Former Grand Lake Lodge owner to speak at cancer conference
A cancer diagnosis can be earth shattering. Kerri Geary knows that, having been diagnosed with cancer on four separate occasions over the last 20 years.
But that doesn’t mean a person can’t survive and even thrive through one of the most difficult struggles a human being can endure.
“So often people think of us as victims,” said Kerri. “Well I’m not a victim.”
Simple but powerful words tinged with the understanding that attitude and outlook can be as important as treatment in a fight against cancer.
Kerri will speak Saturday, Sept. 12, at the “Cancer as a Turning Point: From Surviving to Thriving” Conference, put on by “Healing Journeys” a nonprofit organization focused on cancer related issues.
The Cancer as a Turning Point Conference will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Althea Center in Denver. Kerri’s talk at the conference, titled “Allowing Life to Happen” will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The Conference is free and open to the public. Walk-ins are welcomed but pre-registration is preferred. You can register by going to http://www.healingjourneys.org.
Originally from Denver, Kerri grew up spending summers in Grand Lake. Her grandfather bought the Grand Lake Lodge in the early 1950s. The lodge was eventually passed down to Kerri’s father. Her family owned and operated the Grand Lake Lodge until they sold the property in 2010. Along with working occasionally at the Grand Lake Lodge Kerri’s career was teaching. She taught in both Granby and Fraser.
Kerri’s personal experiences with cancer began in 1976 when her father was diagnosed. Kerri described the lengthy treatment process her father underwent as arduous. According to Kerri he passed away in 1994 from complications related to the cancer treatments he was receiving. Kerri said she and her siblings first became more involved in the day-to-day operation of the Grand Lake Lodge after their father went blind in 1981.
Kerri was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996.
“Being raised by a father who had cancer, it was not something I even wanted to deal with so I just treated it like a really bad cold,” she said. “That is not a good way to deal with cancer, but I think that is not uncommon.”
Over the next decade Kerri underwent a mastectomy, was declared “cured”, gave birth to a son and was diagnosed with cancer in her other breast. After her second diagnosis Kerri underwent two additional surgeries and chemotherapy, while raising her toddler son.
“I quit teaching and started looking into all kinds of healing methods,” she said. In her search for treatment options Kerri came across a set of cassettes from the Cancer as a Turning Point Conference.
“That started me on a path to look at different ways of healing.”
The tapes and her own experiences with cancer motivated Kerri to open her own practice as a cancer coach, providing support and information for people fighting the affliction.
In 2010 Kerri was again diagnosed with cancer, in one of her lymph nodes, at the same time her family sold the Grand Lake Lodge. The decision to sell the property had been spurred on just a few years before with a cancer diagnosis for Kerri’s mother Sue James, who operated the gift shop at the Lodge and performed other duties.
“After that it became too hard,” Kerri said.
A few years after selling the Grand Lake Lodge Kerri was diagnosed with cancer for a fourth time, in 2013, in her other lymph node. The new diagnosis prompted Kerri to quit her practice as a cancer coach and join Rocky Mountain Health Plans as a Care Coordinator for the insurance benefits provided by the company.
“I still work in a helping profession,” Kerri said. “I still work with people that have cancer.” Those two aspects of her professional career are important to Kerri as she fights her own battles against malignancy.
Kerri says she is doing very well at the moment. She has regular six-month follow-ups, “but basically I am just using nutrition, supplements and herbal medicine,” she said. “No one solution works for anyone. No cancer is the same. No breast cancer is even the same. Doctors are starting to figure out individualized treatment.”
Kerri urges anyone in Grand County who has experienced cancer or those who work closely with cancer patients to attend the conference this weekend.
“I would really encourage people to go. This is really powerful stuff and they will feel a lot more positive and feel like they have more tools to deal with what they are facing.”
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