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Inspirational Stories

Shaun

AML Survivor

Sebastopol, CA

I endured poor-prognosis acute myeloid leukemia (AML), multiple rounds of brutal chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, and an open heart surgery - all for only a small chance of survival. The journey since has been more than difficult. Lingering effects of the lifesaving treatments seem endless.

Before my diagnosis, I was a digital nomad and instructional consultant. I became a “citizen of the planet” traveling with my computer and passport. A morning in a Buddhist temple or in a dugout canoe in the upper Amazon became part of my online teaching, and serendipity took over. In my spare time I explored, hiked and ran mountain trails. For that reason, my diagnosis meant not just the loss of a life, but the loss of a carefully crafted way of living.

I read the books, I listened to the talks, but realized that this wasn’t suffering that could be healed solely through a mantra or a mindfulness workshop. This was suffering real and big and immediate. So even though I ached to just end things immediately, I changed my paradigm: I didn’t give up. I gave in. If I was going to die today or tomorrow or next month, I would do it my way, and until then try to live in grace, love, beauty and truth.

After two years of treatment and recovery, with my previous working life long gone, I am now channeling the transformative power of my ordeal. I am making memories of breathtaking mountain trails rather than soulless hospital beds. I retrained the new version of my body, and am again running across endangered landscapes, sharing what I've learned, and proving this one fact; We are not defined by a set of daunting circumstances.

My goal is to live the true and authentic story we patients needed to hear while confined for months in our hospital rooms, all the while emotionally tortured by the unknown. To make this happen, I am presenting my unique journey and motivation to anyone who is interested. I figured that if I somehow survived this nightmare that would be my new profession, to inspire lives of love.

Shaun