The Annie Appleseed conference was a great venue to connect in person with people I’ve only met online. One of them is miracle survivor Jeannine Walston, our guest blogger today. A 13-year brain tumor survivor, Jeannine was first diagnosed in March 1998 at age 24. Her experience led her to helping others find integrative paths to healing through EmbodiWorks , an online resource for integrative cancer options.
I love EmbodiWorks philosophy: “Integrative cancer care is about placing the person with cancer in the center of their community, the center of the room, the center of the conversation, the center of themselves. Recognizing that each person is not defined by their diagnosis. Seeing each person confronting the disease as integrated. Helping each person embrace themselves as intact and completewhole today and for the balance of life.”
Here’s Jeannine’s story:
After 12 hours of awake-brain surgery at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the entire visible low-grade glioma was removed along with some surrounding tissue.
Since my follow-up conventional cancer care only consisted of ongoing MRI scans, I learned about strategies to support my own health and healing. I knew from the inside out that my wellness required much more than care for the tumor. So I began my journey of learning about whole-person cancer care.
I returned to my job in the U.S. Congress, but was no longer interested in law school. With a desire to help others, I began volunteering for brain tumor non-profits, eventually leading to jobs at National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and The Children’s Cause for Cancer Advocacy.
The time was ripe to include cancer patient advocates in conversations with government agencies and drug development companies. I served as a consultant at the National Cancer Institute and Food and Drug Administration and later joined NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Yet, my personal health journey transformed once again. Although the brain tumor recurred in 2000, I was not told about the recurrence until February 2004. Despite my frequent MRI scans and appointments to receive the results, my neuro-oncologist at a well-known cancer facility did not tell me about my recurrence for four years. That was his only job, and he failed. I tended to my health with cancer treatments protocols in Germany, Switzerland, and with Nicholas Gonzalez, MD, in New York.
Through my work and experiences with other cancer survivors, it was clear I needed to better serve cancer patients with integrative cancer care education and advocacy. After working behind the scenes as a co-founder with a group of others, we launched an educational website through EmbodiWorks, an integrative cancer care non-profit organization, in September 2010. Our vision is to create a better world by providing definitive, reliable educational resources and supporting advocacy focused on integrative cancer care. By doing so, our goal is to reduce cancer risk and improve cancer-related survival, quality of life, and whole person health care.
EmbodiWorks addresses whole-person health and healing in five areas–body, mind, spirit, social, and environmental. We also provide resources to help people with cancer negotiate and navigate their health and healing path. Our resources include:
a listing of providers and clinics
questions to evaluate options
maps to integrative cancer care, retreats, books, social networking, psychosocial support, research tips, and much more.
In addition to work at EmbodiWorks, Jeannine provides writing, research, and marketing services through her company, Healing Focus. For more information about EmbodiWorks, visit www.embodiworks.org.
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