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  • Writer's pictureMichi Marosszeky

Founder Michi Marosszeky shares the life journey that led her to create Woven Threads

At Woven Threads, our focus is on lived-experience storytelling because we understand the value of learning from others. Thinking about what we could share with you prior to Christmas, I remembered participating in a program where people talked about the way they mastered overwhelming feelings or stress. Let’s admit that as joyful as the holiday season is, it can have its own difficulties—people without a family, people with too much family, people with estranged families; and then, there are people for whom Christmas is painful and highlights a gaping hole in their life. 


I had my share of stressors this year and didn’t have the capacity to tell my story at that event; so, I‘ll share it with you now. I’ve also realised that it’s been my life-journey that has led me to Woven Threads, and perhaps it’s time for me to share that as well.


Thirty years ago, a friend’s doctor father casually asked me about a lump he noticed in my neck and kindly suggested I should see a doctor as soon as possible. Being young and carefree, I didn’t take it too seriously and didn’t act on it until a few weeks later. Then, my life completely changed forever.  A whirlwind of appointments, a cascade of emotions and utter disbelief and confusion followed. I had Cancer. 


After urgent surgery, my life regained some semblance of normality until I was told that unfortunately not all the cancer had been removed and, probably, it may never be possible to do so. At the time, I didn’t completely understand the implications of this but being young and gung ho, I knew I would beat this. I started meditating, drastically changed my diet, gave up alcohol, coffee and meat. I was determined to live. 


I remember thinking that to live in the moment must be the key to survival and I should learn how to do it. I have to admit that though I’ve given it my best shot, I am still learning. But thankfully with the help of books like Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, the task has been made easier. Just recently, my sister who has returned from living in the States suggested starting a family book club in which we could all read The Power of Now.  As you can imagine, this was not accepted without opposition. Some in the family didn’t think it was such a great idea: don’t have the time, won’t benefit from it or hate self-help books. However, those of us who are reading it are finding it extremely relevant. I had read it before and remember it as being incredibly helpful. The book reminds you of practices you have tried, heard or thought about and reaffirms the value of giving them a go. Now, it just so happened that my sister’s suggestion coincided with my regular yearly cancer check-up. 


Although I am alive, cancer is still my constant companion. Living like this is sometimes more overwhelming than I’d like to admit. I know I’m not alone; I know, there are many people living with incurable illnesses that affect their lives. Often, I feel guilty: surely, just being alive should make me happy, and I should cope with the residual fallout, quietly; after all, it’s a small price to pay for life. But as time passes, I’ve noticed a pernicious pattern forming over the years: an irrefutable stress that traverses my body each time I am tested— twice a year for thirty years. Sometimes, as with this year, the testing can drag on for weeks and weeks: one test; then another, leading to one more which shows something unexpected, which leads to another; and then, just one more until you are no longer the person who has for years (30 years to be precise) managed to retain equilibrium, you become  a bundle of nerves and a quivering mass of anxiety, not from the tests but from the unknown, from waiting to see what life has thrown at you this time. To my mind, the unknown aspects of a long-term illness are its greatest challenge. Being aware that the unknown is my nemeses, I worked extra hard to stay in the moment and try to stop my mind from racing ahead, catastrophizing. I am pretty accomplished at this but I can still fall prey to anxiety. 


In case some of you are struggling with a similar situation, I’ll share  the tools that I’ve found helpful. 


Being one of three sisters, I’m lucky enough to have two sources of support and help. This time, it was Sister Number 2 who reminded me of the value of journaling, so I added this to my already established nightly meditation routine. During the day, whenever I felt my breathing shorten, I’d add a guided meditation to my tools and read The Power of Now. This book is a powerful reminder to continually be in the present moment. I also made sure I attended my yoga classes regularly; and, most importantly, I tried to be kind to myself and see the beauty in each day. 


Since I’ve been told my cancer could not be treated I’ve tried to appreciate the wonder and beauty of the world. I gaze at golden rays of light as they glisten on early morning leaves; I wonder at the voluminous cotton wool clouds as they slowly sail across the sky, morphing into their exquisitely sculpted forms, teasing the imagination. It is a game, a very serious game of being in the moment. Try it and you’ll be rewarded by hope and beauty in a world that can at times feel absent of both. Hope keeps our hearts beating and allows joy to tiptoe in. Without hope we have nothing.


I hope that some of these strategies may help you through the holiday period. If you have tools that work for you remember to use them; if not, why not give some of these a try.


Happy Holidays!


Michi



Lifeline provides 24-hour crisis counselling, support groups and suicide prevention services. Call 13 11 14, text 0477 13 11 14 or chat online.


Beyond Blue aims to increase awareness of depression and anxiety and reduce stigma. Call 1300 22 4636, 24 hours/7 days a week, chat online or email.


13 Yarn national crisis support line for mob who are feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty coping, staffed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people. Call 13 92 76.




 



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