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A common thread Drolma finds in her work is the power of being heard. “One of my teachers in New York, Trudy Hirsh Abrahamson, says you cannot not tell your story—meaning that everything a person says is part of their story,” Drolma says, adding that some people seem to accept what’s happening to them, “not in a defeated way, but a feeling of it being another part of the story of their lives, while others seem really taken down by it. How people deal with illnesses in a good way seems very related to the people around them.” By listening nonjudgmentally to a patient’s fears and concerns, and whatever they wish to say in the moment, she hopes to bring some comfort. Although she humbly questions whether she is any help, Drolma also has seen that “the healing that takes place is palpable.”
Dealing with a life-threatening illness is never easy, but continuing to find ways of having fun, being creative, enlisting the help of friends, connecting with nature, getting exercise, and sharing one’s story are some of the ways to keep illness a facet, not a focus, of life.