As a co-founder, Jan Lively’s commitment to and passion for qigong and complementary methods of healing were instrumental in growing The Noble Circle Project to what it is today. Jan finally surrendered to her illness on August 27, 2010. Her story and amazing work continues to inspire new members and the Sisterhood. Here are her words as written in 2003.
I am a metastatic breast cancer survivor. In 1998, my life was turned upside down (and perhaps right side up) when I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. The next six months I endured chemotherapy with complete loss of hair, surgery (lumpectomy) and radiation. I was estrogen receptor positive, so began taking tamoxifen. There was no sign of cancer in the lymph nodes and, with all indicators, my doctor predicted an 80-90 percent chance there would be no further recurrence.
Getting cancer the first time was a wakeup call. I made a few concessions to improving my diet, sought to reduce stress by changing jobs, and began to seek a meaningful relationship in my life. I have always been fairly health-conscious, and I thought I ate a reasonably healthy diet. But the changes were mainly superficial. Deep down, I resented cancer, feeling greatly humiliated by the effects of the treatments and powerless to do much about it. I was angry with my doctors, the nurses who administered chemotherapy and just about everyone else who "couldn't possibly understand" what I was going through.
During the treatments, a friend of mine - an angel - gave me Luke Chan's book, 101 Miracles of Healing, and said, "Jan, I think this could help you." I skimmed through the book and read a number of the testimonies of miraculous healings from cancer and other serious diseases through the daily practice of qigong, but I returned the book to her with a "thanks, but no thanks" response. My rational, skeptical mind could not accept the possibility that such miracles could truly exist.
So getting cancer the second time was like getting knocked over the head with a sledgehammer. In January of 2001, it came back in my liver - multiple metastases throughout, the largest mass the size of a baking potato. My tumor marker count was 4500 and I was very sick with a stressed-out and enlarged liver. A jogger most of my life, I could now barely walk around the block. My doctor put me on chemotherapy saying it had a 50 percent chance of reducing the tumors. Forget about a full recovery, he said. Almost no one survives metastatic breast cancer. And the liver is the worse place for it to be. The best I could hope for, according to the oncologist, was extended life through chemo. Given the severity of my condition, I could see that if the chemo didn't work, I wouldn't be around much longer. It felt like a death sentence.
This time, instead of anger and arrogance, I felt a complete humility and surrendering. My friend, the angel, came back to me and said, "Jan, open your heart," and I did. And once again, she gave me Luke Chan's book and said, "Jan, I think this could help you." This time, I agreed to give it a try. What could I lose? And she offered to show me how to do the Lift Chi Up, Pour Chi Down form and practiced it with me nearly every day for the first few weeks.
I didn't actually begin to practice qigong until after the first few weeks of chemo. Before I began the practice, my condition did not improve and the tumor marker remained at 4500. Six weeks after I began practicing qigong just 20 minutes a day, my tumor marker count dropped to 2500! The potato-sized tumor shrank to the size of a ping pong ball! And I began to feel much better. My energy improved and I felt fewer side effects from the chemo. After three months of practicing, I was back to jogging again (while on chemo!). People would comment on how good I looked and how much energy I seemed to have.
As I began to get results, I increased my practice to about an hour a day. Amazing things began to happen in my life. I had powerful visions, which I had never before experienced. I began to develop a sense of "knowing" what I needed to do, what path I needed to follow. I found a qigong teacher in Dayton who had studied at the Healing Center in China! Although the Center is now closed, we dreamed of going to China to study with qigong masters who could help advance my healing.
All the while, I continued to improve and feel better. During the summer months, I realized that the next step was to attend a Chi Lel Qigong retreat. So I went to the Mt. Shasta retreat in California , accompanied by my loving sisters who came along to support me, and Master Frank Chan taught me how to REALLY do the forms. At the retreat I met Annie Burns, and we began to share our vision of bringing the healing art of qigong to others experiencing breast cancer.
From that point on, I knew my life, however long I am given, has a purpose. Eventually, when I reached a stumbling block in my recovery, I realized that I had to give up my energy-draining job and give 100 percent attention and resources to healing myself. I began to see a practitioner of Tibetan medicine who prescribed a special diet and medicinal herbs.
In February and March of 2002, I traveled to Hawaii for the unusual opportunity to study intensively with Master Luke Chan and became a certified Chi Lel instructor. In Hawaii, much emotional healing occurred, which I believe was necessary before further physical healing could occur.
And then in the following summer, my dream of traveling to China to study qigong at the source came true! I was introduced to Master Mingtong Gu who was planning to take a group of qigong practitioners to China for a month-long retreat and sightseeing trip. While in China , I had the opportunity to work with several Chinese qigong teachers/healers, some of whom had taught at the Healing Center in China. When I returned from China, my tumor marker count was the lowest it has ever been. Although I am still not completely free of cancer, I feel healthier than I have ever felt in my life.
As a result of these experiences, my practice has reached depths I could never have anticipated. Qigong has changed my life, given me new life, and most importantly, a deep inner peace. Whereas I used to feel unhappy and unsatisfied most of the time, I am now a happy person. Breast cancer no longer scares me. While I hope for a full recovery, I know that deep down, I am okay. Everything is fine. All is unfolding as it meant to.
Jan went on to teach qigong classes in Dayton. She was especially interested in bringing qigong to those living with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Her goal in life became to help others change and enrich their lives. And, of course, for all of us, for the complete healing of mind, body, and spirit.