I felt like the prince Siddhartha leaving the palace and entering the real world. It was if I was seeing suffering for the first time.

After a cozy, wintery week end at home mostly nested up close to the fireplace, several meals of simple, healthy foods and a couple of decent movies from Netflix I was now walking the halls of Touro hospital on the way to get a CAT scan. I had been diagnosed with Uterine cancer just days past the holidays – barely into the new year.

All medical tests of the past several weeks had indicated normal to good health. Blood work, urine samples, lung and kidney function – all good. Sometimes the nurses even said great. I carried my small cache of supplements and herbs for review by the various doctors (all with a  little bit of pride at how little “medicine” I needed as a 60  year old woman). Previously  I had always checked  “no” straight done down that medical history list in every doctors visit – rare that they were.

Then came the results of the biopsy. Cancer cells in the Uterus.

Entering Touro with trepidation on what a CAT scan might reveal I was instantly confronted with humanity and the suffering of so many. Suffering in some cases it seemed  that some had endured for a lifetime. Elderly people sitting alone in their wheelchairs. And others with missing limbs, painful obesity, limps, shuffles, breathing apparatus.

I was upright, ambulatory, on the arm of my loving and beloved partner.

Still ….. I had cancer.

But I wasn’t alone. Not even if Anna Maria hadn’t been there with me could I be.

I was no longer special in my diagnosis and body aches, and somehow that comforted me. Loosened the fear and lessened the pain.

Days later reviewing the CAT scan results with the Oncolgist OB/GYN surgeon I fell into a small tirade of “why me?” With a even measure of compassion and straight talk she looked at me and said, “ It’s just bad luck. We’re all going to get something.”  And strange as it might seem that comment later made me smile.

We’re all going to get something.

I have to let go of my pride in having beat the odds these past 60 years. The check list at the doctors office will now include surgery, cancer, recovery, medications.

I don’t have to be the impervious, always healthy Tai Chi teacher.

I am simply a human being.