Maria Can’t Imagine Life Without Wellspring

When Maria Whipps visited Wellspring Chinguacousy for the first time, her connection was immediate.  “To my surprise I was in a beautiful home where I found the atmosphere so inviting”.  

Diagnosed three and a half years ago with Multiple Myeloma, a blood cancer where the white cells attack the bone tissue, she attributes Revlimid, administered with steroids as being responsible for giving her energy and removing pain.  Maria has faced the fact that her cancer is treatable but not curable. She’s on palliative care to maintain her quality of life.   One might say that her motto is, “Accept the cancer and then you can go on.”  Instead of being angry with her diagnosis, this feisty yet delicate woman believes that “Cancer was an enormous lesson for me. We complain about the past and worry about the future when what we should be doing is focusing on the present moment.  Cancer changes you, hopefully for the better.”

While she has attended many programs at Wellspring Chinguacousy it’s the human contact and the positive energy she feels there that has helped her the most.   “Wellspring gives you the tools to let go of stress and resentment in order to cope with day-to-day living.  But, it’s the positive energy and the common element of cancer that have helped me the most.   There’s energy in there that makes me feel very relaxed and welcome.”  Maria also takes advantage of Wellspring’s free transportation services to attend programs.

“Relaxation and Visualization is one of my favorite programs because there’s a lot of dialogue and a lively exchange and sharing.  We do a meditation and then the leader invites members to share with the group. There’s always a core group, and a few new members each week, so it varies a little bit.”

Maria also enjoys the Knitting Program, held every Friday.  “Knitting has a certain rhythm that is very relaxing.  It’s an open forum so we can talk about the silliest things.   If you don’t want to talk, you don’t have to.” Before the group begins or at breaks, many participants sit around the kitchen table enjoying coffee and tea together. Some bring their lunch, while others bring cookies or Indian food to share.

Maria is also a regular monthly donor. “We are given so much at Wellspring that we should give a little bit back.” After a bit of thought, she adds, “I wish I could give more.   If you spend say ten hours at a place week after week after week, like I do, you should give something”.    However, Maria’s main reason for being a donor is that “Wellspring is in my heart, it’s really part of me.  I couldn’t imagine life without Wellspring”.

Meet Reception Desk Volunteer, Linda Hall

On alternate Thursday mornings, visitors and members, who walk through the front door at 5 Inspiration Way, are cheerfully greeted by Linda Hall. To look at her, nobody would guess that she’d been treated for cancer. She knows the nervousness and courage it can take to walk through the entranceway for the first time like she did in May, 2008.

Linda’s mother passed away after her battle with breast cancer, which had metastasized. From all she’d heard and read, she knew that she was at risk for getting breast cancer. Therefore, Linda went for regular breast screening. Then in 2007, a technician discovered pre-cancer and sent the reading and X-ray to Linda’s doctor to discuss with her.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Linda says, “because of my mother’s situation.” She was simply grateful that her cancer was discovered at such infancy. “People complain that it hurts” to have a mammogram, “but it’s worth it.”

Her surgeon performed a biopsy, which tissue was found to be pre-cancerous. Through a lumpectomy, one-third of her breast was removed. Linda underwent twenty-one radiation treatments. Following her “annual call back” in November, 2009, Linda was able to celebrate two years of being cancer-free.

Returning to work was more stressful than Linda had anticipated.  She elected to “retire.” Having “nothing to do and no schedule” was a difficult change for her. A girl friend read about Wellspring Chinguacousy and told her about it. With “time on my hands,” she decided to visit and learn what it was all about.

She was surprised to discover the variety of free programs that are available to members and has enjoyed participating in Meditation, Qi Gong and Gentle Yoga classes. “Meditation is relaxing, both emotionally and physically. Facilitator, Tony Murdock, is very inspirational.” By attending the classes, she discovered that “I am able to meditate at home when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’m so much calmer.”

Before long, Linda decided to be a volunteer at the reception desk, a role she’s filled for over a year and a half. Visitors are warmed by her gentle greeting and put quickly at ease as she offers them a cup of coffee or tea, and takes them on a tour of the house or connects them with a peer support volunteer.

In addition to her hours at Wellspring Chinguacousy, Linda feeds wild, stray cats that reside along GO train tracks. “Cats are spunky. I love their attitude.” She also delivers food to shut-ins for Meals on Wheels and enjoys entering contests on the internet.  Believe it or not, Linda has won over $33,000 in goods and services over the past year!

Linda, we are grateful for your generosity of time and friendship.