Sunday, April 27, 2008


To meet her, you would never know that my friend Judy has had to face a breast cancer diagnosis three times: originally in 1993, then four years later in the same breast, and then four years after that in the chest wall.

I’d be hard pressed to think of someone with a bigger heart than Judy. A memory I have of her experience walking a labyrinth at a breast cancer retreat really tells a story about the kind of person she is.

For anyone not familiar with labyrinths, it’s a kind of maize that you walk as a form of mediation. We were at this wonderful retreat centre surrounded by nature; there was beautiful flute music playing in the background; it was nighttime and we were walking a labyrinth by candlelight. It was the first experience walking a labyrinth for most of the women and many found it to be a spirtual and moving experience.

Afterwards, Judy commented on a woman that was struggling with a serious health setback and had become very emotional during the labyrinth walk. Judy said that as she passed her in the labyrinth, she could feel herself take on some of the woman’s pain.

When I said that I was sorry that she had such a negative experience, Judy exclaimed, “No, no, I was happy, that maybe some of her pain transferred to me and relieved her of some of her burden!

That's just the kind of person she is. Judy writes:

I look at life as a gift-full of surprises and opportunities. I feel stronger and more confident. Seldom will I refuse the offer of an adventure. In the past few years I've run a half marathon. ripped down zip lines, skied in shorts, skinny dipped, etc. Sometimes in the midst of one of these adventures, surrounded by kindred spirits and the beauty of nature I am overcome by a feeling of utter peace. In these moments I realize that I have found heaven on earth. This is the silver lining.

The most helpful thing you can do for yourself is seek the company of others in the same boat who are living life to the fullest. Surround yourself with positive energy and enjoy each day. And never say "no" to an adventure.

These pictures were taken high above the trees at an aerial park -- on Judy's 60th birthday!

(And yes, it's no surprise that Judy's one of the women skiing in shorts in my last post.)

You can read Judy's full story, in her own words here:

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