(Image Courtesy of James Maskalyk)

“An ER doctor says being diagnosed with a rare and serious form of cancer has been like ‘coming out as human.’ ‘I thought I knew all this stuff, I learned in school how to prevent these types of things, and now I’m just human after all,’ said Dr. James Maskalyk, an ER physician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Maskalyk was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in May, after he found a lump in his neck. A biopsy showed it to be a rare type of thyroid cancer.

‘That’s the healing process. It’s just a more complex idea of something that includes the mind and the body, and includes the community and ecology,’ he said. At the beginning of the pandemic, Maskalyk was leading people in daily meditation sessions on his social media accounts — and talked through that practice with The Current.

Maskalyk spent part of the summer at Indigenous healing centres (the Turtle Lodge in Manitoba, and the All Nations’ Healing Hospital in Saskatchewan), and said observing and working with elders there has helped him to process his diagnosis. He recalled advice he received from a knowledge keeper named Dave Courchene, who said that whenever anyone’s time comes to die, they ‘only get asked one question.’

‘Did you bring love into the world? … If you did, you’ve done it, you’ve done the work,’ Courchene told Maskalyk.”

More here on Dr. Maskalyk’s journey: Doctor who helped people meditate through pandemic fears diagnosed with stage 4 cancer via CBC Radio.

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