How the ancient art of qijong helped a woman with breast cancer
By Therese Wood, Montana Health Journal
When Judith Thurman was diagnosed with breast cancer, her world was turned upside down.
She was recommended to go through a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and a mountain of medications. She sought truth by going inward, and there she found the answer that sent her on a journey to find what would eventually be her saving grace. She knew she had to find the root of the problem. Thurman elected to have the cancerous tumor removed and limited radiation treatments.
She then began studying one alternative health therapy after another through the Internet, wellness practitioners, wellness coaches and books. As her mission to find the truth about what was happening in her body unfolded, she came to understand that well-being is based on balance in the body, the mind, and our natural world. Thurman discovered where she was out of balance, and found a practice that addressed that issue perfectly for her. The practice of qigong, a series of flowing body movements that balances the body’s energy, struck a deep chord with Thurman. She knew that learning and practicing qigong would send her on a path to healing.
Qigong master Debra Lin Allen, from The School of Qigong Studies in Denver, became Thurman’s teacher. As she diligently practiced qigong, Thurman was having such positive results with the remission of her cancer that she became completely focused on learning all she could about this 5,000-year-old Chinese practice. In the end, Thurman would not only become cancer free during her years practicing and studying qigong, but would go on to become a full five year student and achieve a high certification in the practice.
Thurman explains that through the study of humans and our deep connection with nature, Chinese scholars and scientists realized we may be able to refine our “Qi” (pronounced Chee), which is our vital life force energy, and possibly prevent or correct the imbalances that trigger illness. Qigong, which is derived from the flowing energies of the natural world, focuses on balancing the emotions that are directly related to each of the organs, so that participants can live in a state of more balanced energy, Thurman said. Qigong, she says, is also about helping people find that state of flow to fulfill their purpose and evolve into the person they were meant to become. “A Qigong approach has helped me to balance and reconnect with higher forms of healing energies,” she said. “This connection enables me to feel the peace, harmony and joy that are available to all of us.”
She believes that continued Qigong practice, along with practices related to the life energy in foods and how they digest, and her awareness of emotions while eating, are preventing the cancer from returning. “My belief is that we all have a beautiful purpose,” Thurman says, “No one can do that work for us. Qigong is about empowering each individual to fulfill their purpose and evolve into the person they were meant to become.”
Thurman moved from Great Falls to Bigfork in 2013. At the time she was not teaching Qigong, but using the practice herself. She started going to Sliters Park in Bigfork, and doing the practice near the river’s edge. Not long after she started this routine, individuals began coming up to her and asking what she was doing. When she explained, they asked if they could join her, and soon a regular group started meeting her at the park to practice. As time went on, individuals began asking Judith if she would come to their homes for private lessons, and this eventually developed into classes at the Summit Health Club.
The positive results that her students were getting eventually led to Thurman opening a practice in Bigfork. After years of teaching in private homes, classes in Kalispell and at her practice in Bigfork, her husband’s work called them to Colorado in the summer of 2015. To close her time in Montana ceremoniously, Thurman decided to have three final group Qigong sessions in June 2015, at Sliters Park.
As she flowed through the series of Qigong movements, with a soft breeze, the rushing of spring water in the river, and a golden sun shining down through the trees, Thurman smiled a peaceful joy from completing a fulfilling and beautiful cycle with her time in Montana. •