Living/Dying Project Client Stories

David Buddy Story, by His Sister, Mira Goetsch, LDP Volunteer

On January 1st of the new year of 2014, the phone rang with the voice of my sister in law, who I hadn’t spoken with for several years. I could hear the terror in her voice, as she tried to control it while relating the events of the past few days that led to the minutes old diagnosis of bladder cancer. The shock felt by the family was deepened by the 1968 death of our father, 57 years old, of bladder cancer.  (Read More)

Just This. by Marcie Warrington

We hear this all the time. We preach this all the time. Yet, still, despite the wise teachings of our chosen spiritual guides and our best intentions, we continue to judge others whose shoes we have never tied much less walked in. Today, right now, I speak of suicide: the sin of many religions; the shame and guilt heaped on loved ones left behind; and the endless judgments we invariably make as human beings. (Read More)

Spiritual Care at Stanford Hospital by Serena Salomon, LDP Volunteer

For around five years I’ve been a spiritual care volunteer at Stanford Hospital. I’m in the interfaith group which means I see all those patients who state that they have no religious preference, as well as some small denominations who have no volunteer representative of their faith group. (Read More)

Recollections of Javier by Sam Geffner, LDP Volunteer

Although I knew Javier only briefly, and saw him only 5 times before his recent death, each of my interactions with him was unique, meaningful, and heart-opening.  He was that kind of a person during the time I knew him.  He was a sweet man, who bore the pain of his illness with a stoic resolve and a smile that was informed by his Christian faith and the firm belief that God had a plan for him which justified the discomfort of a protracted dying process. (Read More)

Miracles Abound – David Borglum

While my health remains very precarious and it’s been a tough couple of weeks pain wise, my spirit has never been more free; I’m learning to laugh and sing in a whole new way.  In some strange way, having cancer and so many experiences around it has opened my heart. (Read More)

Doug Wallace, LDP Volunteer, Interviewing David Borglum
on October 30, 2014, the night before David died

Doug: David, can you tell me what your experience has been since you were diagnosed with cancer.
David: Having cancer has profoundly affected my life. At first I was relatively stable. I was feeling signs of hopefulness and also a sense of spiritual awakening, a sense of just being alive more and more to the present moment. (Read More)

Finding God in Our Hearts by Mike Murphy, LDP Volunteer

My wife, Margot, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in July of 2002. She was twenty-nine years old at the time. Over the years she pursued both conventional and alternative treatments, but in June of 2011, she was told she had no more than a week to live… (Read More)

Lori Ingram and Her Relationship with Client Renee

When I started working with Renee I knew just a little of her life and circumstances – that she had a rare form of muscle cancer she’d treated successfully with chemotherapy years earlier, but which had recently returned with a vengeance. That she’d just purchased a home in Sonoma to be near her daughters and granddaughters … (Read More)

A Graceful Journey

When I met Denlow and Melissa all I knew about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, I’d learned from the deeply moving book Tuesdays with Morrie.  Written by Mitch Albom, the book relates weekly meetings this Detroit sportswriter had with his former professor who was afflicted with this disease best known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” (Read More)

The Journey Continues

A year has passed since I wrote about Denlow Enlow in last year’s newsletter. Melissa Enlow contacted the Living/Dying Project in 2007 to ask for spiritual support for her husband, who had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).  We’ve been meeting once a week for over a year and a half.
(Read More)

The Journey Ends

Denlow Enlow died on March 18, 2009 after four years struggling with the ravages of Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS.  Those who’ve been following his journey over the last two years in the pages of the Living/Dying Project newsletter are aware that Denlow was a remarkable man who met the challenges of his disease with grace and good humor… (Read More)

There is Life After Diagnosis

I have been living with synovial sarcoma, a rare cancer of the connective tissues, for almost ten years. My most profound and ongoing challenge has been dealing with loss – loss of health, energy, physical abilities, independence, innocence – and how to grieve for those losses in order to remain open to life… (Read More)

Rare Form

I had a good life in Laguna Beach. I could see the ocean every day. I was a beach girl. I really loved it. When I worked, I worked hard. I was a hard worker. During the day I was an optician. At night I worked at restaurants. The last was a hot spot where everyone wanted to go. The wait was 3 hours – I would tell people that they should go out and eat, then come back when the wait was over. I seated many famous people – Tiger Woods, Vanna White, and Kobe Bryant… (Read More)

Both Sides

I have been noticing that when I look at the world without thoughts, I see forms,the lines and shapes of things, as if I am looking at them for the first time. It is like I am in nature. here in Detroit in gasoline alley. When I was looking at my mother as she was dying, I saw her and the emptiness, the mystery, all of what I don’t understand or know. I experienced a sense of awe and wonder. (Read More)

Approaching the Unspeakable

The body passes away. Everything is impermanent except love of God. –Maharaji
This spring, I went to do the intake interview with Melissa Spivack, a 47-year-old woman who is almost four years into her journey with ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, best known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. (Read More)

Bump in the Road

For the next nine months I met with Eric every Friday on that sun porch. Our conversations touched on many subjects, but it was the fact his illness had taken a turn for the worse and he wished to explore the possibility he was going to die, that brought us together. That didn’t stop him from getting medical treatment when warranted and some of our conversations touched on this as well. But typically, we would gaze out the window and muse about both living and dying… (Read More)

Wrestling with Mortality

Mary Beth is a curious person.  The discovery after many years of medical uncertainty that she does in fact suffer from a variant of ALS hardly answered her questions.  In fact, it became the occasion for even deeper exploration.  This was not how she imagined her life would unfold as she cared for her young son Nico while producing films from her home base in Los Angeles as a visual anthropologist. (Read More)

Living in the Context of Dying

Will came to San Francisco in the early 1980’s, which put him at the front lines when this disease appeared. He found himself infected with HIV by the middle of the decade and soon became a member of one of the early support groups created for those infected. Over the years Will was a member of the Westside Community Health group, it ranged in size from fifteen to twenty-five participants. As members died or moved on, new members would join. (Read More)

A Gift of Peace

My eighty-nine year old mother had been battling multiple myeloma for two and a half years.  This is a rather rare form of bone marrow cancer that affects the production of blood cells, ultimately deteriorating the bones.  She had gone through successive chemo and radiation treatments which had bought her time; (Read More)