Detour to Enlightenment
Vermont Lee is on a mission to heal her body and restore her sense of peace and well-being.
“My physical health has been weakened by cancer treatment. It was also a very emotional process. Now I need to focus my energy on healing and really try to reconnect my mind and my body,” she said at a recent visit to Wellspring Calgary.
Vermont was working full-time as a registered dietitian in a long-term care facility when she was diagnosed with uterine cancer in the summer of 2014. Despite the terrible shock, she thought it was best to keep working… which she did until just two days before her scheduled surgery.
“My way of coping at work was to keep it all inside, but this was very hard on me, I was extremely emotional,” she said.
Nine days after a successful hysterectomy, Vermont found herself in excruciating pain that turned out to be a mechanical bowel obstruction secondary to post operation adhesions. The setback landed her back in hospital for nearly a month.
“The second surgery was much harder on me than the first,” she said.“I was worried – I had to get my strength back quickly to prepare for the chemotherapy that I knew was coming next.”
Luckily for Vermont, her husband John was at her side every step of the way. While Vermont turned her attention inward to healing herself, John assumed the role of caregiver.
“It’s easy to share the good times and good fortunes but the real test in a marriage comes when you have bad times and sickness,” said John, noting that the couple went from being busy with their lives and their jobs to spending all their time together around the clock. “These times can easily put you in a very vulnerable state and reveal your weaknesses; your impatience, your ignorance, your misunderstandings… I had a lot of work to do myself.”
The pair shared that their new reality came with plenty of emotional upheaval. While John questioned why and had to process anger and grief on his way to acceptance, Vermont said she tried not to ask why, but set her sights on moving forward – relying on her faith to help her navigate the challenging path. Both said fear of the unknown was one of their biggest hurdles.
When Vermont and John learned about Wellspring Calgary, they were relieved to find a community where others understood the journey they were on. They signed up to take several programs together, including Yoga and Qigong, which helped to quiet their minds and balance their energy, and Healthy Steps™ which helped improve their physical stamina. Both said they enjoyed all the classes but they were most taken with the Creative Journaling program.
“This program asks you to dig deep… to honestly open up and ask important questions about yourself and what matters to you,” said John. “It helps you process all your emotions and find your way to peace and acceptance.”
For Vermont, Creative Journaling helped relax her body and quell the anxiety. “I remembered crying in one of the classes after hearing everyone share their cancer experiences. Opening up and talking about my story was cathartic for me. It was a way for me to reconnect with my emotions,” she said.
Cancer is not what John and Vermont signed up for – but both say it has strengthened their marriage and deepened them individually in unexpected ways. They say that the programs and community Wellspring offers has played a significant role in their personal growth following Vermont’s cancer treatment.
“We are extremely blessed and appreciative of the support Wellspring has given us. Our experience in this community has certainly demonstrated Wellspring’s mission that you don’t have to face cancer alone. Of all the things I’ve learned along the way, it’s to enjoy the moment and take everything as it comes,” says Vermont.