By Gerald Hausman

Santa Fe, NM, USA


Five years ago I was struck by lightning.


I was out in the yard talking to a friend in a pick-up truck when the sky darkened and a bolt came down, flashed off the truck and hit me pretty square in the left breast. I don’t remember much about that moment, but what happened was this: suddenly there was no volume. Everything went quiet.


My friend was talking to me but I heard not a sound. The whole world in that moment was muffled into a pillow of nothingness. When the sound came back on, after a few minutes, the sky was pink, then emerald, then … I sort of blacked out but I felt myself moving, as if in a dream. Stumbling barefoot, I went back to our house where my wife Lorry met me at the front door.


“One helluva killer bee,” I said in a daze.


Days later, I was up and about as usual. I still had some spasms in my spine, but otherwise, I felt A-OK.


But, here is the thing I wonder about now …


Could that lightning bolt have given me the tumor that was recently removed from my left breast?




Presently, I find myself in the midst of radiant angels. Doctors, nurses, and hospital helpers. These are the saints who see us through the program of radiation. These are practitioners who are passionate about saving lives and helping those who are on the edge of the abyss of life.

Gerald Hausman

Yesterday, in the Cancer Center, I met a man named Paul, who had lost a leg to a grizzly bear. He was in the Yukon and his girlfriend saw steam rising from a hole in the snow. “Hey, there’s a bear sleeping down there,” she said.


It wasn’t long before the bear was awake and Paul was trying to rescue his girlfriend. The bear was attacking both of them. Paul saved his girl but lost his leg.


You hear such stories in hospitals.


A few weeks ago, I met a woman with rare cancer that drilled a hole in her left arm. She showed me where the hole had been. A surgeon fixed it, smoothed it, made it look normal.


Now, she and I are both in the care of radiant angels, and in the radiation waiting room, we pretend to be pugilists. She crouches. I crouch. We take swings at an invisible opponent called Cancer.


I am now on my seventh week of radiation, and I have to say, there is nothing like it. Two minutes on the rotisserie, as the nurses here say, and I am out, thanking every white, blue and green coat in the hospital. For these are the bodhisattvas who save lives.


What amazes me is they never have a frown on their face. Their eyes always sparkle, they are never impatient, or perturbed, and I want to add that I love them as much as I love my own life. They are not separate from it.


There is a poem about these angelic saviors.


Ironically, the poem’s entitled “Ghouls of Mercy” and it is written by a one-name Santa Fe poet, Rosé.


Ghouls they are not, the poet, aptly and ironically, states. They are rather the masters and mistresses of radiance who save lives every day.


Ghouls Of Mercy


The ghouls of mercy at the hospital

Devour the flesh to save your bloody life

Called from your chair there in the vestibule

They lead you to the laser or the knife

Or to the great machine, the monster eye

That sends a beam of radiation thru

Your every cell so it can crucify

That renegade and cancerous voodoo.


You die down in position on the slab

The mask locked to your face to hold you tight

Technicians war again cancer the crab

That clawed and multiplying parasite.

Upon this field of honor, life and death

You thank the ghouls of mercy with each breath.


It seems to me, after six months of dealing with cancer and its removal, I am one lucky individual. The radiant angels are with me now, whether in the hospital, or anywhere I happen to be. I see them and feel their presence.


Another thing cancer has brought into my life is the Buddhistic awareness that we are all fellow sufferers on the road of life. That doesn’t seem profound or at all unusual. But after lightning bolts, radiant treatments, and cancer battles, you see things more clearly in the city where you live.


You see, for instance, a man beating a bunch of cans with a stick while yelling at them as if they were miscreant children in need of a good beating.


You see someone barely able to walk and you imagine they must be quite old. Then you find out, talking to them, that they are in their forties.


You see, above all, the patience of those serving them, helping them, smiling at them, keeping their spirits up.


Sometimes I am almost proud to say, “I have had cancer.”


Because, by saying that, I am admitting to myself that we all walk the same uneven, but always equally unequal, road of life. For it is as Black Elk, the great Lakota spokesman once said:


“Grant us the breath of life, as we have once known it – not as we know it not. We know that the stinging bee makes sweet honey, the worm turns into a butterfly, that frogs, once legless, learn at last what it is to have legs, that the rotten trunk gives way to seed, that the newborn eagle, all feather and fluff, one day will soar. All these things I know and respect and yet the change that comes in the moment is often misunderstood.”


As is, I might add, the mystery of cancer.


And the dedication and mercy of those who heal it.



Gerald Hausman


Gerald Hausman is an award-winning, bestselling author and storyteller.  His new book, Mystical Times at Noel Coward's - Nights and Days in Jamaicawas released in September 2020.

All opinions expressed are solely those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.