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Our Advocates / Inspiring Stories

Browse through a collection of inspiring stories and video testimonials from our past retreat participants…

Rosslyn Lam – In Five Short Days
Autumn 2017, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“Information provided in the sessions on diet, exercise and meditation was evidence-based, comprehensive and compelling. It all made sense to me now, and I knew this was the framework that I needed to live my life in the best possible way going forward. I had tried meditation in the past, now I knew how it worked and why it matters. I believed in it for the first time, and I realised the impact it can have on the cancer cells in my bones. Practising it seemed so much easier with this foreknowledge; the meditation sessions were delightful.”

Paul Kraus, cancer survivor and author

“… You might be interested to know that next July it will be twenty years since Sue and I came to the first 10 day retreat. It was a time when I was given six to nine months to live. There has been no trace of mesothelioma left in my body for some years. The brain tumour was surgically removed three year years ago and, Praise God I stay well. There is no trace of the tumour recurring. The metastasised prostate cancer – well I am ageing and happen to be 72, so I am not stressed. I live well, still meditating twice a day, taking important herbs and vitamins and trying to live a well balanced life. I will always remain grateful for Ian and Ruth Gawler and the blessings I received from the Foundation. Thanks, Paul.”  February 2017

Paul Kraus has his own website and has authored a number of books that highlight Ian Gawler’s work. For more information, please visit paulkraus.com/works-list

Ben Kerslake – Paying it Forward
Summer 2016/17, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“… my time at The Gawler Cancer Foundation had such a positive impact on my life and my diagnosis. I believe what I learned at the retreat has played a huge role in my current state of health, and I really want to help other people who are facing a cancer diagnosis get to a retreat program. I’ve set up a bursary fund at the Foundation, where funds raised by us can be allocated to people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to attend a cancer retreat.”

Dr Melissa Monkivitch – Exploring Intentions for the Future
Summer 2016/17, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“We were so impressed and enthused by our experience at the [Set Your Compass] retreat, that we returned the following year to immerse in the process again… time out, reflection, sharing, meditating, hoping and dreaming about all that is possible in this blessed life that we live.

My partner and I are now married and are a much stronger and healthier unit thanks to the time spent on this weekend. I cannot recommend it enough and plan to book in again in the not too distant future!”

Living with Gratitude – Brenda Scarlett
Spring 2016, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“Since my diagnosis over six years ago my life has changed dramatically. It’s as though I had a life before cancer and another after cancer. Putting my health first became imperative, so I made the decision to return to Apsley – my beloved birthplace – to live in a way that brings me happiness, and maintains balance in my body, mind and soul. I now live my life with purpose, passion, gratitude and peace.”

My New Normal – Elizabeth Schefferle
Spring 2016, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“At my last Neurologist appointment I was told that things looked good, my symptoms have subsided and I am mostly not troubled by them at all. I know my efforts have been rewarded and will continue to be rewarded whilst I remain on the OMS program. So with spring in the air, bulbs and blossoms about to bloom, let’s reflect on the positive changes we can make whilst on the OMS program. As I have indeed experienced there are so many positive outcomes within reach for all of us with MS, if we commit fully to the OMS lifestyle.”

A Big Learning Curve – Deirdre Loveless
Spring 2016, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“I don’t think it was any one single thing – the whole [Life and Living Cancer retreat] was a really big learning curve, and a truly valuable experience for me at that time in my life.
Everyone had an opinion about what I should have been doing following my diagnosis. My family, my friends, they all had strong opinions about what would be best for me, but my time at the retreat really empowered me to be proactive, and gave me to the tools to connect with my own internal knowing of what was right or wrong for me… rather than getting pushed along by what others were telling me. Ultimately we all know our own bodies better than anyone else.”

Going Well, Laurenz Gattermayr

Dear Mr. Wayne Nicholls,
After reading the article, ‘Choosing my own Path through Cancer’ by Rick Freeman, I can put my own name and experience to his story. I did attend a 10-day Life & Living Retreat in July 2012, after being diagnosed in November 2011 with inoperable and incurable Lung Cancer. After radical chemotherapy, radiation treatment and the prognosis of 12 months to live, my emotions were shattered. Luckily my GP in South Australia mentioned The Gawler Cancer Foundation to me four and a half years ago. I took everything that Siggy, Paul, Maia and the rest of the staff taught us onboard. My oncologist discharged me in August 2015 and my specialist discharged me in March 2016. I am still meditating and sticking to a vegetarian diet as strictly as I possibly can. Next year, if possible, I aim to attend the follow up retreat.
I am 79 years old and going well thanks to The Gawler Cancer Foundation; and advocating very strongly for your work. If you could please pass on this note to Siegfried or Paul. Thank you very much.
Best wishes and greetings.
Laurenz Gattermayr

Wellbeing Lifting Everyday, Ann Bidstrup

I am writing to thank you all for a wonderful ‘Weekend Meditation’ at your beautiful property.

I have been a financial member of the Foundation for a long while and I know you do lots of good work, however this is the first time I have participated in one of the retreat programs.

Right from my first phone call when I spoke to Sandy (and later on, Dianne) I felt the caring, nurturing quality of the staff at the Centre.

This weekend I was delighted to actually meet Maia and Paul Bedson, who I have long admired through their excellent articles in the Magazine. I found them to also be wonderful teachers who generously and patiently gave us kindness, understanding and unstintingly shared their wisdom all the time. I loved how they wove their energies throughout the sessions. Under them a diverse group of people linked together and friendship flowed.

I am a teacher and run workshops too, so I was particularly aware of how beautifully crafted Paul and Maia’s program is, to help everyone understand, feel, begin to integrate and become practised enough, to go home and continue with their mindfulness meditation.

During the course, and now at home, I am so grateful to have learned this kind of meditation, I can feel my wellbeing lifting each day – it is a real gift.

As well as the meditation, I also loved the delicious and ‘oh-so-healthy’ food, the Sanctuary, the quality of the property (inside and out), the abundance of nature, and the very special bonus – Michael Johnson and his harp music!

It all combined to create a wonderful experience that has been so good for me.

I know you do this kind of ‘good’ over and over again for many people – I am full of admiration and will be telling more people about you.

Thank you very much.

Ann Bidstrup

My Gawler Experience – Tim Baker
Winter 2016, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“By week’s end I think most of us would agree the experience has more than met it’s three-point mission – to provide hope that we can influence our prognosis through our own actions, to empower us to make informed decisions about our treatment options, and to help us achieve inner peace whatever the future might hold for us.”

My Journey with Overcoming MS – Corinne Nijjer
Winter 2016, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“Once I committed to the diet and lifestyle recommendations I had been taught at the Overcoming MS Retreat, everything began to improve – I lost weight, I no longer felt depressed, I began a love affair with running, and literally everything in my life improved for the better. I went from feeling hopeless and defeated, to feeling empowered and in control of my body and health.”

Choosing my Own Path through Cancer – Rick Freeman
Winter 2016, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“I came away from my first retreat program with a much better understanding of my relationship to cancer, lifestyle and the life choices that we make. My diagnosis affected all of me, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Time at the Yarra Valley Living Centre gave me the opportunity to explore these areas of my life within the context of my cancer, and I began to develop the resources to set out on my cancer journey, with much less fear, and the ongoing support from the amazing staff.

The Gawler Cancer Foundation has given me the tools to recognise, understand and manage the psychological crisis and emotional anxieties caused by the diagnosis of cancer, and how best to try and achieve a cure!”

Rick Freeman further explains the impact 4 of our programs have had on his life in this video…

Vana – Life & Living Cancer Retreat participant, February 2016.

Reclaiming Life – Michael Bradley
Autumn 2016, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“Attending George Jelinek’s MS retreat at the Yarra Valley Living Centre in October, 2013, we thought we were going to eat boiled lettuce and braised air, but the food was exquisite. And what we learnt about MS and life was invaluable. We changed our diet the day we left the retreat.”

Matt Clear – Life & Living Cancer Retreat participant, December 2015.

The Ripple Effect – Jan Street
Summer 2015/16, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“Returning home we were so excited about implementing everything we had learnt into our lives.  Unexpectedly we both lost a lot of weight and started to feel amazing… we were different, and people wanted to know what we were doing.
During the retreat, I purchased Forks Over Knives for my dad, and after reading it he too immediately adopted a plant-based wholefoods diet, and has since been able to come off his blood pressure tablets, cholesterol medication, and reduce his diabetes insulin from 4 to 1 injection per day.  Furthermore there has been no progression of his Lymphoma, so he has been able to avoid treatment so far. At 78 years of age he rides his pushbike 100kms a week and plays golf nearly every afternoon. He is amazing!”

Bouthaina and Barrie – Life & Living Cancer Retreat participants, December 2015.

Inspiring People – Jackie Woodroffe
Summer 2015/16, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

Jackie Woodroffe is one of The Gawler Cancer Foundation’s first cancer program participants. In 1983 Jackie was diagnosed with breast cancer and after being told she between six months and five years to live, decided to attend The Gawler Cancer Foundation’s ‘Living with Cancer’ program.  On reflection, Jackie says that gaining an understanding of the cancer and how she could take control of it, and her life, has been instrumental in her recovery.
“I am very thankful to the Foundation and all the support from everyone throughout my life who encouraged me to stay with it.”

Wesley &  Frauke – Life & Living Cancer Retreat participants, October 2015.

Aleksandra – Life & Living Cancer Retreat participant, October 2015.

Governing Grave’s Disease – Hanna Pratt
Winter 2015, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“I have so much gratitude for everyone there, for what I’ve learnt at the Yarra Valley Living Centre, and what I’ve learnt from various speakers over the years at the many conferences I’ve been to. Keep doing what you’re doing – it sticks. The principles are so good they transfer across all areas of the health spectrum and are not restricted to a specific illness category.”

Travelling Well – Allison Cannon
Winter 2015, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“I have now been cancer free for over 10 years. That’s the longest period in my adult life without cancer and I think it’s no accident. I’ve remained a member of the foundation ever since that stay in 2001. I keep the magazines and re-read them because they give me upbeat news. I’ve been to the conferences when I can. I visit and just sit in the garden. I hope to bring my son one day because the life skills I learned gave me the strength to keep working towards having him.”

Len – Life & Living Cancer Retreat participant, March 2015.

Lemons with Lyme – Emily Harrison
Autumn 2015, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“In my search to find answers and better understand health and wellbeing, I found myself at The Gawler Cancer Foundation Conference several years ago.
It was an inspiring weekend and uplifting to be in the company of so many like-minded people. It provided an opportunity to pick apart the many different layers of ‘health’ and put small changes into place. I discovered qi gong and techniques around meditation and pain management that I still use to this day. In fact meditation has been a life-changer.For a long time I was fighting not to become my illness, while simultaneously forcing myself to overcome it. Neither strategy was particularly successful, in fact it kind of made things worse! It was surrender (at first through utter despair) that softened things. It was the soft surrenders, the depths of acceptance and the gentle whispers of the heart which truly changed things. The healing and peace-making had to begin from the inside out.”

Rick & Julie – Life & Living Cancer Retreat participants, March 2015.

Freeing Myself from Fear – Linda Rocke
Autumn 2015, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“I have attended ten retreats at the Yarra Valley Living Centre and each time I come away calmer, wiser, and soul-enriched to face life’s daily challenges. And a break from cooking is always a treat! At each program I meet amazing people who all have their own stories to tell. On many occasions, it’s hard to say goodbye.”

Planting a Healing Seed – Sophie Jackson (UK) OMS Participant
Summer 2014/15, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“I truly believe that if I put the skills that I was taught that week into practice, that I will be well, fit, strong, and healthy for a very long time, as well as happy, calm and content and with a strong sense of inner peace.  I am eternally grateful that I found my way across the world to the Yarra Valley Living Centre and I would do  it all again in the blink of an eye!”

Second Chance – Leonor Sorrentino
Summer 2014/15, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“I had the most marvellous experience at The Gawler [Cancer] Foundation. Those days learning and processing everything that had happened in my life gave me the confidence I needed to be sure I WAS GOING TO HEAL!!! It transformed our lives forever. We comprehended the power of our minds, the scientifically proven effectiveness of meditation and the pleasure of eating basic, pure, real food!!!”

The Gawler Mob – a song by Brendan “Mookx” Hanley
Brendan “Mookx “- Life & Living Cancer Retreat participant, December 2014.

Why I put my hand up to be a Gawler Foundation advocate – Autumn Tansey
Winter 2014, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“So with the tremendous support of my aunt, family and friends, I attended the Life & Living 10 day retreat at the foundation’s Yarra Valley Living Centre. This is where my true healing began, because in that short time, I went from a fearful and broken human, to an empowered and broken human. Yes still broken. What I learnt was that there was no quick fix, but that I have choice. I didn’t leave there miraculously healed, but I left empowered, with the courage and tools to continue healing. And from this one retreat, my life was returned to me.”

The Gift of Life – Madeleine Selian
Winter 2014, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“Over the years I have attended retreats with Ian Gawler, Ruth, Siegfried, Craig, Paul, Maia and Robyn. The Healing Meditation retreats, Set Your Compass, the Women’s Retreat, Essence of Health, the Gawler Foundation conference, whatever is on I jump at the opportunity. To me the team at Gawler are like members of my family. Attending The Gawler Foundation is a life-changing experience. Once you go there its part of the rest of your life.

Gratitude for Life – Karen Atkinson 
Summer 2013/14, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“Hope my email finds you well, I think of you daily as I meditate to your voice each morning & evening. You have been my inspiration & strength as I go about my Gawler learnings on a daily basis. Since leaving the foundation in May I have religiously followed what your wonderful team taught me. My days start & finish with meditation, I have been happily vegan for five months now & have continued with my coffee enemas daily. You told me when I was down there that I had what it takes to change my oncologists projected outcome of only having up to two years to live. I trusted & believed in you & write to say that I cannot thank you & your team enough for providing Chris & I with HOPE & DIRECTION when it counted most. I have thought about this email many times & wanted to save it until I could tell you… I had an x ray yesterday that my new oncologist described as “extraordinary news” My results showed NO CANCER & my bloods were perfect!!!!! He said you could not ask for a better result!!!”

Creating Wellness – Faye Brown
Summer 2013/14, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

Faye attended the inaugural Gawler Foundation Breast Cancer retreat (“Boob Camp”) in August 2013 after undergoing surgery, radiotherapy, medication and breast reconstruction. She found camaraderie in the all-women group, one of whom was another artist. “I fell in love with these women. The space created and energy of the place was very healing. I meditated and faked it till I made it…I was dreading the meditation, but of course it became the biggest healer.”

In a way, I feel lucky I had cancer – by Scott Haines
Spring 2013, Living Well Magazine read the full article here

“After The Gawler Cancer Foundation program, I changed my diet significantly, stopped drinking and quit coffee. It’s fairly ironic really, but just before my treatment for cancer, I felt better than I had in years – all thanks to meditation and diet”

Dr Taylor uses her own MS experience to help others
Keryn Taylor was completely overwhelmed when she was diagnosed with MS at the age of 25. After attending the Overcoming MS retreat she regained her confidence, reduced her symptoms and went on to complete her studies. She has assisted Prof Jelinek in facilitating the OMS retreat and is determined to spread the word about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and to assist in further research. Click here to read more.

Dr Wright steps away from the abyss
Cancer changed the life of this New Zealand bishop and father of three for ever. For Kelvin, the teaching and coaching of the Foundation’s therapists shaped and focused his relationship with his body, gave him confidence that he will have a healthier future and showed him the tools with which to build that future.  Click here to read more.

Karen faces her fears of MS
Karen, a Brisbane mother of three, attended the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis retreat. She talks candidly about facing her fears of MS,  and the lifestyle changes that have brought her genuine hope for the future. Click here to read more.

Sarah overcomes Lupus
At 19 years of age, Sarah was diagnosed with lupus. This caused her immune system to attack itself leaving her with life-threatening complications, endless trips to hospital, long term medications and unable to pursue her dream of becoming a kindergarden teacher. After completing the MS retreat, Sarah changed her diet and her lifestyle. Today she is a different person; healthier, happier, and living her dreams. Click here to read more.

Soula writes her own story
Soula firmly believes that anyone can tap into their own healing energy. Diagnosed with ovarian cancer, her research into diet, lifestyle change, positive thinking and meditation eventually led her to The Gawler Cancer Foundation. She has used some of what she learnt from the Life and Living retreat to publish her own book, The Detox Answer.  Click here

John takes the road less travelled
John refused surgery and chemotherapy to treat prostate cancer and follicular lymphoma and took on the lessons from the Life and Living retreat to completely change his way of life. Chinese medicine and regular 900km walks along the Camino Frances in Europe, also play an important part in halting the spread of his tumours. Click here to read more.

Kitty’s tumour shrank but her life grew
When Kitty was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, the doctors’ prognosis was palliative care, yet Kitty wasn’t about to give up. She accepted everything conventional medicine had to offer plus she attended the Life and Living retreat where she found she could help herself and play an active role in her own healing. Twelve months later her surgeon was amazed to see that her tumour had shrunk to only 0.2millimetres in size. Click here to read more.

Jenny’s life lived to the fullest
Jenny first became aware of the Foundation when her husband had an aggressive melanoma. She returned to the Foundation some time later when she received her own MS diagnosis. Jenny believes the Foundation’s lifestyle principles have given her the physical benefits of wellbeing, and more importantly, a holistic approach to living that has enabled her to pursue a path in life so different from what she imagined. Click here to read more.

Janice finds life after cancer
As a healthy non-smoker, throat cancer came as a shocking suprise to Janice. Now she reflects on the rollercoaster that is a cancer diagnosis, treatment regimes and life after attending Life and Living. Janice has now found balance and happiness. Click here to read more.

Mandy’s incredible journey to recovery
As a busy business owner and mum of two children under five, Mandy didn’t have time for headaches. So when the pain in her head became unbearable, she quickly made an appointment with her doctor. The results were what no young mother wants to hear. Mandy had two, Grade 3 brain tumours – and they were malignant. Click here to read more.

Bernadette beats Melanoma
Bernadette was diagnosed with advanced melanoma 13 years ago. Now at 58, she is happy, healthy, and a very grateful survivor.  Her doctors believe that her recovery was down to the six-month treatment of Interferon yet she believes it was the significant lifestyle changes recommended by The Foundation that really started her recovery.  Even her oncologist noticed the change in Bernadette after the Living Well program. Click here to read more.

Helen cancer warrior
After years of feeling that something wasn’t quite right, Helen was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2009. She had surgery to remove her stomach in early 2010, though the cancer had spread to about 12 adjoining lymph nodes, which were also removed. It was unknown if the cancer had spread even further. Read Helen’s remarkable journey to health and her transformation into the ‘cancer warrior’. Click here.

Hamish finds a new beginning
Hamish reflects on this life since wife Jacqui passed away seven years ago. He fondly looks back on his time with the Foundation in the Yarra Valley, the lessons of Life and Living and the new love he has since found. Click here to read more.

Caroline’s courageous cancer journey
After a serious battle with breast cancer Caroline now practices daily, the lessons she learned at the Foundation. She has reduced her stress, focused on quality of life and prioritised family, friends and laughter. Click here to read more.

Michael receives unexpected blessing
When Kathy enrolled in the cancer Life and Living program, I enrolled myself as well, thinking that I was just there to support Kathy. I was amazed to find that this course ended up changing my life in amazing ways that I could never have imagined. Click here to read more.