Why seeing seriously ill clients makes me feel good…it’s not what you think!

I’ve been seeing a number of challenging herbal consultation clients lately.   A local doctor tends to send me his patients who either do not want to pursue the care he can offer them or who specifically ask for an alternative or complement to their current protocol. Hence, I see some seriously ill people. And this usually makes me feel good. Let me tell you why.

Take Janice, for instance. Not her real name, of course. Janice is a beautiful, vibrant, woman in her early elder years, full of good energy, well developed skills and plenty of both love and hope. She also has stage four lung cancer. After several radiation treatments she became so sick she made the decision not to continue. She asked her doctor what else she could do. That’s when he referred her to me.

When I met Janice she was sitting in the passenger seat of her car, somewhat hunched over and wearing a wig. Her skin was grey and she did not have the strength to get out of the car and walk the little way to my office. We consulted right there.

Despite her poor surface/exterior appearance, as we spoke I could see a light shining in her eyes…a real lively twinkle. I felt we could count on that twinkle to become a bright light. I told her so…and we began working together. By the time her husband drove her back down my driveway, she was sitting just a bit taller in her seat, had a well chosen package of herbal health support in her lap and was thanking me profusely.

Janice was not hoping to cure her cancer. She merely wanted to get to a comfortable place so that she could enjoy what life she had left. I committed myself to helping her achieve this goal.

Janice’s tongue, mouth and throat were very dry and burnt from the treatments, so I offered her a tea containing marshmallow leaves and flowers, calendula flowers, licorice root, slippery elm and a sprinkling of mint to soothe and heal. She drank the tea cooled and it worked as I expected; she reported right away that it gave her great relief.

astragalus flowersI also offered her a Mushroot Chai Deep Immune Tonic. It is made with a variety of medicinal mushrooms, American ginseng and Astragalus roots, some tasty spices, organic alcohol, H2O and pure Maine honey. I thought it would be a good over-all nourishing tonic for her, something to boost her vitality, heal the trauma as well as enhance and rebuild immunity. These fungi and roots possess tumor inhibiting constituents and that would be working in her favor as well. I do not expect this tonic to eliminate her cancer, but I figure those tumor inhibiting actions might help slow/delay her cancer’s progression while building her strength enough to continue to resist it. ginseng12I gave her a simple lung tonic tincture as well, made with mullein, hyssop and thyme, intended to help keep her air passageways open and lungs free of infection. Mullein leaves are a trophorestorative for the respiratory system and I counted on this simple combination formula to help direct the healing action of the herbs to her lungs and respiratory system as well.

After a week of taking the herbs Janice said she felt nothing less than ecstatic at the results. “Even better than I hoped for” is how she described it. Her throat felt cool and soothed and she enjoyed drinking the tea, sipping it throughout the day. She was beginning to feel stronger and had more energy. A couple of months later, still continuing with the herbal formulas, she had improved so much that she was able to resume her weekly hour-long radio show. Her skin had a healthy, pink glow when I saw her last. Those twinkling eyes of hers were glowing quite a bit brighter. She still has the cancer, but she is living with it.

010Over the last seven or so months that I have been working with Janice I’ve alternated the Mushroot Chai Tonic with an adaptogen blend specifically formulated as a lung tonic. It contains reishi, licorice, American ginseng, Schisandra, Astragalus and holy basil, organic alcohol, H2O and pure Maine honey. She continues to use the Decongestant formula as well as the tea on a daily basis. She reports that her quality and enjoyment of life has greatly improved since she started on her herbal regime.

The one problem Janice has reported increased is the pain in her leg where the cancer has spread. This has begun to impede her mobility. She did not want to take a pharmaceutical pain reliever. At least not yet.

005I offered her a pain easing salve, made with St. Johns’wort, olive oil, bees wax and warming, pain relieving essential oils of bay, ginger, cinnamon and clove for external application. My hope is that the salve will help alleviate the pain enough to extend her comfort and mobility enough to continue getting around her house, going into the studio and so on.

Janice eats well and includes a lot of fresh, locally grown and raised foods in her diet. She has the support of a loving husband and her Christian community. She has an attitude of gratefulness just to be alive. She is actually quite inspiring to work with.

387546_10151348325969143_1452158987_nJanice is looking forward to spring when she plans to visit me on the farm again. She says she wants to see the gardens where I grow these herbs she feels have given her a new lease on life and lots to look forward to.

People like Janice become like living Buddhas…they teach us how to embrace courage,  how to live and love every day in the face of death and still choose to be thankful.

And THIS is what makes me feel so good about seeing seriously ill clients. They live! They thrive! And every now and then they even get all better! And the one’s that don’t get better? They do eventually die…which can be a beautiful healing process all its own.

About gailfaithedwards

Gail Faith Edwards is an internationally recognized Community Herbalist with over thirty years experience. She is the author of three books about herbs and herbal medicines; Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs, Traversing the Wild Terrain of Menopause and Through the Wild Heart of Mary; Teachings of the 20 Mysteries of the Rosary and the Herbs and Foods Associated with Them. Gail has taught Herbal Medicine in India and Italy, at the Yale School of Nursing, the University of Maine and College of the Atlantic among others. She is the founder of Blessed Maine Herb Farm and Director of the Blessed Maine Herb Farm School of Herbal Medicine. She is the mother of four grown children and the grandmother of two.
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6 Responses to Why seeing seriously ill clients makes me feel good…it’s not what you think!

  1. Amber Pixie says:

    Yay, Gail…and yay Janice! That’s a beautiful support system, and I’m so glad she has the relief to enjoy her time here. 🙂

  2. Sylvia V says:

    What a fabulous post. I think it’s wonderful that you have a doctor who refers to you. And it’s so wonderful that this woman is able to have an enjoyable time of what is left of her earthly days.

  3. This was very inspirational, Gail! I thank you for sharing this story.

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