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home : features : people of faith

9/13/2012 8:46:00 AM
Older adults and healthy living

"The workshop helped to put me back in charge of my life and I feel great. I only wish I had done this sooner!"

This comment and many others like it came from an older adult who participated in one of the Chronic Disease Self-Management (Living Healthy) workshops I lead.

As the health and wellness program coordinator for the Center for Excellence in Aging and Community Wellness (CEACW) at The University at Albany, I have the privilege of journeying with people on the path to wholeness of body, mind and spirit. Participants in my workshops share concerns and problem-solve on how to better manage their health issues. Whether the struggle is with chronic pain, diabetes, arthritis or a concern about falls, our center provides programs led by trained volunteers, many of whom share the same health concerns.

My own journey to this place has been less straightforward. My background in legal services and most recent position as a pastoral associate for parish life at St. Luke's Church in Schenectady prepared me, in some ways, for my current work.

Many times, participants in a workshop will thank the leader for helping them when, in fact, the leader gets so much more out of the experience than he or she can express!

Journeying with those on a physically challenging path, whether as a patient or caregiver, is at the heart of what I believe God's calling for me is. Having been diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer in 2000 and dealt with surgery, chemo and fatigue, I can absolutely relate to someone who is experiencing chronic pain or difficult emotions.

The recurrence of cancer in 2006 brought me to a place spiritually that taught me that God had a definite purpose in mind when I was created. God wasn't done with me yet!

That wasn't an easy conclusion to come to as I went through recovery from chemo and radiation, the effects of which made it impossible to continue working. I was forced to "be still," something that hadn't always come easy to me.

That stillness, however, helped me to discern what the next step might be. A chance meeting with a friend from a former parish led to the work I do now.

All things in life come full circle, as evidenced by my opportunities to work with DePaul Housing Management, offering programs in several of the Albany Diocese's senior housing sites. Working with Seton Health and other faith-based organizations has also brought me "home," where I can speak the language of the Spirit and feel the connection that faith can bring to healing.

My hope is that, as older adults, we are all able to experience that healing in some way: through prayer, meditation, being physically and socially active, participating in a wellness program or whatever brings healing and joy to one's soul.

My favorite Bible verse has become my mantra on this wonderful, unpredictable, joyful journey: "I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).

(Contact Ms. Borowsky at 442-5529 or healthychoices@albany.edu.)

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