TAURUS (April 20 - May 20)This seemed incredibly appropriate at this point in my fight with cancer. The diagnosis with a life-threatening disease had already put me through a mid-life crisis: What is important to me? Have I been leading my life as I should? What would I do differently if I had the chance to start over? I had decided that I needed to focus on my own goals in life and worry less about how quirky and eccentric I appeared to others. I needed to be more of an independent man, acting decisively and forcefully rather than deferring to the decisions of others.
On a family member's 60th birthday, the Japanese celebrate a holiday known as kanreki. It's a time of rebirth, when the celebrant ritually becomes a baby again and enters a second childhood. Among the many gifts given on the occasion is a red kimono, which signifies that in a sense the person is now freed from the responsibilities of adulthood. I recommend that you treat yourself to a similar rite of passage, Taurus. Even though you may not be turning 60, you are at the beginning of an extraordinarily fresh new cycle. You deserve a red kimono and at least a temporary respite from adult burdens.
Going into the hospital for weeks of treatment and months of recovery meant that I should forget about my other worries and focus on my treatment. I hoped that the surgery would mean rejuvenation for me — freedom from cancer and renewed vigor as I start life again but this time with greater wisdom and experience.
I didn't receive a kimono other than a small paper one on the card, but I was dressed in hospital gowns. I suppose that was my garb of kanreki.
After the surgery (which became a series of four, due to complications) I was nearly helpless. I was fed by a machine since I couldn't take food orally. Every day my mother or my girlfriend helped bathe me since I barely had the energy to stand or the muscles to reach my own head and feet. My brain was wiped clean by the chemotherapy drugs and kidney failure; I lost many memories of treatment and earlier times and my intelligence was reduced to that of a toddler. It really was like a second infancy.
As the surgical wounds healed, my body adapted to its new arrangement and my mental abilities gradually returned. Several months later I went back to work and resumed aspects of a normal life. I tried to conduct myself as I had decided I should, but it was hard not to revert to old habits. I still felt embarrassed and uncomfortable around most people and I felt guilty when I worked on my own creative projects rather than spending 9 to 5 at a regular job.
My second infancy was short-lived. Before I had fully recovered from surgeries there were signs that my cancer was returning. I was just making progress along the chosen path of my new life: producing exciting research, applying for a new job to move toward my goal of becoming a college professor, winning an award for my entry in a Science as Art exhibition. But then I had to stop all that to start another debilitating treatment.
I hope that I shall yet get rid of cancer and enjoy a long second (or third) life.