For the Love of Life

By Paul Bedson, Senior Therapist
Living Well Magazine Summer 2014/15

Christmas came early for me this year and my present came in a surprising package! My Christmas present was the joy of meeting Del, an 80 year old woman living with cancer, who attended The Gawler Foundation’s 5 day Cancer Fundamentals retreat in October. She was diagnosed with a challenging cancer and was told she had 4-6 months to live.

Del arrived at the Yarra Valley Living Centre under a dark cloud of anxiety and confusion about her future.

She was on the verge of accepting that she was facing the end of a very full life. But an insistent voice inside of her was shouting, “No, it’s not my time yet. I’ve still got more to do. I feel it!” After spending some therapeutic time with Del I had the strong sense that she was not in denial or self-delusion, she had actually tapped into her inner wisdom. This inner voice was telling her to reject the 4-6 month prognosis, it was too limiting and she wasn’t prepared to just lie down and die. This was the voice of her deep love of life and her intuition that she still had more to give and more to enjoy.

Her joy and her passion had been dampened but definitely not extinguished.

Del was an inspiration to the whole group of participants in the 5 day program. Even at her ripe age she showed a willingness to learn, to change, and to contemplate new possibilities for her future. During the sessions on meditation, nutrition and emotional healing, Del was attentive, receptive and embraced everything. She could see the sense in our wholistic approach and she felt empowered to improve her prognosis and her quality of life.

My Christmas present arrived on the last day of the Cancer Fundamentals program. Del’s face was radiant and glowing with her love of life and excitement about this new opportunity. She expressed her heartfelt gratitude for the journey she had begun and the toolkit of resources she was taking home with her.

Del has reframed her cancer diagnosis; she wasn’t going to become a cancer ’victim’, she was determined to become the creator of the next phase of her life. The wake-up call of her cancer diagnosis was, in her words, to remind her “to slow down and smell the roses.” Del was beaming as she gave me a farewell hug… that was my Christmas gift, I couldn’t wish for anything sweeter.

All the staff at The Gawler Foundation’s Yarra Valley Living Centre are constantly rewarded by sharing part of the transformative journey that these cancer patients make from shock, anxiety and confusion to self-empowerment, determination and a real sense of possibility.