Petrea King, Founding Director and CEO of the Quest for Life Foundation at Bundanoon on the south coast of New South Wales, was an inspiring speaker at our conference this year. Petrea is a qualified naturopath, herbalist, homoeopath, yoga and meditation teacher and counsellor. In 1983, at the age of 32, she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia and came to accept the prospect of death. Unexpectedly, however, she survived, and in 1990, she established the Quest for Life Foundation, and since then has dedicated herself to encouraging, empowering and educating people living with cancer, neurological and other serious and chronic illnesses, or who are suffering grief, stress or trauma – and for their carers. She has received numerous awards for her work, has written eight books, including three children’s books, and has recorded a dozen meditation CDs. She is a regular guest on ABC national and local radio and has been featured in many television programs.
In her calm, honest and compassionate manner, Petrea told us about the many traumas she has experienced in her life, and how her search for inner peace, as she faced death, taught her the fundamentals of how to live. She led us through some practical strategies for living well in difficult circumstances and for building emotional resilience and a sense of wellbeing.
In particular, she outlined the four qualities which provide a framework to understand peace of mind and how it can be a living presence in our lives. Petrea emphasised that the presence of these four qualities is always found in people who have spontaneous remissions or who far outlive their doctor’s predictions. These qualities are not just a state of mind but a state of physiology – one that is positively conducive to physical healing and creating wellness. Each quality begins with the letter ‘c’, and they are known collectively as the Four Cs:
- The first necessary quality is that we have a sense of control over our responses to life.
- The second quality is to feel committed to living – to be willing to get emotionally up-to-date with our life and take responsibility for our perceptions – stop blaming or resisting what is.
- The third quality is that we feel challenged and excited by life. Can we find meaning in our suffering? If we are willing, we have the opportunity to listen to the voice of our spirit and respect its wisdom.
- The final quality is a sense of connectedness – feeling that we are loved and supported by those with whom we share our life, and having a sense of belonging or place.
There is so much more to be shared from our meeting with Petrea, but I hope that this is an introduction to another way of viewing our situation. Her knowledge regarding the neuroscience of emotion and physiology is highly relevant to our experiences of symptoms of Mastocytosis, and also provided us with strategies to minimise the harmful effects of some of our symptoms through mindful meditation. Meditation and mindfulness are important factors in allowing us to live more in the present moment.
Feedback was very positive from those who attended the session, and there were many questions afterwards. It would be wonderful to have Petrea’s presence at a future conference, as it provides a balance to medical input and offers ways to nurture our mind, body and spirit in the midst of significant ill health and uncertainty.
Get more information regarding Petrea’s work at the Quest for Life Foundation, and to access books and CDs.
Sue Dickinson – TAMS Support Group Chair