Fighting Multiple Myeloma With Feng Shui


A beautiful tapestry reminded me to stay positive, even during a challenging time with cancer.

Illustration of a man with short black hair and rectangular glasses.

As I navigated the daunting journey of fighting multiple myeloma, I found solace in my knowledge and study of feng shui. Drawing from ancient Chinese principles, I searched for ways to improve my chances of survival. From rearranging furniture for better energy flow to incorporating calming spiritual practices into my daily routine, this ancient art of placement played a crucial role in my healing from this cancerous blood disorder. It wasn't just about beliefs and traditions; it was finding practical tools and techniques to help me confront this assault on my bones.

Tears streamed down my face as I lay on large cushions in the living room of my tiny apartment. Two burly men maneuvered the hospital bed through the narrow doorway. As they set it up in the second bedroom, I couldn't help but feel defeated. This bed was a physical manifestation of how this blood cancer had taken over my life. For weeks, I slept on the couch, unable to bear the pain of moving due to five fractures in my lower spine and a wound on my back. Simple tasks like going to the bathroom were complex, requiring me to slowly climb onto the round ottoman and fixtures as I made my way there. Even though the bathroom was less than 15 feet from the sofa, reaching the toilet took me over an hour. Eventually, a commode with sturdy handles was situated next to my bed, highlighting just how much this disease had robbed me of my independence.

The hospital bed was delivered to our home without the usual weeks’ notice. We scrambled to clear out the second bedroom so that the bulky metal frame with its air mattress could fit inside. After hastily moving some belongings, the two workers finally installed the bed. Unfortunately, it is positioned directly across from the bathroom, which is a dreadful placement according to the principles of feng shui. It is believed that aligning your bed with the door is the worst possible location. Some refer to it as the “dead man's position” or the “coffin position,” as it mimics the way dead bodies are taken out of the room feet first. The idea of sleeping in such a position made me feel uneasy. But with no other option, we had to make do with this less-than-ideal arrangement. It was yet another reminder of the chaos and turmoil with which this crippling disease had disrupted our lives.

Filled with optimism and determination, a devoted friend carefully plastered a vibrant green bamboo mural on both my bathroom and bedroom doors. So, I was looking at something beautiful and uplifting instead of looking at the toilet. The intricate details of each leaf and stem breathed life onto the blank portals. It was as if a green forest suddenly cropped up in my home. The alteration and adjustment continued. A string of colorful Tibetan prayer flags floated above the doorway's frame like a smile, sending prayers and positive energy into every area of the room. Instantly, I felt a sense of peace wash over me.

Image of a tapestry of 99 faces.

The tapestry of art called "Faces" by Alberta Hutchinson.

Photo credit: Ronald Chin

I wanted to hang this 5-foot x 9-foot hand-painted tapestry titled "Faces" on the third floor, which was intended to be my new office and teaching space. It was a transcendental cure meant to transform and outshine the effects of ordinary results. The artwork, created by artist Alberta Hutchinson, is composed of a hand-painted quilt of 99 faces of all the teachers, family and mentors who had helped her through her cancer journey. Coincidentally, I received this gift the same day I came home from the hospital.

Despite being in excruciating pain and constantly undergoing treatments, I was exasperated to get the tapestry hung in our space. My wife and I now laugh about this memory. While she was scrambling to coordinate my appointments, medications, paperwork and our long to-do lists, I was annoyed that this lovely quilt was not yet installed. The tapestry served as a visual reminder for me to focus on positive results during my struggle with cancer. It gave me confidence that I would be able to use my office once again.

The notion of hanging decorations with hope had become a powerful symbol for me. It reminded me that there is always beauty and magic to be found, even in the darkest of times. Looking at the quilt with radiating faces, tall green bamboo guarding my door and colorful prayer flags, I knew I would continue to live and enjoy life with purpose and gratitude.

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