Sunday, July 28, 2013

Hope Lives in a Garden ...

Hi everyone! I hope your summer's going well.

This morning, while looking through my bookcase for something else, I rediscovered a special journal written by one of my best friends, Linda Vick. I had given it to her at Christmas 1996 and she had used it while at a Callanish Retreat for people living with cancer. Linda had lung cancer and she died about three and a half years before my husband. She left the journal to me when she died - a precious and cherished gift.

One of the things that Linda found difficult to accept after her diagnosis was the frequently used medical metaphor of white blood cells "attacking" her cancer cells to "kill" them and make her well again. I can remember her screwing up her usually-smiling face and telling me that she didn't like the aggressive, attacking images one bit and that it was much better for her to think about a loving, healing light in the area of her heart, a light that radiated throughout her body, turning all the cancer cells into normal, healthy, pink lung cells.

In an interesting spot of synchronicity, I rode up in the elevator from the parking lot at church later this morning with Helen Worley, an old friend of my husband, whom I hadn't seen since Derrick's funeral almost nine years ago. In the short distance between the parkade and the church office we quickly exchanged news, including the fact that Helen had been through two bouts with cancer, herself, and had just written a short whimsical book about her healing experience, told through the eyes of her stuffed monkey, Nutmeg, who had accompanied her throughout her treatments.

Helen, like Linda, had been uncomfortable with the notion of "fighting" a cancer diagnosis. Instead, she came up with a gardening metaphor as a holistic alternative. She saw her body as a beautiful garden, growing and changing and renewing, and the cancer as a weed needing removal. Once it was gone, her garden required careful tending and feeding to become restored and resilient again. A much better metaphor, in my opinion!

I bought a copy of Helen's book before coming home and settled in with a cup of tea for a lovely, gentle read. Hope Lives in a Garden is a simple, honest, touching reminder of what really matters when it comes to being well and whole. A good gift for people living with cancer and for those who love them. If you're interested in purchasing a copy (the proceeds go to Callanish Society, Vancouver, PeaceHealth St Joseph Centre for Integrative Cancer Care, Bellingham, and the Lung Cancer Research and Education Fund, UW, Seattle), just click on the title above.

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