Herstory: She Can Thrive

The ‘Herstory: She Can’ series profiles women I encounter along my travels, sharing the story of her own odyssey.

Jaki and Henry invited us to share the vision of Her Odyssey with a group of peace colleagues at their eclectic home in Brooklyn. Her loving spirit radiated from the moment she opened the door, welcoming us in with hugs, until we left when she popped her head out the front door, “I love you,” she called out. I love her back, for her gentle heart, conscientiousness of self and the world around, and her indomitable spirit. We are proud to introduce, Jaki.

wpid-photo_2015-09-13_08-58-19_pm.pngThe list of touch points of her life is long; mother, wife, grandmother,  activist, demonstrator, sophisticated hippie, teacher, traveler, blogger, and proponent of macrobiotics. She has a knack for seeing and celebrating the interconnectedness of all thing. “I’ve had a full life,” she said, simply.

In a talk at the Kushi Institute she shared, “I am a cancer survivor but I really am much more than a cancer survivor. I see myself as a leader of spiritual, and creative and physical expression. I am 70 and I have taught and lived in west Africa for almost 5 years.”

Seven years ago doctors identified a cancerous tumor in her endometrium. They quickly scheduled a radical hysterectomy. She began writing about the journey in a blog. She called upon her friends and family to wrap her in a “pink blanket of love” and wrote out positive affirmations for the anesthesiologist to read while she was in surgery.

The procedure appeared to have been successful, and she felt as if she had escaped a bad nightmare. Three months later, tumors returned and had metastasized to her subcutaneous abdominal tissue and she was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic cancer.

In her next breathe she shares, “so, this is what I did, this is what helped me heal.” She stopped taking hormone replacement therapy. They consulted various OBGYN oncologists; the first 2 said, “this shouldn’t have happened, we don’t really know what to do.” Jaki would not submit to hopelessness.

On their third try, referred by a good friend, she went to Dr. Koulos at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center said, “We can do this. You can live with this.” They started her on chemotherapy.

“But I knew I needed to do more than that.” She began researching, and macrobiotics kept coming up; something about it spoke to her. Again, having the courage and wisdom to reach out for guidance, she was advised by a dear friend who had been practicing for many years already to find a macrobiotics counselor. She continue to be surrounded by love of family, continued writing, mediating, and praying. Eventually, the doctors consistently found no evidence of disease and she was pronounced cured.

“I’m really realizing that macrobiotics is a lifelong commitment. It is more than what I eat. What I eat has opened me to growing and continuing to heal Though I’ve been told I am cured of cancer, I continue to need to grow and heal spiritually, physically, and emotionally. And I am doing that.”

She continues forward, wrapped in love, affirmation, and positive, forward action. Today she and Henry work with Brooklyn for Peace, taking an active role to support what they believe in. She concludes, “most of all, laughing. Lots of laughing. I’m very thankful every day to be enjoying life every day; in all its ups and downs.”

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