Finding inspiration in every situation is something I have been striving to do in my life lately. I just spent a wonderful week in Doe Bay at the Music Arts and Ideas festival while on tour with the Viscosity Cabaret led by the amazing Rebecca Schaffer. Doe Bay is a magically beautiful place with many amazing people who gather for this and other festivals. I was expecting it to be a typical music festival with a few presentations of other varieties and I couldn’t have been happier to be wrong about what I found.
I attended workshops in intentional partner dancing, dancing as medicine, nature skills as well as performed in a theatre group and listened to some amazing music but probably the most impactful thing I attended was a presentation giving my Jim Olsen MD, PhD called Deadly Cures.
Dr. Olsen spoke about how he and his research team at Fred Hutch in Seattle are using nature to teach them about how to heal the body and are focusing on the rarest forms of cancer we know about today. Types of cancer that is so rare there can be no surgery done and drug companies cannot typically afford to develop cures for such a small amount of people. One of his major breakthroughs was discovering a tumor paint that is made from scorpion venom that lights up cancer cells so that when the surge goes into remove the cancer he/she can clearly tell the difference between cancer cells and healthy tissue and can detect minute occurrences that would cause the cancer to come back again and again.
Tumor paint is just one of the tools they are developing in their lab as well as studying potatoes to see what protects them from getting eaten by insects and using those substances to keep starches intact while administering needed medicine into patients. The most profound thing that hit me was when he spoke of one of his patients named Violet.
Violet was an amazing little girl with one of the rarest forms of cancer located deep in her brain stem so there was no possibility for surgery to help her and no research had been done on this time because researchers have been unable to obtain tissue to study and make cures available. Violet was a very special little girl and loved to be outside and loved to make everyone laugh in order to lighten the mood of any heavy situation and as you can imagine she had some very very heavy emotional situations due to her condition. She agreed after learning why the cancer was untreatable to donate her brain stem to Dr Olsen’s team in order for them to study it and make sure that kids like her have a chance in the future. This made me tear up like I had not in a very long time and every time I tell the story of Violet to people after the fact it hasn’t lessened the effect, in fact the tears come sooner now even before the story is over. The name of the research project surrounding this rare form of cancer is called project Violet and they have raised a lot of money in her name for the research. They do however need more and what better place to donate money than to someone who is following his Dharma using nature to learn how to cure human diseases and connect researchers with jobs in order to make this all happen.