Welcome! I'm glad you're here. I trust you'll find helpful and expansive stuff here, Chris Forsyth.

Dying Gratefully

I’ve got two years left, doctors said if treated.  If not, eight to 12 months. At 83 this is not gloomy news at all. Quite the opposite. The truth is that I will exit gratefully humble, naturally, and fearlessly. This is thanks to the compassionate guidance of my godly yoga Gurus – my initiator and successor – for more than 40 years. 


My medical diagnoses and treatments in January in the hospital dripped into my being, like drops from a leaking tap. Cancer. Prostate. Metastasized. Bone. Chemo. Radiation. Add previous diagnoses of coronary artery disease and diabetes and you’ve practically got the Full Monty. As I read my latest diagnosis, I felt a remarkable equanimity.


Daily meditation, scriptural chanting, breathing in mantras, and other tried and tested yoga practices over half my life led by my spiritual teachers, my beloved Siddhas, have prepared me for this.


No, I didn’t retire to a cave or drop out to do any of this. I’ve led a enjoyable life as a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, newspaper reporter, journalist, writer, devotee, marketing manager, voter, and taxpayer.


I’m driven to share this state of love, completion, and joy I’m feeling in words that adequately convey this place I’m in so that it may help someone, anyone, someday to exit gratefully in time. I’m prompted to do this today after reading a poet’s lament about clocks whose “only purpose” seemingly is to speedily tick the seconds away to what Shakespeare called dusty death. For me, this is a precious time to deepen my connection with the inner light that’s already there; the light deep within my heart and ablaze in all of our hearts that we can see in meditation.


 I love that what now appears to be a dark time is filled with this light and, yes, laughter. I laugh thinking of paying no more taxes. I laugh thinking of no new Putins, Hitlers, Saddams, and the like in my life. I laugh with the birds flying free, with the spotless blue skies above, when I see heart-shaped clouds, when rain drums down, and my wife makes a joke. I laugh as I see myself relearning activities in my old age that I learned when I was a five-year-old


I giggle, for example when doctors say I have two years. This opinion surely derives from the MRI data and other tests gathered during my weeklong stay at the splendid Duke Regional Hospital in Durham NC, and the doctors’ compassion. I know that my date of death is already down in a cosmic record written within two days of my birth, as my Siddha Yoga Master taught, and nothing can add to or subtract from that. 


Picture a frog sunning himself on a lotus lily pad, Floating gently not up, not down, right on top of the clear water. Loving the space and laughing joyfully. The frog is me. 


What’s new is learning to cope with altered circumstances. They gave me Oxycodone for pain which I stopped due to uncomfortable side effects.Tylenol is my choice. I’m adjusting to the impact of all this on the simple activities of daily living (ADLs in nurse jargon) for example; bathing without pain, sleeping – and especially getting up - with the least pain( I corkscrew out of bed now); walking without falling; going to restrooms; getting in out of a car; fetching, carrying, cooking and caring for my wife who has mild dementia. I get breaks when a couple of home care aides take over for a few hours each day. 


I believe that any day I learn something new is a good day. Writing is a means for me to learn. I’ve written books, journalism, TV treatments, radio scripts, and now I’m learning how to address you. So, this too is a good day.


A precious part of all this is knowing that I’m not alone. I’m joined by my own family and by my much larger Siddha Yoga family, a scintillating encirclement of love, good wishes, compassion, empathy, friendliness, and prayers, that feel as tangible as the sustaining gifts of food we receive from those in our immediate vicinity.


Now I’m learning about hot flashes. Or, how to survive the next one. My doctor told me to expect hot flashes in my treatment with hormones that aim to reduce the testosterone which feeds the prostate cancer. Hot flashes? What do I know about hot flashes? This first crept silently in like a misty morning. Soon it got foggier. And then - unexpectedly - wham! Hot flushes? Cold sweats are more like it! Either way, I can commiserate more deeply now with millions of women visited by hot flushes in menopause. 


Susan Dominus in the New York Times(2/13/2023) reports one doctor who sees menopause and hot flashes as a great blind spot of medicine (Another I believe is dementia). It's barely whispered about because it's a kind of castration, just as the chemical castration I'm experiencing with the hormone treatment for prostate cancer eliminating or reducing the testosterone that feeds the cancer. At 83 why should I care? I've got nothing to prove! Apparently women have been historically blindsided by menopause and hot flashes because they haven't gotten enough information. And still they're treated as second-class citizens despite all the progress they achieved in our still paternalistic society. 


It's now a month since a blood test for prostate cancer showed my PSA (prostate specific antigen) count at 2,265 which is sounds monumental when it should be around 1 or less. And now, after a month of treatment with Nubeqa it's down to 44.7. Yesterday I received a shot of Eligard that will carry me on. 


I just came across a book title, Don’t Feel Sorry for Him that speaks for me.


For you who've read this far congratulations for your perseverance. You might also consider watching this space for future blogs. If you have a question or comment please use the form below and I'll do my best to respond.