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Fear melted and wonderful new connections formed

Fear melted and wonderful new connections formed

I have recently returned from our ‘Quest for Life’ residential program and my heart is so warmed by the transformation I witnessed on the faces and in the hearts of the beautiful people who attended.

Naturally, some people felt apprehensive at the start, but as they shared their lives and experiences with each other, the fear melted and wonderful new connections formed.
People from all walks of life grappled with the challenges of living with the diagnosis, treatment and ongoing physical, emotional and spiritual challenges of life during and after a body threatening illness.

I say ‘body-threatening’ on purpose because I truly believe that while the body may feel under threat, life itself is not and life cannot and does not die.

Maybe we are just ‘renting’ this body for a while so we can have a human experience? Maybe we are only ‘tenants’ and if you have ever been a tenant, you will know that one day you have to move on. Only trouble is that we move into our bodies and develop a deep sense of ‘me’ in ‘my’ body and our identification with ‘me’ in ‘my’ body can make it much harder to leave peacefully.

Of course, resisting leaving, say with treatment, can be entirely appropriate, especially if you have received your ‘eviction notice’ premature to your expectations but resisting leaving by denying your feelings, avoiding reality or isolating yourself might add more pain to an already challenging process.

However there is hope and there is potential for personal growth too. If you can find a way to use the ‘early eviction notice’ as a portal into what life is really about, you may discover what really matters to you and I hope this might your version of love and living fully today.

Maybe when you resist your death, your pain, your body, your feelings, your illness, your electricity bill, your conflicts, your lusts, your aging or whatever, you miss out on the fullness of life? The good news is that you can learn to live in the present, feeling it all and living it all, fully alive with all of life’s joy and sorrow but nonetheless buzzing with life.

And yes it can be scary. Of course it can feel terrifying but you can find fellow ‘tenants’ who have also been given ‘notice’ and like you are on their own personal quest for life and this can really help ease the burden.

Our bodies are all going to die. Your fears will be validated at Quest and will not be denied. They are very real and you need loving care and support to process them AND it is possible to change your perspective.

When you come to Quest for Life, you may learn how to approach life gently and with acceptance.

If you have been given an ‘early eviction notice’, then please make your way to a ‘Quest for Life’ program to help you make sense of what has happened, to ease your resistances and to learn how to suck the delicious juice out of life for as long as you can no matter what your situation. In this way you may live as best you can amidst the circumstances of this life right now, today and in this minute.

Profound thanks to my fellow ‘tenants’ from last week and much love and life to all for now. Margie

The next Quest for Life program is 5-9 December 2012. NSW health subsidies available

Please phone Suzanne on 1300 941 488 to book your place.

Margie Braunstein

Margie Braunstein

Margie Braunstein

Margie is a somatic psychotherapist and counsellor providing psychotherapy services to the people of the Central Coast and Sydney.  Margie lives on the beautiful Central Coast with her husband, two children, two dogs and a cat.

Over the last 12 years, Margie has also been engaged in the design, delivery and marketing of transformational learning programs. During this time she has regularly facilitated personal development programs for up to 50 people on weekend workshops, week-long intensives and advanced programs of 3-4 months.

Margie has a Graduate Certificate in Adult Education from UTS, Diploma in Psychotherapy from the Australian College of Contemporary Somatic Psychotherapy and qualifications in somatic therapy, executive coaching and relationship counselling.

Margie has a passion for personal development and regards people with respect, empathy and compassion in the belief that while we all do the best we can, a little bit more kindness and care can lead to even greater peace and joy in life.

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“I can’t imagine how you must be feeling right now but I’m happy to listen”.

“I can’t imagine how you must be feeling right now but I’m happy to listen”.

These notes have been put up to support a radio interview done by Petrea King on Monday 6th February on Nightlife with Tony Delroy (ABC local radio).

Introduction

It’s often difficult to know what to say when someone you love is diagnosed with cancer or a serious disease. Some people find it so uncomfortable that they’d rather cross the street than say hello to you. Why is this? The anguish of diagnosis is a big enough trauma without feeling that people have deserted you because they don’t know what to say. So, what is supportive when someone you love has been given a diagnosis? What should we say? How can we unobtrusively or, perhaps, obviously let them know that we’re here for them?

Petrea shares some supportive and meaningful insights into the DO’s and DON’T’s of what to say to someone who’s just been diagnosed;

DO say:

  • “I can’t imagine how you must be feeling right now but I’m happy to listen”.
  • Do listen without judgment.
  • Do something practical if you can. Perhaps pick the children up after school, offer to drive your friend to their treatment or support group or counsellor, take the dog to the vet if need be.
  • Most importantly, ask your friend what kind of support they might most value. Would they like you to research options, doctors, treatments or complementary therapies?

DON’T say:

  • Don’t tell people to be positive or keep their chin up.
  • Don’t tell people that they shouldn’t feel the way they do.  If that’s how a person feels then respect their feelings and don’t judge them. A person will not disclose what you might perceive as negative feelings if they feel they will be judged. It is not negative to talk about death, suicide, despair, depression, panic or fear. Talking about things gets the energy of the feeling moving and as soon as we are able to utter the unutterable we find the feeling diminishes in its intensity. Sometimes we don’t know what we feel until we hear what we say.
  • Don’t tell people about the people you know who’ve suffered with or died of the disease that your friend’s just been diagnosed with.
  • Don’t assume that you know how another person is feeling. For instance, for one person who has cancer in the breast, he or she may feel relieved that it is in a part of their body where it can easily be removed, whilst for another it may be devastating to her body image and sexuality.

Support available:

  • Sometimes the most unexpected people appear in your life and are wonderfully supportive be open to these ‘angles’ in your life. People are so willing to help.
  • For many people, perhaps for the first time in their lives, they realise how much other people really care about them.
  • Quest for Life Programs and support.

Should you or someone you love require further information on the programs and support Quest for Life provides please contact Quest for Life on

1300 941 488 or visit the website and you can always become part of our Facebook community.

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Freedom and Jeff

Freedom and Jeff

Petrea came across this story via email and we just had to share it!

This  is the kind of story that enlivens and nourishes our hearts.

Freedom and I have been together 11 years this summer. She came in as a baby in 1998 with two broken wings.  Her left wing doesn’t open all the way even after surgery as it was broken in four places. She’s my baby.

When Freedom came in she could not stand and both wings were broken. She was emaciated  and covered in lice. We made the  decision to give her a chance at life, so I took her  to the vet’s office.  From then on, I  was always around her. We had her in a huge dog carrier with the top off and it was  loaded up with shredded newspaper for her to lay in.  I used to sit and talk to her,  urging her to live; and she would lay there looking at me with those big brown eyes. We also had to tube feed her for weeks.

This went on for 4-6 weeks and, by then she still couldn’t stand. The decision  was made to euthanase her if she couldn’t stand in a week.  You know you don’t want to cross that line between torture and rehab and it looked like death was winning. She was going to be put down that Friday and I was supposed to come in on the Thursday. I didn’t want to go
to the center that Thursday because I couldn’t bear the thought of her being euthanased; but I went anyway and when I walked in everyone was  grinning from ear to ear. I went immediately to her cage and there she was, standing on her own, a big beautiful eagle.

She was ready to live. I was just about in tears by then. That was a very good day.

We  knew she could never fly, so the director asked me to glove train her. I got her used to the glove and then to jesses, and we started doing education programs for  schools in western Washington. We wound up in newspapers, on radio (believe it or not) and some TV. Miracle Pets even did a show about us.

Freedom would also come to me in my dreams

Freedom would also come to me in my dreams

In the spring of 2000, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s  lymphoma. I had stage 3, which is not good (one major organ plus everywhere) so I wound up doing 8 months of chemo. Lost the hair – the whole bit. I missed a lot of work. When I  felt  good enough, I would take Freedom out for walks. Freedom would also come to me in my dreams and help me fight the cancer. This happened time and time again.

Fast forward to November 2000 the day after Thanksgiving, I went in for my last checkup. I was told that if the cancer was not all gone after 8 rounds of chemo, then my last option was a stem cell transplant. Anyway, they did the tests and I had to go back for the results. I went in the following Monday and I was told that all the cancer was gone.

So the first thing I did was get the big girl out for a walk. It was misty and cold. I went to her flight and jessed her
up and we went out front to the top of the hill. I hadn’t said a word to Freedom, but somehow she knew.

She looked at me and wrapped both her wings around me to where I could feel them pressing in on my back (I  was engulfed in eagle wings), and she touched  my nose with her beak and stared into my eyes. We just stood there like that for I don’t know how long. That was a magic moment.  We have been soul mates ever since she came in.  This is a very special  bird.

On  a side note: I have had people who were sick come up to us when we are out, and Freedom has some kind of hold on them. I once had a guy who was terminal come up to us and I let him hold her. His  knees just about buckled and he swore he could feel her power course through his body.  I have so many stories like that.

I never forget the honor I have of being so close to such a magnificent spirit as Freedom.

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Quest for Life Centre in Spring

The Quest for Life Centre in Spring

I am just back from yet another inspiring week with the most wonderful people and it motivates me to jot down a few words about the courage people demonstrate when they come to a program…

It never ceases to amaze me on day one of a residential program just how much courage it must take for some people to make it all the way from the familiar surrounds of their home to the unfamiliar environs of the Quest for Life centre. It truly is a testament to the trust that people place in Petrea and the Quest for Life Foundation. Here is my perspective on what happens.

As people finish their cups of tea and coffee in the living room, they are warmly invited, by our support staff, to make their way into the group room whereupon they see a large circle of chairs with a table up the front with a big bunch of flowers from the garden.

People take their preferred chair.

There is tension in the air as complete strangers look tentatively around the room at the people with whom they have chosen to spend the next 5 days. The nerves are palpable. I am sure some people might be thinking… “Why am I here again?” as they plan their exit strategy and I’m sure some people must feel like turning on their heels and running in the opposite direction! Yet they don’t.

I realise that some participants rarely even leave their house and others are just more used to keeping their ‘ tender bits’ to themselves and this inspires me. Yet, these people travel by plane, train or automobile all the way to Bundanoon to sit in a room full of strangers when they are feeling at their most vulnerable and fragile. Wow… now that is impressive and BRAVE.

So here we all are. We on the support team have been here many times before and we hold this space tenderly. We know the plan for the week and have experienced the ice melting and people blossoming as they feel accepted and their vulnerabilities are supported with gentleness and care.

We trust the process that is about to unfold and we welcome each person with respect for what it takes to get here.

As the week progresses, we feel the relief as these brave people feel heard and cared for, as pain eases and comfort is provided. Some people will wrestle with demons and some people will make peace with the past.  Plus we know that there will be laughs as well as tears and there will be delicious and healthy food that just keeps coming!

By the end of the week, we know there will be warmth and comfort, laughter and acceptance as people from disparate walks of life show inspiring respect for each other and the team will leave tired but moved by the capacity people have for healing and love.

Well that is how I experience it… It would be great to hear from you about your experience of coming to Quest and I hope to see you there soon.

Lots of love

Margie

 

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A False Positive

A path of healing including emotional wellbeing and expression

As a cancer counsellor, I often hear people talking about how they ‘must stay positive”.  Everyone from their oncologist to their friends and family want them to ‘stay positive’ too. ‘

One woman told me that her mother responded to her wanting to talk about her fear of dying by saying “now, now we don’t want to hear any of that negative talk”…  and went off to make a cup of tea. Many of her friends were reacting in a similar way.

Mum is probably terrified of losing her daughter and may have learned to cope with life’s difficult emotions by putting her own head in the sand or she may hold a common, but incorrect, belief that feeling ‘negative’ makes things worse.

Think for a moment about how this impacts on her daughter. She is probably feeling vulnerable, frightened, sad and grieving for the loss of her certainty about life and now she finds many of her friends and loved ones staying behind emotional closed doors just at a time when she needs them to be open.

At a time when someone needs support and care, well intentioned people dismiss their concerns. Some people even feel really scared about causing their own death if they can’t maintain this much desired state of positivity. Such pressure!

In the book ‘Remarkable Recovery’’, one doctor says ‘’The cancer patient who keeps up a false front in the name of positive attitude is doing himself a disservice. He’s cutting himself off from emotions – fear, anger, sadness – that are necessary in the healing process’’.

There is a distinct difference between holding a vision for a positive outcome of health, peace and life and trying to stay constantly positive while on the path of healing.

Feelings are experienced in our bodies. Think about someone you love. Where is the bodily feeling when you conjure an image of that person or pet? Think of a situation that causes you to feel fear. Where is the bodily feeling when you conjure up that image? Is it different to the feelings of love?

Unexpressed feelings become tension which we hold in our bodies. We learn at a young age what feelings are safe to express and what are not. We cut off from these feelings and a so a part of us becomes unavailable and locked away. ‘Health’ means to ‘become whole’ but years of chronic holding back of these feelings may deplete our resources and contribute to ill mental and physical health.

Appropriate expression of anger (or any other feeling) can be hugely liberating. Personally, I like to have a good old growl in the car when no-one is listening. No I am not mad, just happily expressive!

While I believe there are many triggers and causes for our bodies to move from good health to disease, I do think that emotional congruence or ‘being true to you’ plays a part and if we paper over our feelings, then we may be preventing the full flowering of our potential.

Disease can be a catalyst for people to explore any long buried bits. This can be challenging which is why it is sometimes best done in the company of a caring professional. It can also be liberating and lead to freedom, lightness and deep inner peace.

So I encourage you to be true to yourself and to explore all the options on your path of healing including emotional wellbeing and expression. If you have a loved one going through a difficult time, see if you can offer them the gift of bearing their suffering so that they might feel supported as they search for their own way to health and peace…

Lots of love

Margie

Margie Braunstein

Margie Braunstein

Margie Braunstein

Margie is a somatic psychotherapist and counsellor providing psychotherapy services to the people of the Central Coast and Sydney.  Margie lives on the beautiful Central Coast with her husband, two children, two dogs and a cat.

Over the last 12 years, Margie has also been engaged in the design, delivery and marketing of transformational learning programs. During this time she has regularly facilitated personal development programs for up to 50 people on weekend workshops, week-long intensives and advanced programs of 3-4 months.

Margie has a Graduate Certificate in Adult Education from UTS, Diploma in Psychotherapy from the Australian College of Contemporary Somatic Psychotherapy and qualifications in somatic therapy, executive coaching and relationship counselling.

Margie has a passion for personal development and regards people with respect, empathy and compassion in the belief that while we all do the best we can, a little bit more kindness and care can lead to even greater peace and joy in life.

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How well do you receive support?

Writer and psychotherapist Dr Stephanie Dowrick describes what best supports us after a diagnosis of serious illness

There is never a “right time” to discover that you have been diagnosed with a serious or life-changing illness.  And there is certainly no one “right way” to respond.  Almost all of us have a picture of the ideal patient in our minds. Which means that in the midst of all that we are already dealing with, it is extremely tempting to test ourselves against that imagined ideal – and to fail.

Our imagined patient is not just brave. He or she is heroic (of course!). She doesn’t complain, even when her treatments feel like torture. She doesn’t weep (or throw up) at the wrong time. She certainly doesn’t shout “why me?”.  However serious the news, she continues to be calm, trusting, infinitely stoic and good to be around. In fact, she is lovelier in every way than she has ever been! What’s more, she (or he) has tireless circles of friends and family whose care and affection is invariably welcome.

Are you laughing as you read this list? I hope so! Because the reality for most or all of us is, of course, quite different.

We are not idealized, one-dimensional people. We are complex human beings and none of us can know in advance how we will deal with the stresses of a serious illness. In fact, it is immensely helpful to remember that illness happens in lives that are already complicated. Serious illness brings new complications and it is likely to need a period of adjustment that may move through different stages, not unlike grief.

Telling ourselves we should not be feeling what we are feeling is never helpful. Even as we learn new and more effective ways to support ourselves – and we can do that – we will still be dealing with old emotional habits, as well as facing the new and sometimes frightening realities of life-changing illness.

Helping ourselves effectively involves discovering new strengths, and regarding our fears and “weaknesses” with genuine compassion – an attitude that is quite different and much more healing than self-pity, shame or denial.  But that takes time, good will and perhaps a new openness to ourselves and acceptance of others.

It is realistic to know that illness will create real stress also for the people around us. A more generous view of ourselves can extend to a more generous view of the people on whom we depend. It is not helpful or realistic to expect ourselves to be “ideal” patients. Nor to expect our loved ones to be “ideal” support people.

A more generous view of ourselves can extend to a more generous view of the people on whom we depend.

Illness can drive people apart rather than bringing them closer. But that is much more likely to happen when expectations are unrealistic or when people are not allowed to live their new roles in the highly individual ways that reflect their inner truth.  We won’t ever all be the same kind of patient. We won’t ever all be the same kind of support person.

In the real world, most of us discover day by day and bit by bit how best to meet a situation we would never have chosen, one that brings all kinds of fears and sorrows but also some quite unexpected opportunities.

These ideas may be helpful.

•   Take it for granted that you can’t predict your response to a serious diagnosis or treatment – and nor can your nearest and dearest. Don’t judge yourself or others against ideals that belong only on television or in your imagination.

•   Take advice – including this – with a pinch of salt. Illness brings many opinions out of the woodwork. Accept only what “feels right”.  Trust your instincts.  For the rest?  Smile and say, “How interesting!”

•   If you are the support person, keep “advice” and opinions to a minimum.

•   Give yourself and others the gifts of time: no sense of hurry; a spaciousness that allows for listening and being.

•   Trivialising your own or someone else’s suffering is a defence mechanism that isn’t helpful. Catastrophizing is also unhelpful. The old cliche of one day at a time, dealing with what’s right in front of you, works well for many people.

•   Step up your communication skills.  Whether you are the support person or the person being supported, share what you are feeling and what you want. When things are not “said” it is far more likely that at least one of you will “act out” your fears or resentments through withdrawing, argument, belittlement, bitterness, criticism, getting drunk, never leaving the office…

•   Asking for what you want and need doesn’t mean you will always get it. Acknowledge that.

•   Appreciate and affirm what you ARE getting!  Gratitude is a wonderful way to encourage others, no matter how helpless we feel.

•   Many people find it difficult to receive. If you are one of them, take a deep breath, open your heart a little wider, and practise!  Use your journal to write down what stands in your way of “easy receiving”, especially old attitudes, and also to note how good it feels when others receive gracefully what you yourself are willing to do or give.

•   No matter how close you and your partner or support person are, recognize that you both need other people in your life to listen, encourage and care.  Support people also need support.

•   Know that fear and stress sometimes mean that the best-intentioned people will behave badly. Intelligent professional help can work wonders, especially when old fears are newly triggered (for example, you or your support person may have lost a sibling or parent as a child, and may be coping with a reawakening of that, as well as the present situation.).

•   Banish criticism, resentment and “blaming”. All are toxic and will seriously undermine your relationships and sense of self when you need them most.

•   Recognize you are likely to feel globally vulnerable – not just about your illness. This is not the time to fix other people’s problems or to put up with behaviour that is abusive, violent or confusing. You literally cannot afford to do so. Again, professional help can work wonders. So can clarifying your needs through journal writing.

•   Make it a top priority to spend time that is not about “managing” your life or illness but experiencing what’s most uplifting and delightful. Know what gives your life its special sweetness. Bring those moments to the forefront of your life.

On 11 April Dr Stephanie Dowrick will begin the first of six evening workshops in the “Support for Life” Sydney series. Although this is Stephanie’s first group with Quest, she has been running groups for many years and also working with Breast Cancer Network..

For further details and bookings for Stephanie’s “Support for Life” visit the Quest for Life website. You are invited to join Stephanie on her Facebook page or visit her website.

You might like to read Stephanie’s other post After the Diagnosis

Stephanie Dowrick

Stephanie Dowrick

Reverend Stephanie Dowrick, PhD  is best known as the author of life-changing, accessible books that are encouraging and inclusive. They include Intimacy and Solitude, Forgiveness and Other Acts of Love, The Universal Heart and Choosing Happiness: Life & Soul Essentials.  Her newest book (2010) is Seeking the Sacred: Transforming Our View of Ourselves and One Another.

She is a qualified psychotherapist and an ordained interfaith minister and has been leading and teaching groups of many kinds for more than two decades, including spiritual retreats and well being groups. She is in constant demand as a speaker both nationally and internationally.

Stephanie was born in New Zealand and lived in Europe for many years. She was founder and first Managing Director of the London publishing house, The Women’s Press. She came to Australia in 1983 and has lived in Sydney ever since. She was the “Inner Life” columnist for Good Weekend Magazine from 2001-2010 (Sydney Morning Herald and The Age), and for many years has been a regular guest on ABC Radio. Stephanie is currently an Adjunct Fellow with the Writing & Society Research Group at the University of Western Sydney where she completed her doctorate in 2008.  She works regularly with Breast Cancer Network Australia and is also an active ambassador with the International Women’s Development Agency. She gives regular interfaith service at Pitt Street Uniting Church in Sydney, is the mother of two adult children and lives in Sydney.

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Sometimes it takes guidance to find the stepping stones

Like Petrea – the angel of healing we all admire so much! – I have been working for many years with people in all kinds of challenging moments – many of them provoked by a serious diagnosis or illness.

My professional training is in the areas of psychotherapy and ministry and I am aware how often those “challenging moments” can seem to stretch over months or even years. In fact, sometimes the hardest time with an illness or life-changing diagnosis is not when it occurs and everyone is focused on it, but when the immediate crisis passes and we believe life “should” or could be back to normal!

Yet I wonder if, after a big inner upheaval, life is ever quite the same again.
Or, indeed, if it should be?

Almost always some of the old certainties will have gone. Perhaps some of our old innocence, too. But it is not inevitably a change for the worse. Whatever our physical condition or prognosis, with time and support it’s almost always still possible to find gentle, effective ways to regain our joy in living and even to experience greater and more genuine wellbeing.

Our “health” never depends on our physical condition only. That’s a wonderfully freeing thing to discover and I know this is part of Quest’s philosophy also. It is always deeply affected by our mind and spirit, our attitudes and our openness to inspiration, hope and connection. Some people are truly and increasingly “well” until their last breath, even when the body is going. That’s not something we can always control, and we certainly can’t take it for granted. But we can influence it.

This is not to deny the pain and fear we often feel. Learning to “read the body” to best support it, and effectively to soothe your mind and emotions, becomes an urgently needed resource for most people after a serious illness. Those are skills easily learned and of tremendous benefit. Then, whatever our situation, most of us will indeed discover and identify ways to live more positively. And often with new levels of kindness and a greater sense of meaning.

There isn’t a recipe for this. And it certainly should not be imposed. One size does NOT necessarily fit all!! But psychological insight and loving reflection can help us with some simple yet profound ideas that will work for many people.

That life is constantly changing is a given. But the changes that come with illness often feel incredibly badly timed! And so unwelcome. Nonetheless, when the reality of illness hits us, or someone close to us, it can force us to take stock in ways we might not when things are going well. In fact, it can push us to “audit” what we believe matters most in our lives – where we want to give our time and attention – and what really doesn’t.

In my work with Breast Cancer Network Australia I often say that an illness like cancer gives us the chance to let go of what no longer benefits us and take up what does. Making those choices (and continuing to make them) is wonderfully empowering. Knowing that there is no better time than NOW is also wonderfully freeing.

When we haven’t chosen the changes in our lives – or the inner sense of confusion or chaos that sometimes accompanies serious illness – many of us will feel emotionally fragile or even out of control. It’s often at those times that our usual ways of coping with change come under most strain or even come undone. People say to me, “I feel I am at a loss for the first time in my life.” Or, “I can’t bear feeling as though this [illness] has more power over my life than I have.”  I also hear, “I should be coping better than this…” which can add self-blame to an already potent mix of feelings.

Often, too, the stress of our diagnosis and treatment is all that we can effectively cope with. That means we simply must identify any other stress or unresolved difficulties or frustrations in our lives – and deal with them effectively.  It also means we can no longer postpone what we most want to do – especially when it adds pleasure and delight to our lives.

For many people those small, powerful changes in attitude and focus are not just positive; they are life changing. They certainly have been for me.

Some of you will know me through my books. I have been writing for many years now and my writing includes Choosing Happiness: Life & Soul Essentials, Forgiveness and Other Acts of Love, Intimacy and Solitude and Seeking the Sacred.  You may also have read the column, “Inner Life”, that I wrote for Good Weekend for nine years. Or heard me on radio.

What you may not know is that I’m a breast cancer survivor myself and have also worked with Breast Cancer Network Australia for more than ten years, offering wellbeing presentations at their forums throughout Australia.

In my own immediate family, two aunts and my beautiful mother died before they were forty. My mother was only 37. So I learned first-hand and very early how crucial the choices are that we make after a serious illness.

My own response during and post-cancer was to focus on the qualities that eventually I wrote about in Forgiveness and Other Acts of Love.  They were courage, fidelity (to my values), restraint, generosity, tolerance and forgiveness.  I did this not because I wanted to be a “better person”, but because as a mother of two young children I needed to be a braver and wiser one – even a happier one. The alternative for me was to drown in my own anxieties, and I couldn’t afford that for their sake or mine.

There were good days and less good ones, but my stubborn focus on those qualities, and my increasing trust in them and familiarity with how they resonated in my life, really did change my life for the better. This doesn’t mean that I am glad that cancer is part of my story; it does mean that I am more appreciative than ever about life and living.

On 11 April Dr Stephanie Dowrick will begin the first of six evening workshops in the “Support for Life” Sydney series. Although this is Stephanie’s first group with Quest, she has been running groups for many years and also working with Breast Cancer Network..

For further details and bookings for Stephanie’s “Support for Life” visit the Quest for Life website. You are invited to join Stephanie on her Facebook page or visit her website.

Stephanie Dowrick

Stephanie Dowrick

Reverend Stephanie Dowrick, PhD  is best known as the author of life-changing, accessible books that are encouraging and inclusive. They include Intimacy and Solitude, Forgiveness and Other Acts of Love, The Universal Heart and Choosing Happiness: Life & Soul Essentials.  Her newest book (2010) is Seeking the Sacred: Transforming Our View of Ourselves and One Another.

She is a qualified psychotherapist and an ordained interfaith minister and has been leading and teaching groups of many kinds for more than two decades, including spiritual retreats and well being groups. She is in constant demand as a speaker both nationally and internationally.

Stephanie was born in New Zealand and lived in Europe for many years. She was founder and first Managing Director of the London publishing house, The Women’s Press. She came to Australia in 1983 and has lived in Sydney ever since. She was the “Inner Life” columnist for Good Weekend Magazine from 2001-2010 (Sydney Morning Herald and The Age), and for many years has been a regular guest on ABC Radio. Stephanie is currently an Adjunct Fellow with the Writing & Society Research Group at the University of Western Sydney where she completed her doctorate in 2008.  She works regularly with Breast Cancer Network Australia and is also an active ambassador with the International Women’s Development Agency. She gives regular interfaith service at Pitt Street Uniting Church in Sydney, is the mother of two adult children and lives in Sydney.

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