Buffalo Soldier

You could say it was a bad news/good news kinda day.

It's taken me three months to write about it because it’s taken me that long to get my head around the topic, a mind-altering and hugely transformative experience. 

And it arrived one evening in a text. 

I read it just hours after being told that my kidney cancer had metastasized into my lungs, a prognosis that came with a timeline that landed with a crashing thud into our lives. After meeting with the doctors, Tracey and I drove directly to her parents’ to let Gams know. I dropped her off and went to grab a chai latte and some alone time before going back to talk to the family. We had a short visit and went home. 

I was lying on our bed—never mind the cancer, a bulging disc in my back was killing me — and I picked up my phone to see a text from my friend Avnish. It’s a good thing I was lying down. When the shock wore off, I realized it was setting me off down a path that is going to be my Pazopanib pill’s best partner in battling my cancer.

I showed Tracey the text and we just stared at each other for a minute.  Avnish knew I had cancer in my lungs before my oncologist knew.  Try to understand that one...

I called him, beginning to realize that a whole world of mindfulness and meditation was waiting for me to explore.  Avnish reminded me of something that I already knew deep down--everything is connected. There is an energy in the world that I can use to fight the cancer. 

Later that week Avnish and I sat down in a coffee shop and talked for three hours. Three hours that felt like three minutes.  He is an incredible source of positivity, I always knew that. But I didn’t know how deep his well of experience is. Avnish has been mindful for 30 years and has a very strong understanding of meditation and its powers. I am a lucky man because he was willing to take the time to guide me.

After we talked, I was way more keen to take the Mindfulness program offered by the Tom Baker Cancer Institute. I was ready to pay more attention to the 20 per cent of the time that we are actually in the here and now.  I was ready to explore the calm that comes with being in the moment. I started truly understanding that this was a path I should be on.  

As I read Avnish’s text that night, I remembered telling myself ages ago that I should spend more time meditating, but I was too busy to get to it. After listening to Avnish explain how he knew there were clouds over my lungs, I realized I could work on my own energy. Everything is connected. Full stop.  

Avnish has given me the gift of being in the moment. And for every moment going forward I am thankful.  When I texted him back that he was the Grand Poobah of the Royal Order of Buffalos I was kinda kidding. But we’re not kidding when we say we’ve decided that Avnish's spirit guide is the Buffalo, a magnificent beast that symbolizes abundance and manifestation. 

Thank you my friend.

Painting by Tracey Seagram. Model: Avnish Mehta.

Painting by Tracey Seagram. Model: Avnish Mehta.

Professional Hugger

Round number two