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Feeling Broken from Our Son’s Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis: Linda’s Story

By Linda M. Wolfe | Featured Contributor

Have you ever felt broken? What are some possible scenarios which may make a person feel broken? Do you think it could be a frightening health diagnosis? Could it be losing one’s job or home? What about coping with the loss of a loved one? Could it be the loss of a relationship or a business? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. How many people do you know seem to lead a perfect life? There are quite few, if any, who have never had a factor which could potentially cause one to feel broken. It is part of being human.

Kintsugi pancreatic cancer story

The tipping point which threatened to shatter my life was our son’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis. All I could think of was the horrifically short life expectancies of people who have received this diagnosis. He had already experienced two years of symptoms prior to this. Our son was only thirty-one years old when he was diagnosed. It can be devastating to lose a family member, particularly from the younger generation. Initially, I lost my desire to eat and my ability to sleep. Pounds as well as hair began to break away from my body.

Kintsugi: Broken and Beautiful

As a career art teacher, it comes naturally to find comparisons between art and our lives.

Imagine our lives as fragile clay pots. What are we to do to pick up the pieces of our lives to enable us to continue? Some pieces are never able to be replaced. Those will leave holes. There are also tiny fragments which splinter away and are perhaps not as necessary or important. Regrouping and gluing oneself back together reveals the cracks and holes. What if those cracks were highlighted with gold? Our learning journey through the rough lessons could be seen as a celebration.

Kintsugi pancreatic cancer story

The clay pot technique of Kintsugi means golden joinery. My previous description of our lives as clay pots is exactly how the Japanese culture repairs their pottery. In fact, a pot which has been broken and has gone through this Kintsugi process is considered more valued than an unbroken pot. This art parallels our broken human lives.

In our lives, we generally have a choice. We may choose to give up and allow our brokenness to go the way of Humpty Dumpty. Or, we may choose to investigate any and all possibilities to permit a continuation of life with a different format.

Having a Growth Mindset

Had our son not received a “c” word diagnosis, my life may have simply carried on with the status quo. However, when he received this diagnosis, which could have been my undoing, I was faced with a choice. I could have chosen a fixed mindset, meaning I had no power to change anything, so why try. However, I loved him far too much to do nothing. I chose, instead, to adopt a growth mindset to stack the odds in our favor.

Kintsugi pancreatic cancer story

As a result, I had experiences which helped to piece together my fragments. I may not have become as spiritual. I would have never thought to become an energy healing practitioner if he hadn’t become ill. I may not have had experiences of oneness with everything.

He chose to accept most, but not all, of the Western medical treatments offered him. He also welcomed my healing work. He attributed the energy work for his longevity. I also believe he would not have been with us nearly as long if he hadn’t had the traditional medical help.

A Continuing Journey

Our son ended up living nearly nine years from the onset of his first symptoms of pancreatic cancer.

Since his passing, I would not have been as aware of messages from beyond the veil if our beloved son was not on the other side. I would have not started a blog. These have become some of the golden highlights in my life journey thus far.

Our cracks and broken natures can become things of beauty when valued as part of our path, just as a treasured Kintsugi vessel. Below is a beautiful and brief video of the Kintsugi process.

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.

Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
Linda M. Wolfe
Linda M. Wolfe

A National Board Certified elementary art teacher, Linda M. Wolfe also taught talented and gifted classes during her thirty year career. National art teacher magazines, School Arts and Arts and Activities, as well as E.P.I.C Conscious Living Magazine have published some of her articles. She enjoys composing poetry, particularly sonnets. The Iowa Poetry Association’s anthology, Lyrical Iowa, has annually chosen one of her poems for publication for well over two decades. During her son’s illness, she earned the title of Chios Master of Healing Consciousness (CMHC) Practitioner. She is currently querying agents with her memoir manuscript.

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11 replies »

  1. Cancer is on my dad’s side of the family. My dad and his oldest brother passed away from pancreatic cancer over 20 years ago. One of my cousins also recently passed away just a couple months ago. I am absolutely amazed at hearing the 9 years your son lived from the time he had symptoms. I am very sorry for your loss and appreciate you sharing your story 🙏🏼

    • Oh, juliearahm, you have my sympathy for having lost two from that horrific disease, plus a cousin. Yes, upon hearing our son’s diagnosis, I actually saw a house of cards collapse in my mind’s eye. All I could think of was the stories of extremely short lives lost from this illness. He did have an amazing run of years for which we are eternally grateful. Thank-you so much for your condolences.

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