Our dojo "family" has been shaken by an unexpected challenge.
Few students are as dedicated to their dojo and master instructor as is Suzette Hodnett. During the last 16 years her unwavering assistance as my sotodeshi at Aikido Ai has been invaluable to me, the instructors and the many students who have relied on her. Suzette's expertise as an artist, writer, and therapist has given her tai chi classes a distinctive personality that is popular with her many students. Behind the scenes, from maintenance to administration, there is nothing in the dojo that has not been given her careful consideration.
Attendees at the Mt. Baldy Retreat through the years will remember Suzette's work there as ready assistant to me and the other instructors and as my assistant in all the tai chi classes. The participants at her popular seminar series, "Finding Calm Within the Chaos," will remember Suzette's multi-talented approach to health and healing. Presbyterian Hospital's Complementary Cancer Care Program sought her out to teach an informational and support group, "Finding Calm Within the Cancer." Her fellow artists, patrons and fans know of her unwavering exploration and sharing of her life through art.
But an emergency has occurred and now Suzette needs our help in return.
Two months ago Suzette was diagnosed with an advanced and aggressive stage-four squamous cell carcinoma. It has metastasized into her lymph nodes in three places -- the front of her ear and into the canal, along her neck, and internally at the base of her skull. Top-notch surgeons and specialists at the City of Hope have teamed up and cleared their schedules for an all-day surgical operation next Wednesday, May 7th. Looking past the surgery, Suzette will have radiation, rehabilitation and medical care, and the challenges of putting her life back together.
Self-employed and supported by her multifaceted teaching, counseling, and professional art careers, Suzette is now facing a financial challenge which her medical insurance will only partially cover. Now and for a month or possibly more she will be unable to work and her income has ceased. Rent and other bills are relentless. Friends are rallying to help with home care, errands, and other assistance.
Aikido Ai has started a fundraising drive at the dojo, as well as her family and friends outside Aikido Ai and extended family.
If you have been to the dojo or attended any of our seminars or retreats, you have met or benefited from Suzette's tireless work as sotodeshi. Her satellite classes in several cities have shared Aikido Ai's treasures and values with the greater community. Her students in writing courses, children's workshops and classes, her women's meditative classes, and her art courses have enriched the lives of many of us.
I ask for your help in giving back to one who so generously gives 110% of her energy and life.
Suzette's family has set up a convenient web page with information on Suzette's diagnosis, surgery and recovery updates, a place for you to leave her comments, and a link to another website for those who have expressed interest in donating money to Suzette. The website is called "Team Suzette." Click on the link below to check it out.
Folks can also send donations directly to me or to Suzette:
Sensei Frank McGouirk, Aikido Ai, Help Suzette Fund, 6725 Comstock Ave., Whittier, CA 90601
Suzette Hodnett, 7736 Friends Ave., #B, Whittier, CA 90602.
When Suzette shared her news with the dojo students, she simply asked for everyone's positive energy, healing chi, and warm support. She is visualizing a successful surgery, a month or two of recuperation, and a grateful return to teaching and living.
Your generous donation will help Suzette to return to her home, her teaching, and our dojo. Thank you for caring and sharing.
Frank McGouirk Sensei Dojo Cho Aikido Ai
P.S.: When we learn more about how to help Suzette in this challenging adventure, we will share that news with you. Thank you for your continuing friendship.
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