From cancer to chronic illnesses, one woman tenaciously rises from the ashes of her life challenges and reveals a long-hidden gift: she is a psychic medium
Over 1500 days ago, I thought I was going to die. I not only received a dreaded diagnosis that felt like life had dealt me a poor hand of Texas hold ‘em, but on top of that, it was like I had won the grand prize in one of the rarest death sweepstakes of all. But this wasn’t a card game, this was my life.
In 2015 I was diagnosed with sarcoma, an uncommon type of cancer found in fewer than 200,000 people in the United States. Out of its exceedingly many variants, I had soft tissue sarcoma in my anal and gluteal muscles. I had a ticket for a lethal raffle I didn’t voluntarily purchase.
This devastating news came less than two years after marrying my one and only, Nick. At the time, I was in ecstasy, dreaming away and formulating a ‘Life List’ of stupefying goals we set out to accomplish. We had it all planned out. This wasn’t a part of the plan.
Out of the blue, I was knocked to the ground by a jab to my jaw that said “Whoa, wait a second, fasten your seatbelt. You’re going to need it for what’s ahead.”
With my life completely turned upside down, I came to understand that all I had taken for granted was just as fragile as our human existence, as ephemeral as the numbered days we have on this planet.
It’s in those moments that hit you like a ton of bricks that you do a life scan. You finally recognize an array of little things which are actually so undeserving of your attention — and yet, they had been pulling you away from what is truly important. Don’t sweat the little stuff because life is now! There is no time to waste on trifles — the resentments, the grievances, the limited thinking, the feelings of unworthiness, etc.
Forget about overly planning or constantly dwelling on the past, the secret is living the present to the fullest because the present is the present.
With a single diagnosis, I felt everything was in shambles. But with the unconditional love and encouragement of my husband, I decided that no matter what, I had the power to create the best of my time with him, and that every moment on this earth would be nothing less than extraordinary. Nothing and no one (and certainly no diagnosis) was going to get in my way.
That said, what came next was no walk in the park. My body began to be emptied out slowly by my illnesses. In total to date, I’ve undergone thirteen surgeries and countless protocols.
Far from feeling sorry for myself or ashamed about my scars, I wear these marks like my badge of honor. They are much more significant than any masters or doctorate degree I could’ve attained. They’re a part of a story that I’m most proud of — proof that after everything I’ve been through, I’m still standing. They also guided me home to unforgotten places and parts of myself.
Through it all, I earnestly trusted that what was happening was no coincidence. I perceived that I had a bigger purpose.
A voice constantly reminded me that I had to carry out this message and not hold back about divulging my story, even when close family members and friends criticized me and judged my actions.
Life can be so unexpected, yet so expected. I’ve always known I’d write a book about my multicolored life. Throughout my childhood I even owned several typewriters — it was just one of the signs. I was preparing even when I didn’t know it.
I considered chronicling my fabulous life adventures and experiences. But as it so often happens, it did not turn out exactly how I had envisioned at the time. There was ‘so much more’ that I had to accomplish before crafting a magnum opus.
Amid the blackout I was living, writing a book was not on my mind at that very moment. All my energy was focused on getting through each day, each medical test and frightening result.
But I was certain this was the most important journey of my life. I didn’t want to forget anything, because I knew that in the future I could touch people’s lives with my story. People who were experiencing the same things I was experiencing could learn from my story and feel a little less alone in their struggles. There was a call within to make meaning of this madness.
While cancer has definitively been the most challenging litmus test, it’s hardly been the only health setback I’ve faced throughout my life. Since 2011 I’ve been in a tug-of-war with a host of autoimmune diseases. First came Hashimoto’s, then lupus and connective tissue disorder in 2015. And then in the two years that followed, autoimmune retinopathy and Rheumatoid Arthritis joined the party, respectively. Not to mention I had pyloric stenosis at birth and nearly died during the surgery; my parents actually baptized me in the surgery room. No one thought I would live. But live I did and I refuse to let my health challenges define me and determine my destiny — and those aren’t just words.
There is ‘so much more’ about a person we often do not know.
Ever since growing up in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, I’ve had a special gift: I was born a psychic medium and I could always communicate with the dead.
It wasn’t easy to accept it because of all of the controversy and conflict surrounding it. I was terribly afraid about how my family would react. I especially feared rejection, particularly being labeled as insane. Keeping my mediumship abilities a secret was the only way I knew how to protect myself, but it harmed me. Hiding it didn’t make it go away. It was the cause of severe anxiety throughout my life, and I never understand why.
On January 23, 2018, four days after celebrating my forty-fifth birthday, MaryAnn DiMarco, another psychic medium, wowed me by corroborating the lifelong suspicion of my gift. It was truly a breath of fresh air, an indescribable feeling of completeness and validation — a homecoming. She had set me free…free to be me in all aspects. After all of the hardships, this opened the door to a series of new and exciting possibilities.
For instance, I could help people reconnect with their loved ones and aid them in finding answers to questions that have haunted them for years, perhaps all of their lives, or bring guidance on a specific issue. With this revelation, I unleashed my life’s purpose from the corners of my life where I had hidden it.
So Much More is immeasurably more than just my personal story. It is a call to action. I urge and encourage people to pursue their passions and ambitions, no matter how big or small. I want to stimulate others to identify what gives meaning to their lives and to have the will and courage to go after it — to recollect the parts of themselves.
It is my wish for people to grab life by the horns, I cannot stress this enough! No one is going to do it for you. No one knows what’s best for you. And yes, that may take some time to figure out, but it’s worth it. Stop and smell the flowers, be grateful for every little moment by cherishing and being thankful for everything you have already. Complaining about what is lacking will only lead you to a trap of victimhood that will paralyze your life. When you put fear, pessimism and negativity out in the Universe, it listens and returns fear, pessimism and negativity your way.
We can choose differently. We can release these emotions and see life through a new lens…even with cancer.
Believe me, I could have easily succumbed to that mentality. It would have been so much easier to have blamed my life circumstances upon bad luck. But ultimately, that would not have been the right decision, that attitude would have never allowed me to discover an invaluable set of tools and mechanisms that I can now share to help guide and empower others. Tools that I still put into practice every day of my life, because my journey is far from over.
My own struggles led me to find the voice which was always meant for me, including creating Artz Cure Sarcoma Foundation to help fund research for this rare and orphan cancer. The sad reality is that there are no drugs in the United States to treat sarcoma because pharmaceutical companies don’t have a financial incentive. What’s more, a lot of valuable information about sarcoma is not covered by the media because it’s not a sexy or well-known cancer.
My medical journey carries on. I am still a patient at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas; I fly there every six months from New York for checkups. I also go to New York University every four weeks to receive intravenous treatment for my rheumatoid arthritis.
Life for me is about treasuring all its moments and finding the upside and beauty even in the tough ones.
It’s balancing the many roles in my life and giving more than my best to everything I do. It’s about showing up for it all. The message is simple: Nothing and no one can stop you from manifesting your dreams and goals; unless of course, that something is YOU. Show up for yourself. There is so much more. Trust me!
You may also enjoy reading From the Eye of the Storm: A Personal Account of Stage 4 Cancer, by Valynda Planeta