I could tell you every minuscule detail about where I was on this September 11th, 20 years ago… how I watched one of the darkest tragedies unfold in front of my eyes in real time. How I feared for the lives of my family members living and working in New York City. How I admired and continue to honor the brave NYPD officers, FDNY firefighters, first responders, relief workers and victims for their courage and selflessness.
But i’ve already done that for 20 years. And as the saying goes, nothing changes if nothing changes… right?
You might be wondering why I’m penning a 9/11 post on a blog that’s supposed to be about cancer… well, if I think back on my life, and really ponder the moments that have profoundly changed my life, my mind immediately goes back to my cancer diagnoses, my first intuitive reading with psychic medium Kim Russo (also about 20 years ago), and watching a live stream, in horror, of the second plane, United Airlines flight 175, hitting the South Tower of the World Trade Center, then watching that same building fall, like legos crumbling in slow motion on TV, before the broadcast reporters could even comment on what we were all seeing.
My experiences with cancer inspired this blog. My experiences with Kim Russo and mediumship sparked a life-long dedication to spiritual practice and growth, which has played a pivotal role in my healing. Writing this blog has also helped me and many others heal… so that just leaves 9/11…
The events leading up to and following the 9/11 attacks, to me, very closely resemble a cancer we’ve yet to cure… we also haven’t found a way to stop its spread.
Yesterday I watched a five-hour documentary on Netflix about 9/11 and the history of war in Afghanistan… the longest war in our country’s history, which culminated in the country’s takeover by the Taliban in these last few weeks. Yes, I lived through all of this, and every detail of these events — from my own perspective — will be embedded in my brain forever. But to me, 20 years later, that feels like a very self-serving way to remember a moment that changed the world.
And maybe that’s why, 20 years later, we’ve been unable to contain the spread of this more common yet clearly underestimated cancer that has continued to wreak havoc on so many more lives… the generations of people who were alive to witness the attacks still struggle with the permanent trauma and long-term physical and mental health effects. To try to eradicate this cancer, we’ve put others in harm’s way and have lost so many in the name of… what exactly? 20 years later, I’m not sure if I know anymore.
What this day 20 years ago didn’t teach us was how to survive in a world forever changed by a socioeconomic and politically driven cancer.
Scientifically speaking, our physical human bodies all possess cells that have the potential to become cancerous. Research has shown us some of the reasons why certain cancers develop, and certainly advances in cancer treatment have proven effective, but they all come with the potential for new health risks, a recurrence of the original cancer or a secondary cancer.
And while these strides have been significant, we are no closer to an absolute cure for cancers of the body.
But what about cancers of the mind and the soul that bleed out into the world if not treated? What research have we done to stop its spread, mutation and power to kill?
None of us — not even world leaders who we’ve been programmed to believe have the power to cure these kinds of intangible cancers — are given a handbook on life. And we certainly weren’t given all the facts leading up to Tuesday, September 11, 2001. For the last two decades, we have continued to fight, and we believed with each step that it was the right step toward a societal cure. We forgot that just like treatments for physical cancers, most treatments, even if they keep cancer at bay for a period of time, can cause new challenges or the return of old ones.
Somehow, in the process, we’ve overlooked the simple lesson that when you fight fire with fire, all you get is a whole lot of smoke.
Historically speaking, there shouldn’t be much debate over the fact that one president’s decision will fall into the hands of the next president, whose job is to follow through on it, or to course correct. However, we’ve instead spent the last two decades debating who has made the right or wrong decisions, as if anyone had any answers, or a magic bullet (pun intended), to solve our problems and make everything wonderfully blissful again, or as if we could go back in time and undo it… the saying also goes, ignorance is bliss.
While this may be difficult for some to agree with, most Americans take for granted our luxury and privilege to have been born into a society that believes in freedom and the laws that uphold such freedom and luxury… a society that encourages women, the disabled, the sick and basically anyone not resembling a white man, to fight for themselves and rally for others. Maybe, more of us as a collective haven’t taken the time to look outside the American bubble and really learn about how other societies live and struggle… and maybe, that’s why instead of coming together to solve really complex problems — like treating or even curing societal cancers — we’ve continued to point fingers and accuse individuals or groups of individuals of being at fault.
In our efforts to treat, we’ve identified new ways to remove the tumors, but just like a cancer of the body, all it takes is one tiny microscopic cell to be missed, leaving it free to travel silently until it finally finds a cozy nesting spot to rest and regain power… and then it often comes back stronger than before, usually in an area that is untreatable, leaving us with a diagnosis of stage 4 incurable cancer.
Is this really what we want for our society? For our children’s futures?
I believe we can all do better than that, and that WE WANT better than that, even if it means slow progress we won’t live to see come to fruition.
Something that I know for sure, that you cannot prove through scientific methods, is that cancers of the body cannot be put into remission through physical treatments alone… there is a necessary mindset that must be part of the treatment equation in order for the patient to beat cancer and thrive though life.
Mind over matter truly does matter. I, and so many other cancer survivors, are living proof.
So how do we begin to tackle this so we can look back 20 years from now and say we didn’t just throw spaghetti at the wall to see if it would stick?
I don’t have the magic answer… but I do know this — you can only be good and feel good when you and others DO good, and DOING good means doing what you know in your heart is right, kind and coming from an intention of love and compassion. Just as we see in scientific cancer research, this still doesn’t mean mistakes won’t happen along the way, or that we won’t fail, but we must remember that our failures are necessary to guide us to the next decision, perhaps a more thoughtful one rife with the lessons of those who tried before us. Our failures are not an opportunity to keep passing the buck and placing blame elsewhere… but they are our chance to look at them and analyze them through a new lens.
If the pioneers of cancer research were afraid to fail, we would not be where we are today with major advances in personalized treatments and unconventional methods that provide benefit and a better quality of life.
In closing, on this day of remembrance I encourage you honor the spirit of those who without thinking put their lives in harm’s way to save another. Who led with their love of humanity in a time of crisis and tragedy. Who didn’t have much time to think before acting, yet still were able to save someone in big, or small, yet meaningful ways. And of those who in the devastating and confusing moments and days that followed, surrounded their neighbors with love, whether they knew them or not, and promised to help each other rebuild.
Going forward, when you look at someone, whether you know them or not, remember there is so much you DON’T know about who they are, where they came from, and why they are the way they are. Instead of silently judging, sit down with people and ask them about themselves, their feelings, their experiences, their fears and their dreams. Put yourself in their shoes for a second. Throw away your fears, step out of your comfort zone and try something unconventional that you aren’t positive will work, but still feels deep in your heart, is right.
Much love to you all, to those we lost on this day 20 years ago, many of whom were never found, and to those around the world we’ve lost every day since to cancers seen and unseen. ❤