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Monday, January 27, 2014

"A Healing Place" by Colette Montez

Dear Readers,
My dear friend Colette Montez embodies a passion for living.  As a fellow sister in TEAL her experiences, wisdom, heart and dedication, have helped me become a better person living with ovarian cancer. 
Thank you sweet Colette for taking us to your healing place!
Find one, create one, visit one, it is important that you do so!
Quality of life. It’s a term bandied about by the medical profession. They most often refer to the physical quality of life, but this phrase can and should also encompass the emotional quality of life as we live with cancer. Part of maintaining an emotional stability while facing a threatening illness is to be able to carry on and live life as normally as we possibly can and as well as we can. Maybe we cannot carry on exactly as we’ve done prior to our diagnosis. However if we can get a break of normalcy every now and then, our attitude will be so much better and that in turn keeps our body healthier.

During Christmas break I took my retreat to a town that is close enough to be easily doable, but far enough away to feel like I’ve gotten away. It involves a drive, a Washington state ferry ride and another drive, to transport me to a place that I feel heals me.

There was the beach, desolate and solitary in the coldness of December. Sand wet from the misty rain, treasures of sea glass and shells and pebbles brought in by the tide. Herons, gulls and crows constitute the wild life that I see, my eyes scanning the water for any porpoise with purpose which on this trip I do not find. I watch a ferry in the distance coming in to the dock of the town.

I think happy thoughts, feeling well to be able to walk the beach to a lighthouse, remembering past trips, immersing myself in a fantastically interesting sky. God’s light streaming through the clouds, fat, white, shades of gray cotton balls that are scudding across the sky with the wind.

This is my getaway trip, my retreat where I sometimes go. I journey to this healing place sometimes alone, sometimes with family. There are no rules to any of it except one. I don’t think of cancer. I act like I will live until I’m 90. I go into town and shop. I buy myself something nice, never worrying or considering about whether I can use it enough before I die. There is even a bead shop there and this particular trip I pick up a strand of chocolate freshwater pearls that I will add to wire wrapped necklace I’ve already created with white pearls. The chocolate and the white will add more visual interest together then alone.

Eating good meals at the restaurants I enjoy brings to my mind how grateful I am to be so well at this time. I enjoy and savor each bite. One can really appreciate eating after having had meals through an IV drip!

After a night in my favorite hotel, I awaken to screams and indignant screeches of the seagulls. I know instantly where I am and it completes the auditory segment of the picture of a seaport town.

It’s important to have a healing place that you can go to. So much of this illness is emotional and mental in nature. We have Doctors who can address our physical discomforts and illness, but how many of us have someone or somewhere to go with the emotional turmoil that cancer creates? Find a place. Go there for a healthy distraction.

When I was first diagnosed, I'd visit this town and wonder if I’d be back the following year. Now, four and half years from diagnosis, I go to this place on the Olympic Peninsula and never worry if I will be back. I just plan on being back and so far that has worked just fine! Someday will be my last trip, but I don’t concern myself which trip that will be. I just revel how grateful I am to be able to come back here each time I need to. Create memories, see the natural world and leave my treatments and procedures for 48 or 72 hours.

My current photo is of Terry, my Norwich terrier, at our healing place. We’re at the beach where she can walk on sand and spy on the gulls that remain frustratingly out of her reach due to her leash! The first time I brought her she ran to the water, took one drink, tensed her face and never did that again! She was a rescue dog off the streets of Los Angeles and captive on death row in a kill shelter when the rescue group saved her. I can only assume Terry had never seen such a body of water, or even been on a beach before.

Now as the photo shows, Terry is sitting on the driftwood, reflective, calm, content, churning her doggie thoughts over and you come to figure that maybe even the dog needs a healing place where they can just “be” in the moment with all nature’s beauty at paw.

I fervently hope that all of you have a healing place, be it far or near, that you can get a much needed mental break from all your troubles. Renewed, refreshed and once again hopeful.
Colette Montez


  1. dear denise,

    thank you for sharing Colette's wonderful and evocative story of her very special healing place.

    and dear Colette, you are so right - we all need emotional quality of life. as I read about your way to ensure you have that life-enhancing experience, the one you have so beautifully created for yourself, I was very inspired to start thinking of how I could do the same. I am a fairly new widow -my husband and I had cancer together; he passed away suddenly, then just 8 weeks later, I was dx'd with another, unrelated cancer. as I transition from the raw grief and shock of these 2 overlapping life altering events, and coming to the end of my treatment, your story has helped me so much. it's lovely, but still a little scary, too, to think of setting off on my own, but I think it would be so worth while to start dreaming of my own healing place. I bet this post will resonate with many others who could use somewhere to go to be refreshed and renewed, filled with hope and being grateful for just being alive and able to savor the natural beauty of a spot. again, my heartfelt thanks to both you and denise.

    much love and light,


    1. Dear Karen, I too was so inspired by Colette. I am motivated to make every space a healing place. I have no retreat but will find one now. Thank you for your reply and I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Peace, Denise

    2. Hi Karen,

      Thank you for your reply. I'm so glad it was helpful to you. I wish you all the best in the future with good health, love and joy. Colette


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