Dr. Valeria Arango, medical doctor and creator of Healing Presents, shares her journey and inspiration to develop this beautiful project:
“My story is your story. At the age of 15, a time for sleepovers and parties, a time for school and joy, I was diagnosed with lymphatic system cancer, a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I am, just like you, a believer of life. This app is a huge part of my life’s mission: the way I see it, cancer was one of the greatest gifts I have ever received because it helped me find my own purpose. I survived to help others.
Being so young and receiving that news was so difficult. Throughout my process I had a lot of pain, fear and uncertainty. However, I was blessed to grow up in a very spiritual family and through this experience, our faith was strengthened. God, with his divine energy, was present in every step of my journey. And no matter what you believe in, there is always a divine energy in the universe and within yourself that you can feel and embrace if you want to.
At 15, I had so many dreams… before my diagnosis happened, I was always thinking of the future: what I would become, what my life would look like. And after it happened, I was always looking back: longing my childhood, when this dark time wasn’t even a possibility. Cancer taught me the value of my present and this can be a great lesson of your process as well. I did some homework when I felt strong. I prayed every day. I tried to enjoy food. Every day, I aimed for an intention. And having a small purpose every day, made me want to live. One day, when my process was very complex and I was feeling low on strength and encouragement, I received a beautiful gift, a little Baobab! I had only known about this tree in the book “The Little Prince”, however, when I began to identify its value I realized that it was a symbolic tree of life and resilience. And so, this gift brings a very deep and beautiful message “may your strength always be as great as a baobab”. Since that day I am a Baobab lover! These sciences and many others, allowed me to have a little purpose each day, they made me want to live. This is how I discovered that I could be a huge part of my own healing process.
I decided to focus not on the pain, but on the sparks of joy that I felt through simple things. When I was too anxious to sleep,I began to listened to relax music, breath, and practice spiritual meditation to calm down…When I wasn’t strong enough, my mom would stay by my side and I felt her love and compassion. I learned to calm myself through breathing. Becoming conscious of my own breath allowed me to defeat the nauseas caused by my fear and stress. Today, I invite you to take a deep breath and, without any rush, leaving aside your fears, ask yourself: what are the healing presents that you receive every day? A bird singing in the morning, a message from a loved one, being able to wake up yet another morning? Today, I invite you to embrace the obstacles you’re facing, the medical treatments you are receiving and your own strength.
During my studies, I learned that there is scientific evidence of the benefits of meditation and mind-body therapies, helping diminish some of the adverse effects from oncological treatments, as stress and anxiety, insomnia, among others. And if they worked for me, I wanted them to work for others. I decided to become a doctor because I also wanted to give my patients Healing Presents, the way I had received so many from my family, from my doctors and nurses, from my friends, from God…
This is what I have done in the past 15 years, but I dreamed of expanding those presents around the world and remind beautiful souls than they are more than their illness. I decided to create this app to share the Healing Presents I had collected through the years with a larger community that you now belong to. By the time I was diagnosed, social media did not exist and where I lived, I could not find a community. But today, we have the gift of technology to connect with people who are going through a similar process all around the world.
This app is meant to serve, help, accompany and enlighten amidst difficulties. To remind you that faith is greater than fear and that a simple breath can transform your day. Healing Presents is filled with Mind-Body therapies that will help you overcome this strange gift that was given to you in an easier way. A tool against fear and anxiety, and in favor of inner peace, better quality of life and greater wellbeing. It´s an app that you can use at every moment of this process, to help you optimize every day with your own needs. A tool to validate emotions, to recognize them and to modify them with gratitude towards more serene, strengthened and compassionate sciences. Every detail of Healing Presents has a great symbolism and meaning, and that is why its logo reflects the existence of a Baobab, so that by using it constantly you remember that your strength and resilience can be as great as a Baobab.
You’re not alone. Today I opened my heart to share it with you, because I know that it can inspire you to live this process with faith and strength. This is my story; we are here to walk with you through every step of the way. Although every journey is different, I have walked a similar path and I know from a fact that this works if you are willing to come inside. Our door is open for you to join a community of believers of life.
Dr. Valeria Arango holds a B.A. in Medicine from CES University in Colombia; is a fellow in Integrative Medicine from Arizona University in the US, and finished studies in acupuncture at Harvard University, at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Healing Presents was presented at the Society for Integrative Oncology’s 16th International Conference Advancing the Science & Art of Integrative Oncology, which was led by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York city. Medically, it was very well received, since approximately 55% of cancer patients have depressive symptoms and about 65% suffer from anxiety, an aspect that is often forgotten or not addressed by the medical field. Today our community has expanded to more than 8 countries, so that together we can accompany each other in each phase of this cancer process. From the Integrative Oncology, this app will provide an accompaniment to the patients during each phase of the disease with techniques of meditation, breathing, guided visualization, among others, strengthening through gratitude, compassion and full awareness the states of calm and tranquility.