In the Spring, I attended a local meeting here in Atlanta that was sponsored by the Annie Appleseed Project which presented natural strategies to integrative therapies with conventional therapies (chemotherapy, radiation, etc.) for cancer. While I am not an advocate of the conventional therapies for myself, I still believe that the cancer battle should be one that includes a decision that is prayerful and empowered by knowledge, motivated by faith and not fear, and should be the patient’s decision. Healing Strong is about empowering individuals to know more about natural non-toxic methods to support cancer healing. Our cancer battle plan, is our battle plan — ultimately, we are the ones who must walk in it. I appreciate Annie Appleseed Project’s mission. They do a great job at providing integrative experiences and success stories. The founder, Ann Fonfa, fought her advanced metastatic breast cancer with a double mastectomy, but did not incorporate chemotherapy into her healing protocol. More then a decade later, she is healing strong. I met one of Annie Appleseed’s board members at the meeting who has done a more integrative approach to healing, and she has inspired me to write this post.
Linda McDonald is a patient advocate, educator, dancer, wife, mother and grandmother. She is also a 3 time cancer survivor. Her first cancer diagnosis was at the age of 3. Since then, she was diagnosed two other times, 30 years apart, and most recently she has survived breast cancer. Linda did utilize conventional oncology and is an advocate of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, incorporating chemotherapy and integrative healing into her regimen. I asked Linda what else she did to fight her cancer, continuing her journey today to heal strong. She strongly believes that eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with juicing is key to health. She limits sugar, salt, and fats. She also strongly believes that breathing and movement is key to health. (Honestly, this is one area of my life I have been complacent about. I am a researcher and I spend way too much time behind a computer everyday. The thought of exercise pains me. Linda’s approach was a little different.)
I couldn’t wait to hear her presentation of movement and healing. It began with some wonderful music, and at times, I felt silly doing some of the techniques she suggested. Many of her methods utilized tools such as hula-hoops, ropes, parachutes, balls, and scarves. But by the end of her presentation, all of us in the room were laughing and enjoying our time — (though my husband, Jeff, was not impressed with the connection of hula hooping and health, he did crack a smile before it was over.) What I later learned about Linda is that she has a true heart and passion for children and has written a children’s book: Dancing Cancer.
It really is her personal story, as told from a grandmother’s perspective — and is about Linda as a little girl who loved to dance and move, and even though the cancer had come back, she continues to follow her hopes and dreams. The book is beautifully illustrated with vibrant colors and the message really is universal. Retold as an uplifting story to her two grandchildren, Dancing Cancer (published by AuthorHouse) is a story of survival. Never one to be defeated, McDonald continued to follow her heart and chase her dreams of dancing, challenging young readers to reach with faith and not fear. At the end of her book, Linda writes this:
“We must turn our scars into stars. We can look on the good side of everything. All things work together for good. Many things are not good, but they can work together for our good. We must believe. …God has a special purpose for everyone. He has placed a special dream or desire in everyone’s heart. It is our job to find out and follow that dream. If you seek and follow that dream, it can lead to an exciting and fulfilling life. “Through the grace of God, my faith in him, the love and care of my family, friends, and medical professionals, I continue teaching, moving and dancing through life, following the path set before me and remembering the song I learned so long ago —
“Jesus loves me. This I know
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak but He is strong
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.”
Linda’s attitude is very positive. She gives thanks to the Lord who can turn our messes into blessings — He has a special plan for our life. I couldn’t agree more!