The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You

I’m excited to share that my PET scan came back with phenomenal results. The melanoma has not spread anywhere new. Of the existing 6 tumors that lit up previously, only 1 tumor showed up on this PET scan, registering at 5mm (down from 1.2cm in May). 5mm is also the smallest measurement a PET scan can pick up. This is the nodule in my right lung. I don’t have pictures of the scans to share with you, but I will tell you that the May PET scan of this nodule and the August PET scan are night-and-day. My oncologist even remarked that they wouldn’t even notice if they weren’t looking for it. The term “remission” was used (more on that in a bit).

I’ve “graduated” from treatment and am now into maintenance treatments for immunotherapy. This means I get an infusion of 1 drug once a month (as opposed to the 2 drugs every 3 weeks during the summer). This will continue for the next 2 years with periodic monitoring (more MRIs, more PET scans, etc.) that will stretch to longer intervals as time passes with more good results.

We are in uncharted territory here. Melanoma is such a bizarre, strange form of cancer that there isn’t a lot of data to draw from to derive clear-cut definitions like “remission.” It’s only been the last 6-7 years that have seen advanced-stage cancer survivors do very well with immunotherapy treatment used against melanoma. There aren’t any stories profiling survivors spanning multiple decades because this is so new. It’s incredible.

I feel more compelled than I was at the start of the summer, to dig into my new routines, and lifestyle. This isn’t a time to rest on my laurels. This is when it’s crucial to dive deeper. More meditation. Keep strong with the diet– better yet, improve it. Add exercise. Eschew the stress of modern-working life (AKA: The American Success Agenda). Less screens, more nature.

My son, Will, has developed a fondness for Spider-Man and we’ve watched Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse a number of times (which also features a diverse and well-reviewed soundtrack). I was watching with him this summer during treatment and so many scenes hit me so differently.

There is a scene where the protagonist, Mile Morales, is told by his team he is not good enough to join them. They all agree that he has potential, but no willful control. Frustrated, and humiliated, he shouts back angry replies only to be forced into an office chair like a toy doll, and then immobilized with the trademark sticky spiderweb fluid. His mentor is leaving him, and with a last gasp Miles manages to cry out:
“When will I know I’m ready?”

His mentor, cutely, uses spiderweb fluid to shut his mouth, and responds:
“You won’t. It’s a leap of faith. That’s all it is, Miles. A leap of faith.”
The mentor leaves, and our hero is bound, and gagged. Powerless and alone.

Later, Mile’s father shows up and addresses his son through the closed door. He sits helpless, forced to listen. They have both been on opposite sides of something traumatic, and the father has no idea his son is involved. The father opens up to his voiceless son, “I see this spark in you. It’s amazing. That’s why I push you, but it’s yours. Whatever you choose to do with it, you’ll be great.” The father closes by telling his son that he loves him but, “you don’t have to say it back.”

Miles sits in powerless contemplation. And just like Elsa, just like Harry Potter (and his parents), like Aang, like Korra, like Gandhi, like Martin Luther King Jr., like Christ– he finds his True Self through love. His eyes fill with power and he blasts himself out of his chair, finally free. He is not just gifted, now he is in control of his abilities. And the hero’s journey continues.

Light spoilers in the clip below.

These scenes played out daily in my head. I would ask:
“When will I know I’m healed?”
And a response, from somewhere, would be:
“You won’t. It’s a leap of faith, John. That’s all it is. A leap of faith.”
So I would continue to live my life, but this time with love and with my own choosing. People would ask me what I was doing, or what I was planning to do, and I would answer, “I don’t know.” For the first time, I was comfortable admitting that.

It’s amazing to me that the most iconic shot of this movie is below.
Notice anything? Spider-Man is falling upward. If you don’t see this unitive consciousness in our lives, then you’re choosing not to see it.

And now for the incredible clip of Mile’s coming into his own, becoming Spider-Man, taking the Leap of Faith. Heavy spoilers– but this clip, and the music are so great!

That is why this post is titled, “The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You.” It’s not something we wait for. It’s something that’s there– hidden in plain sight. Your superpower has been inside of you this whole time. Sure, we’re all still learning how to manage this this-ness, but we’re all lucky to be a part of the Mystery.

5 thoughts on “The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You”

  1. What exciting news John! I’m so happy for you and can’t wait to hear how you and Neil enjoy the concert tonight!

  2. John, you just took me to CHURCH! This post is a sermon in every sense of the word! Thank you for inviting us into this journey with you.

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