Posted in Community, Emotional Health, overcoming adversity, Relationships

Unlikely Best Friends

We meet many people throughout our lives. People come and go and if we’re lucky some of them will stay for long periods of time, even forever. This type of relationship is not only heartwarming, but can have substantial health benefits because of the mind-body connection.

Lacey Holsworth is a young girl facing a life-threatening battle with cancer. When the Michigan State University’s basketball team visited the hospital a relationship was born. Lacey and Adreian Payne bonded in a most unique way. He is considered by himself and Lacey’s family to be a part of the Holsworth family. How can you explain the relationship between a 6’10” basketball player and an 8-year-old cancer patient? It’s easy….LOVE!!!

The story was broadcast this morning on Good Morning America. Seeing Adreian and Lacey interact goes far beyond being cute. It moves us into the realm of how love and relationships can serve as a healing tool. Human connection, a sense of belonging, and empathy are some of the things that bring people together and help reduce suffering, isolation, and depression.

It would be easy to think that the benefits of this relationship are only for Lacey, but Adreian benefits as well. His heart is opened and that makes all the relationships in his life more meaningful and felt at a deeper level. The ability to express love and concern for others translates into all areas of our lives. It makes us better family members, better students, better athletes, overall, better humans!

Who has come into your life and left a lasting impression? How are the relationships in your life part of your healthcare plan? Are you aware of the people who cross your path and are meant to be part of your life from here to eternity? We’d love to hear your stories! Feel free to tell us your story in the comment section below!

Posted in after the diagnosis, Community, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness

There’s A Community Out There Waiting for You!

There are so many times when facing a chronic or life-threatening illness that we feel alone. It’s not a surprise because it’s happening to us and while in a state of shock, it’s hard to believe that anyone else could possibly be experiencing turmoil and confusion.

I’ve been fortunate over the past twenty-five years to work in nonprofit agencies that promoted a sense of community. We’re all stronger when we align with others on a similar path. Over the past twenty years we have seen the proliferation of nonprofit organizations that are illness specific. They provide support services and education about living with the specific diagnosis.

I was reminded of that this past week when I had a conversation with someone who recently moved to the Denver area. He’d spent years in New Mexico and moved to Denver to have a broader sense of community. He was pursuing a deeper spiritual path, but felt he needed a broader sense of community.

Listening to his story made me think about the impact of having a sense of community. Knowing that you belong to something greater than yourself is empowering. It doesn’t only pertain to having an illness; I find the same comfort in the art guild I belong (275 members). We form a sense of community and the numbers of people that attend the monthly meetings, participate in critique groups, and come together to create amazing exhibits.

This morning I began looking at organizations that provide social activities in the Denver area. The idea of being amongst others, participating and generating communal energy is uplifting. The sense of belonging it critical to our well-being. It decreases the circular thinking that often gets us in trouble because we are getting feedback from others.

What are you doing to stay connected? How does developing a sense of community provide your immune system with a boost? What is it about community that you value most? I’d love to hear about your community experience; I hope you’ll share it in the comment section below.

Looking for more information about living with chronic and life-threatening illness? Go to www.survivingstrong.com for more resources and opportunities!

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, overcoming adversity

Telling Stories is Important

I’m always on the lookout for a good story. I’ve listened to thousands of stories in support groups over the past twenty-five years and have learned from each and every story. In addition to spoken stories, I’ve assimilated stories from books into my storytelling repertoire. These stories become important catalysts to pass on valuable information and prompt people to seek out their own uplifting, solution based stories.

If you’ve read my past blog posts you know that my mother was diagnosed with diabetes about four years ago. She’s a health and healing champion. She’s inquisitive and a good advocate for herself with her medical team. The one thing that continually pops up is the idea of hope. I know it’s something I struggle with when dealing with my own health issues.

I shared a story from Jerome Groopman’s, “The Anatomy of Hope” and she was intrigued. The story peeked her interest to the point that she went to the library and checked out the book. She also took the inspirational story one step further; at her next doctor appointment she told the nurse practioner about Groopman’s book spreading the inspiration.

Hope can be contagious. It can be derived from personal experiences, spiritual experiences, and stories from others. It is available to all of us in times of need as long as we search for it. Hope can seem elusive, but it’s important to never stop the search. We don’t have to have all the answers; we just have to learn where to look for clues to where hope lives.

I find acquiring a stockpile of stories of hope gives me a well to draw from in times of need. These stories are like having my own personal reservoir of hope. There are times, just like in nature that the reservoir levels are low; that’s the motivation to acquire new inspiring stories.

We all need hope. Knowing where to find it is paramount to your experience of hope. I hope you’ll develop your own reservoir of hope. I’d love to hear some of your hope inspiring stories.   If you have a story or resource feel free to share it with us in the comment section below or you can reach me at greg@survivingstrong.com. For additional information check out http://www.survivingstrong.com.