… and with each one I found myself crying—wailing at times—yelling from the top of my lungs, yet the deepest part of my soul, “NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! I have NO intention of leaving this planet anytime soon!!!!!!! I have too much to do! Too much life to live! I don’t want to die!!” And then my mind would go blank for a bit… that time when you officially enter into Numbsville. It’s when a strange and eerie calm overcomes you and there is a small, yet strong inner voice that whispers, “It’s going to be okay.” But that lasts for just a few moments before the mind quickly grabs onto FEAR, because that’s what it knows and LOVES to do and sends you once again into hysterics while getting slammed with visions of one’s worst nightmare. I mean cancer isn’t one of those “gentle” diseases. At least that’s not how it strikes me. No. To me, it feels like an angry SOB that grabs you by the neck and says, “Listen up… I’ve got you. You’re mine and I dare you to even try and get your body—or your life—back, because from now on… I’m in charge. I call the shots.”

And then again… the pendulum unexpectedly swings back on the emotional spectrum to that soft, calm yet wiser inner voice… the one I choose to lean into and believe…. “you’re going to be okay.”

Step right up, Ladies and Gentlemen, to the greatest emotional roller coaster ride ever made! Buckle up because here we go…

Here I am, nearly a month from that fateful day and fateful moment and so much has happened in that time, it literally makes my head spin…. and unfortunately not in a “Spinning class” type of way. In fact, Spinning has not been a part of my life since that day. Nor has any resemblance of my normal everyday life that I was living… training my clients, teaching my classes, going for my daily walks in the park in Santa Monica. Nope. Nothing similar.

Instead? The last four weeks of my life have been weeks I will never forget (though I’d like to)… weeks filled with oncology appointments at UCLA Medical Center, testing (CT & PET scans), procedures (getting three pounds of fluid drained from my abdomen that was causing my right lung to partially collapse), to full on surgery on August 22nd… a complete hysterectomy that extracted the cancerous (Stage 2) ovarian tumor successfully (the “best possible outcome” according to my surgeon, Dr. Sanaz Memarzedah, MD, PhD), to a horrendous week in the hospital that included three days of being on an IV (my intestines were so shut down from the anesthesia that nothing was moving through), to an epidural for pain management, and a catheter to top it off.

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Mom and dad helping me on my ever-so-important, yet difficult walks through the hallway. My body didn’t feel like my own. I am SO grateful for them being there as well as all of my friends. I couldn’t have made it without them.

 

It’s safe to say that these were some of the worst days of my life. I had moments that challenged my greatest positivity—and those of you who know me know this is what I’m all about—as well as my deepest faith in all things spiritual. In one completely surrendering moment, all I could muster was, “Dear God… Help me.” I truly wondered how I would make it through.

My dear friend, Kathleen, doing Reike on me a day after surgery.

My dear friend, Kathleen, doing Reike on me a day after surgery.

For a person who has lived her life feeling strong, healthy, and so reliant and always confident in my body—even in my most physical, self-imposed challenging times of triathlons, marathons, and trekking mountain passes—these lonely moments in the hospital were a whole other realm of challenge. Because this time, the one thing that had always been there for me—my body—wasn’t recognizable. It felt foreign. Far from safe, which was so disorienting because ever since I was a kid, my body was literally “home” to me. It was strong. We could do anything together and we were always up for the challenge. Anything physical was fair game. But in addition, my body was my lifelong friend, my protector… always something I could rely on. Yet here I was in the hospital and things just felt terribly wrong. Despite the presence of my parents and my dear friends, which I am SO incredibly grateful for, I still was beyond scared. I was afraid for me and I was afraid for my body. I couldn’t help but question, “What happened? I was just going about my life. How did I get here?” Especially in what felt like such a short time. I was living in the Twilight Zone. Horrific.

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Getting better… walking outside of Ronald Reagan UCLA medical center with Mom.

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Just before I was released from the hospital on August 29th, I was visited by the UCLA therapy pony. I think Little Miss had something to do with that. :)

Our Body is a Miracle…

Again, for anyone who knows me, you know what I teach and preach. Our body IS a miracle. In fact, it is the most miraculous entity in the Universe that we pretty much take for granted every single second of our life. I can never believe how, no matter what our body can go through, it is programmed on the tiniest molecular level to heal. How does it do it? I don’t know. But that’s what it does. We cut ourselves and we don’t think twice; we know the cells of our body get right to it and before we know it, it’s healed… like the cut was never there. Clearly for me, a 6-inch vertical incision in my abdomen is no small cut. And yet, slow but surely, it is healing, as I assume is true for all that I can’t see on the inside.

It’s been just over a week since I was released from the hospital (August 29th), and I have been slowly resting and repairing, one day and moment at a time. I truly am in awe. How did I get well enough to get out of that hospital? I don’t even know. There was the mental challenge of having to endure the pain and discomfort in the LONG eternal moment when your mind wonders if this will ever get better. And yet…

With the incredible help and support of so many in my life, I am managing and healing through this first phase of my recovery. And apparently, it is just the first phase. There is more to come in this journey with cancer. I can hardly even say or write the word, but I have to. For whatever reason, it’s now a part of my story, like it or not. I don’t like it, but as many of you know, I also don’t believe things just happen, and this is no different.

How did I get cancer?  I have my theory that make sense to me and I will share my insights in my next blog, Part 2. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I appreciate any positive healing vibes you want to send along! Hold me in that future moment in time where cancer is a part of my past and I’m sharing all of my gifts and newfound wisdom from this profound experience. Thank you for your love and support!!! What a journey…

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August 5th, 2019 before I was aware of any of this. I’m going to choose to remember the calm, quiet, wise inner voice within… Remembering that in our Truth, all is well.

 

By the way, my friend and colleague, Gigi Sutila, has arranged a Gofundme page to help with the upcoming medical bills and other expenses due to loss of work while I recover. If interested, here is the link:

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