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Facing a Life-limiting Illness - with Maria Baggaley Runningwater
Episode 2430th June 2023 • Drawn to a Deeper Story • Cath Brew
00:00:00 00:38:24

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Cath: [:

Cath: It's a place to listen openly, to absorb people's truths, and to learn how to show up differently for the benefit of everyone. Now today I'm joined by Maria Baggaley Runningwater. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Maria: Hi, it's great to be here.

ll come to realize as we get [:

Cath: So, Maria, can you please share some more about who you are and what's been happening for you recently?

Maria: Well, as you say, I'm a, I'm a multitude of different things, as they say, a multifaceted person. So yes, I. I'm a Shaman beekeeper soap maker. I'm just a very active creative. Person who loves life. Recently though I have had the experience of cancer as after having had a free couple of years of being perfectly healthy and everything else, it has come back.

of that time as we speak. So [:

Cath: Fantastic. That's really good for us as well. We, we want you around as long as possible, but the, the funny thing is that every time I've said, and my wife has also said to you that what you are doing is amazing and the way you are dealing with this, and every single time you've said, I dunno, what I'm doing is, is any different. What do you think your approach has been? To living with this news and just your approach to life generally.

Maria: I'd say my approach is just one of being extremely positive and very grateful for every little, little thing in experience in, in every moment. And all those moments become more precious. They're more heightened, and so they can come with them.

m seeing it now. Mm-hmm. And [:

Maria: And it's given me an opportunity to actually. Have conversations with people that I, I wouldn't have had if I was just knocked over by a truck or something and killed a lot, I wouldn't have had this opportunity. So that's how I see it. Mm-hmm.

ay, even though you said you [:

ewell, which it was. Mm-hmm. [:

Maria: So the focus was on the funny hat, which brought, raised the vibration of the whole event and. A far more positive event and, uh, far more memorable in that way, I feel. And so a lot of love was spread on that day and I received a lot of love on that day. And that's really the bottom line is the love. Mm

Cath: mm Doing that is also very generous to everybody else because clearly it, it's you that's dealing with this and your immediate family, but there's a lot of other people that love you.

Maria: And I think inviting people into that space, even though it's essentially a group by party is really generous for other people's emotions and allowing them the space to grieve and see you doing it the way that you are doing it. I think that's been a wonderful thing. There is a huge balance because there is element of giving and making it possible for people to have that moment or moments with you, but also being a little bit selfish as well and, and saying, right, this is where I draw the line.

Maria: Because [:

Maria: Created the opportunity. So everything seems to have two sides to it. There's always this duality that is going on. Mm-hmm. But with the positive thread going through it all the time.

rigid nature of the kind of [:

Maria: Yeah. Uh, first of all, the end of life is really a birth into another way of being. Mm-hmm. And as you see, just as I birthed into this body and into this life, I'm now at a point where I'm preparing to birth into another life. Mm-hmm. And that is really exciting.

Maria: And so, cause I have such a strong belief of that, I don't have any fear associated with that. And all my spirit guides and helpers that I've worked with over the years have all been around. As if to reassure that they are around ready for that, you know? Mm-hmm. Uh, So that is what makes me able to face this, I think, without fear.

people know, really, I think [:

Maria: Mm-hmm. And it's alright to cry together. It's all right to laugh together. It's all right to joke about it. Mm-hmm. Um, and it's much better than people. I have had people cross the street and avoid me purely and simply because they just did not know what to say. Mm-hmm.

Cath: That's, yeah, I was gonna ask you that because so many people are awkward and dunno what to say when they know someone's got cancer. You are aware enough to, to see all this, but unfortunately for other people it can be quite isolating cuz people stay away. So what, yeah. What advice would you give for people in terms of how to react to what to say to someone who's got cancer? Um,

Maria: what to say? Well, the one that you always feel that you shouldn't be asking is, are you all right?

leaves it open to speaking a [:

Maria: I've had many people say, will you come and let me know that you, you're around. I've had some people say, won't haunt me. You know, all kinds. Um, and it's great when people openly respond in some way and some might simply say, my, my thoughts are with you, you know? Uh, And that, that's great. Rather than avoiding the person because that is extremely hurtful at a time when you are most sensitive and really need to know, even in a small way, that people are still willing to speak to you.

ociety wants to disassociate [:

Cath: And so much of that is, well, all of it is about that person's inability. And I think this is one of the reasons I wanted to originally to do this podcast was to help those moments when someone can't cope with something you've just said in their inability to cope, they throw it back on you and you have to deal with it. So there's an awful lot of you. Coping with everybody else rather than just focusing on your own health and wellness.

Cath: Um, what do you think also about, it's always better to actually go and talk to someone and recognize them, but even if you say something a bit wrong, it doesn't matter like that they, the person would rather have you come and talk to .

d when, when it's one person [:

Maria: Quite apart from the physical, you know, feedback that I've had from the hospital. Mm-hmm. And so, um, it's kind of, you know, how do you respond to people who are offering you cures all the time? You know? Oh, no, no. They, they think you're just choosing to die in that negative way where it isn't, it isn't really like that.

away from the experience of [:

Cath: Well and alive. D Does that make sense?

Maria: It does indeed. Yes. It is a beautiful journey. Although it's got, it's the finality of the end, isn't it? That it's very hard for us to really embrace, partly because of the way we're brought up. We, we don't speak about death. We don't share with children about death in any great detail.

funerals and mm-hmm. For any [:

Maria: We, we use the term celebrating, uh, someone's life, but really do we really know how to do that? And I think actually we haven't had good examples of that, to be honest. Hmm. That's not where I am anyway. And that's something that I, if, if I had one thing I could choose, that I could change, I think it would be that.

Maria: Mm. Mm-hmm.

Cath: So if you could change it, you are, I mean, you are actually, you are actively living it now and making that happen. So how have you managed it with your own family and grandchildren and children and, and all of that? How has that gone for you and for them as well if, if you are able to talk on their behalf?

l and I have a good cry and, [:

Maria: They have questions that come up, so they will openly speak about them and we'll have a, a chat and we don't. Necessarily get to any answers, but we get to a point where we will understand exactly where we both are at that time, and we know that this can change because it has been an evolving, changing journey in this duration.

Maria: And even with the grandchildren. Fortunately, my children have. Being open and honest with, with the grandchildren. So I may, that then means that I don't have to pretend with my grandchildren, I can be exactly me as I am, not be mindful and careful of what I'm saying and what I'm doing. So if I crack the odd joke about, you know, well, I'm not gonna worry about that because bother me, um, I can do that.

Maria: I can be as free and as normal as possible with them, and also have those deep and meaningful conversations with them as well.

te, they, they're aware that [:

Cath: And there's a freedom in that.

Maria: Absolutely. I mean, children have incredible imaginations and nine times outta 10, you would never guess what they're imagining. So when you don't tell them something, I mean, they're very sensitive. What's going on around them. And then you leave them to form their own opinions and, and use their imagination as to what the devil is going on.

to them by not telling them, [:

Maria: Yeah, that's very true.

Maria: Yeah. So they can't. Inquire openly. Some of their questions are very, very easy to answer. Uh, some are a little bit more challenging cause they, they touch, uh, your, your own heart, but at least you can share that. Mm. And. And hopefully we'll do the same, you know, with other members of their families as they grow older.

Cath: Yeah. What you said about it doesn't give them a space for asking questions if it's not talked about. That is so, so important because as you say, their minds go off and, and wander about other things and, and actually, I would say that applies for every person, that if you're not fostering an environment of openness and talking, then resentments come in misinformation.

resses or all of that stuff. [:

Maria: Mm-hmm. This is, it's such a great opportunity.

Cath: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Your spirituality and your view of the world has clearly helped you. But I'm, I'm just thinking about, because most people, as humans, we live so much in our future, um, and planning and looking forward to things and all that, obviously then suddenly changes and it sharpens things in a way that I don't think people are emotionally.

Cath: Ready for. So I was just thinking that if you've already and always explored these concepts, therefore it's going to be an easier thing potentially for you to take on board. Does, is that true or not?

Maria: Um, to be honest, I always hoped and wished that my belief system would mean that I would be able to face this kind of thing in the way that I am doing as it turns out.

Maria: But didn't know. If that was the case until it was really put to the test. Mm-hmm.

Cath: Yeah. We never [:

Maria: And, uh, you know, I, I believe that I have no fear of the end and I don't have any fear as such of the end, but that doesn't mean that I won't have a moment of time.

Maria: You know, when a fear element comes to the forefront, but then I face it and. I dive into it so that I experience it fully and it's. Always in the moment. It's always in the moment. It's, it's quite incredible. And as you were saying about, you know, we do a lot of forward planning and a lot of forward thinking and everything else, and that changes at this time.

Maria: And we've, we're told all of our lives to live in the moment, aren't we live in the moment there is. An aspect of it that can't be done truly unless you are in this position. Mm-hmm. You have to be in this position to actually appreciate just how much of our, our day-to-day thinking is actually wasted thinking.

anning tends to be very much [:

Maria: Really can shift more easily and you can really experience that more. And that's when you realize just how much, so much of our day-to-day thinking is complete. You know, it's just filling, filling space. Mm-hmm. And a lot of our planning, a lot of it is, you know, is I, I noticed myself looking out in the garden the other day and I was thinking, oh, I really ought to go and buy a few, um, a few more snow drops to put in.

Maria: And, um, a few more of this and a few more of that. So I can enjoy them next year. And then I thought, what am I thinking of? Okay, so I can go and get those so somebody else can enjoy them next year. But it's that bit of forward planning that doesn't really need it. Sh the thought should be, I could go and get some snowdrops.

Maria: It's the right time of year to put them in. Mm-hmm. Yeah.

going out and buying it and [:

Maria: Yes. Which is more the focus on the now rather than in a year's time.

Cath: Yeah. Do you find with that, living in the, now that there's moments that you actually forget that you've got cancer?

Maria: Um, yes. I think I do actually, yes. It's very easy to forget it. Um, And that's partly what makes it so surreal. And so when, when you do forget it, because you, you, it's kind of this double-edged sword. You know, if you focus on the one side, it's the, the painful, what I call the, I refer to as the negative side because it brings all the angst and all the worries that could potentially be there.

Maria: And if you focus on the other side, it's the shiny side. Mm-hmm. Where everything's really quite positive. And when it's really quite positive, it's, yeah, you can completely forget. You're focusing on, I'm slapping a bit of paint on a canvas. I'm not an artist by any means, but I'm just enjoying messing out with colors and seeing what Mac I can put on a, on a canvas.

se to be imprisoned by it or [:

Cath: And you talked about wanting to be positive or feeling positive about it and, and doing the positive side of it. Do you feel that, or was there a moment that that really shifted from a, an intellectual. Thought to actually really embodying that.

Cath: Were you aware of a moment that that became a lived thing as opposed to just, oh, wouldn't it be nice to be?

Maria: I think what happened for me was I slipped into the moment of, oh my goodness, you know, I'm gonna die. And very quickly and ah, and all of that. It, it hit me really, really well. I was in, in shock as anybody would be that.

l in that whilst at the same [:

Cath: Mm-hmm. Yeah. So allowing it to exist, but not letting it overwhelm.

Maria: Absolutely. So there was a conscious decision.

Cath: Yes. Yeah. And now, day to day, what, I mean, what does your day look like? What, how is, how has life changed? What are you doing that might be different or not different or kind of what does life look like?

Maria: Um, it varies from one day to the next. Obviously it's, uh, it's a case of physically, things gradually change and so you adjust what you do and what you don't do.

Maria: And that's one of the reasons why you don't plan very far ahead as well. Cause you never quite know what's. How you're going to be. But really every opportunity I have, I find myself asking myself, what do I feel like I would really like to do in this moment? And sometimes it is just to sit and be and do nothing.

ng that should be, I need to [:

Maria: The little things, you know, and when I say the little things, I'm talking about the bird song first thing in the morning. And I mean, I always did have an appreciation of it, but somehow it's, it's heightened now. Yeah. Very much heightened

Cath: it. It's like going from an old mono sound system to a stereo sound system.

Maria: Yes, yes. I was remembering, actually the first day I saw colored television and it was a under sea scene with all the different colored marine fish, you know? Yeah. And I remember. Being absolutely, totally gossip about is the world really that colorful? Yes, it is very much on a par with that. Yes. Yeah.

Cath: I wanted to ask you too about your, your choices for medical care.

oute that needs to be taken, [:

Cath: And I remember you saying early on that the doctors would say things to you and they'd actually check that you'd heard because you weren't reacting in the way that a lot of people react. And I'm curious about. How that's been from a medical point of view and the, the choices that you've made then for your medical care as you, as you go on through the month?

Maria: Well, for myself, I chose not to take chemo, et cetera. Mm-hmm. Um, having such a short prognosis, there was no guarantees of it giving me much longer. And I wanted to enjoy the time that I have rather than be. Fighting with that. And I did discover, and I did observe that sometimes some of the ways it is, um, expressed as well, you could have chemo, you know, at least you would know you had done everything you could.

of doing everything you can, [:

Maria: Mm-hmm. And, and if you listen to it, you eat it and then you suffering. You think I knew it was bad. Yeah. If you're

Cath: stupid, you follow through and you eat it. Yeah.


Maria: Well, it was kind of like that, but I've kind of learned to trust my gut. So, um, I didn't want the chemo and, um, yeah, there, there were occasions when, like when they first told me that I had two to three, three months to live.

think it's, Cause I'm having [:

Maria: I make sure I do something that really makes my soul sing every day. And that's feeding positive energy. Positive energy is far more healing than anything else. Mm-hmm. Um, so now my sleep is much better and sleep is more healing. Mm-hmm. And. So if, if I am, and then I got to a point actually where I thought, oh my goodness, it'd be embarrassing if I lived, you know, coming back, say farewell and everything else, you know?

Cath: Yeah. She lied to us. She lied.

Maria: Yeah. Yeah. And then I thought, do you know what I said to. Universe, you know, speaking to my person is, is the universe. I said, that's okay. If you decide that I can stay here, if you decide that I'm gonna have this miracle cure or whatever, let it be. I'll live with it and I'll get, I'll deal with the embarrassment.

Maria: I'll deal with it. But let's, let's. Do that, you know,

Cath: knowing your life, you probably will. It's like,

years time saying, [:

Cath: waiting, I'm waiting.

Cath: I'm checking my watch.

Maria: I'd be quite happy to have that conversation. Yeah, yeah. Quite more so happy to go if that's

Cath: that's what Yeah. Yeah. Just take it as it comes. Yeah. Yeah. But it is interesting because, um, my wife, Angie and I, we've both, we only said the other day how. You seem like really, really in your body, really grounded, but really lively and there's a, there's an energy, there's a buzz about you that I'd never seen before.

Cath: The diagnosis, like it's a, There's something there, there's a vibrancy and it's, it's wonderful to see and it, and as you say, with the, the positivity and the way you are, you are living, it's um, it's really interesting just to see what that, that impact is and what it will be. Cuz none of us know how this is going to pan out.

standard question for people [:

Cath: I, I know you've been doing a few activities, but have you got a bucket

Maria: list? Well, I didn't have a bucket list. I had a few things in life that I had wanted to do. Mm. But I had never sort of labeled it a bucket list. Um, but when I had this diagnosis, it was amazing just how many things leapt outta that bucket that weren't important.

Maria: That's another thing. Things get filtered through really quickly. You know, what is really at the core of what you really want in life. Mm-hmm. And. Yeah, I discovered that I did have a few things in my bucket list and, uh, my bucket list is getting lower and lower and lower now, and I'm kind of thinking, what else would I like to do then?

o day rather than, you know, [:

Maria: Yeah, if I found myself surviving this, uh, by some miracle, then I would. Definitely endeavor to stay living within that smaller space of time. Mm-hmm. You know, the bucket list, you have this idea that you would like to do this and it isn't until you start to anchor it down and make a date, which brings it really close.

Maria: And that's okay. It's okay for it to be loose there in, in the peripherals, like, um, but when everything gets mapped out, you know, for your next two or three years, then that's a bit silly. Yeah. Yeah. Are you talking

Cath: about like, Surviving and, and 20 years time kind of thing. It makes me think of a, it's like a bit like a Monty Python film where you, you have this bucket list that's meant to be the, the shortness of life, but you're having to keep adding to it cuz you haven't died yet.

Cath: It's like,

Maria: that's right. Yeah. Well that's where I'm at. Yeah. I've got, it was on the original bucket list, which is the hot air balloon. Yeah. And now for other things to put in, in the bucket list. Yeah,

he, just the humor of that I [:

Maria: I think that's quite, yeah, everything has a duality as I mentioned before. So there is the bucket list, which is the things to look forward to that you're gonna be doing. And there's the fuck bucket. So, pardon this.

No, you're allowed to swear on this podcast. No problems

Maria: at all. Um, So many things you, you'll have people who are sort of talking about things and they're getting really head up and you're thinking really?

Maria: Mm. Honestly. So instead of, you know, taking it on board, it goes in the bucket packet. Um, and if, um, if you've got something that comes up, like I had a, an issue with the tax office recently saying I owed them money, which I didn't, it turned out they owed me several hundred. But you know, when I was thinking right.

Maria: I'm not gonna worry about this. It goes in the flip bucket, you know,

Cath: have you put holes in the bucket bucket at the bottom so it leeches out? Or is it getting bigger and bigger and bigger and you need

Maria: to need a bigger bucket? Gets bit and burnt every now and again. I think just, uh, yeah, it was getting quite big, but it's a handy thing to have is the bucket.

Maria: Bucket. Yeah. Yeah.

th: It's quite a nice visual [:

Maria: And it's amazing how it shifts your energy back into that positive space, because these are the things that can really aggravate. Yeah. Yeah. And. You down and when you are trying to maintain a minimum sort of high vibration mm-hmm.

Maria: So that you have better healing and better experience as I have been experiencing, and I've put it all down to that positive thinking and holding positive vibration and maintaining it. I think without that I would definitely be having a very different experience right now.

Cath: Yeah. Yeah. And, and also when you do that, you are taking ownership of it and.

Cath: Choosing how it gets dealt with not having it consume used. Mm-hmm. It's like words that people use that like people reclaim the word and actually then empowers them and puts them in control of it, rather than it being something done to you. So it, it's something that you can transmute into a positive thing or just get rid of it, like you say in the bucket.

nd I'm gonna now say talking [:

Cath: Talk me through your reasons for what you're doing and why you're doing it.

Maria: I remember, um, sorting out one of my parents' funerals and. They had left everything to us, which became, instead of it being the easiest thing, it became the hardest thing on Earth. Mm-hmm. And ju even down to selecting, you know, what him for them was you choose one and then you know, A few hours later or a few days later, you're like, oh, is that the best one to choose?

hey would all have different [:

Maria: So what they would be looking to put together would be for completely different. Things and none of them might quite what I might like. Yeah. I dunno. They might be, they'd all have a, a, an element of what I would like, but they wouldn't necessarily contain the whole. Mm-hmm. So part of having this opportunity is the opportunity to prepare and arrange your own service and, and often and, and things like that.

Maria: And really think about what you would really like. Cause normally it's just done by other people and it isn't. Necessarily what you would like. Mm-hmm. And I did find myself getting, um, hooked up with things and thinking about them too much and thought, why am I getting fixated on this? Mm-hmm. So I'd step back.

eral planning. But then, Was [:

Cath: That you picked that up, that you observed yourself doing that. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Maria: Yeah. So then it becomes something that. I, I'm actually looking forward to it. Okay. I'm not gonna be there in the physical, but I'll definitely be there in spirit.

Cath: Mm-hmm. I think it's also a gift of love to your children because it means that they know that what's happening is what you wanted.

Cath: Mm-hmm. And they're gonna be stressed enough as it is dealing with that tho that day in those weeks and months afterwards that it, it removes a lot of that from them, and I, I think it probably makes it easier for people.

Maria: Totally. I would recommend, you know, that nowadays people do sort of organize some of their, their funerals long before they're ever, you know, thinking and passing away.

hink that's a great thing to [:

Cath: They can also ask you, Questions now while you're alive and talk about things. Yeah. So there's, it's, and I think this is one of the benefits of, I mean, e everybody's different and everybody wants, uh, has a different opinion, but this idea of knowing you're going to die versus sudden death and the, the differences in that, and I think one of the benefits of knowing you're going to die is giving yourself, but also all the people around you, the, the preparation time to start to, to get used to that.

Cath: This is what's gonna happen. Um mm. And we'll be, we'll be saying this still in 20 years as well.

Maria: Yeah, I'm, I'm sure. We'll, I'm sure we, um, yeah. I, I think people can prepare to a certain degree, but there's a certain element of it that you, the threshold that you can't cross over until it's actually happened.

h. That's true for everyone. [:

Cath: Mm-hmm. Yeah. It's an interesting comment actually. It says a lot about that person, doesn't it?

Cath: It's interesting. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Um, where at the point of wrapping up this conversation, is there any advice you'd like to give to others that you haven't already said or any, anything that we haven't discussed that, that you've thought of that you'd like to share with people?

Maria: I'd say, um, those that have, you know, friends or family who.

Maria: Find themselves in this position with a diagnosis of especially a short one of life, then, you know, do embrace it as best you can. Yes, you, you're entitled to get upset. You're entitled to get emotional. And actually that helps the person as well, because they need to be able to cry and it's better to cry with people than cry alone.

e that are going through it, [:

Cath: Yeah, that's a wonderful way to finish. I love that. That's wonderful. Well, thank you so much for your time and for sharing what is a very personal story, but also one that is replicated millions of times over, but in different forms and different ways, and I, I wanted to, as I said at the beginning, I wanted to.

Cath: Bring you in and share your approach. Cuz I think it can really help people look at this a bit differently and take this route as best that they're able to, and, and in a way that benefits them to the best as well as their, their loved ones and the people around them. So thank you hugely. Thank you for having me.

eah, my pleasure. Thank you. [:

Maria: Bye-bye.

Cath: Bye-bye.