A Magazine Capturing the Story of Health- For People, Environment, Economy & Habitat

Diagnosis: Brain Tumor – Daily Treatment: A Village of Connection

How Harmony Village formed a Common of Healing for a Neighbor.

by Dave Wann


Golden, Co

Social connections heal and restore us. That scientific fact was crystal clear when a health emergency hit my next-door neighbors a few years back. I was up at 5:30 a.m. one morning this past summer when my neighbor Phil Lohre raced across the front lawn and directed an ambulance to the front of his house.

I didn’t want to be a nosy neighbor but I did want to be available if my friends needed help, so I stood on my front porch as the crew rolled Phil’s wife, Julie, out on a gurney. I found out later that day that she’d had a seizure and had a tumor in the front of her brain.

The first thing that occurred to her is that she had to write her three children a letter with her best life lessons, love, and wisdom – just in case. The kids — who I’ve watched grow from beans to beanstalks — were at summer camp a thousand miles away, but Julie and Phil decided to fly them home the next afternoon.

“We realized that we aren’t separate from them,” she says. “They were important to our decision-making process.”  As the Lohres began their intensive research on the science of Julie’s condition, Phil was her first strong pillar of support. Julie is a nurse practitioner and is very well versed in health science, but the details of the various treatment options were extremely complex.

Phil’s note-taking and sharp intellect helped the pair equip themselves with the right information. For example, they opted not to have a separate biopsy done since the tumor would have to come out in any case, whether it was benign or malignant.  They flew to New York for a second opinion, and kept their wits about them as they gathered information. “Without Phil’s support, I would have felt overwhelmed,” says Julie

Neighbors began cooking meals for the Lohres; old friends brought perennials to plant in Julie’s garden; and Julie began to shift into a different mindset. “I started to look at life’s priorities in a totally different way,” she says.  “While I waited for a few weeks to have the surgery, I wanted laughter and music in my life, and I wanted to avoid labeling. Yes, I had a brain tumor, but that shouldn’t prevent me from still feeling good…”

She began to slow down and reassess where her time and efforts were going.  Her son, Will, asked if she’d play pool with him. “Normally that would be something that would go on my To Do list – ‘spend quality time with Will’ – but that afternoon, I STOPPED and played pool with him. We had a great time!

I found out how good he was; who had taught him to play; and how they sometimes cheated, just a little. When we slow down and look at things differently, we see there’s an underlying rhythm and vividness to everything.” She gets out a card that her daughter Lisi had made for her: “Wherever you are and whatever you do, we will be there with you.”

As a precaution, after the tumor was removed, Julie was scheduled for 31 low-dose radiation treatments over a six-week period – a huge effort, especially since she couldn’t drive. Twenty different people offered to drive her to the hospital and wait for her – at least a two-hour commitment. “The support I got from people was awesome!” she says. “I felt like I was being carried by the positive energy people gave me.”

She made each trip to the hospital into a productive healing session. For example, when I took her, our discussion was about visualization.

She wanted to clearly and decisively instruct her immune system what to do with all uninvited cells in her body, and we talked about sending them to a virtual compost pile. Julie’s prognosis continues to be excellent, and no doubt all the intentional thoughts and support have played a key role.

Excerpt from Simple Prosperity


Publisher’s note: Spring 2007 – I lived as a temporary resident of Harmony Village and the Loehr’s and Dave Wann were my neighbors. I was healing from an environmental accident and toxic exposure that forced me to leave my home.  It was on this village common at Harmony Village I watch a community of people create life out of social connection and a commitment to every neighbor to have the ability to work well to live wisely.

Julie Loehr and i share a background in a health care system that is very broken. Our shared value is to love the people we care about and support them through the transitions that life brings to everyone any age. Julie’s children that year learned about how precious life was at a very young age for lots of reasons.

The family stayed strong, was able to sustain financially and give each person the space they needed to heal from the physical and emotional stress surrounded by friends and family in a way that is not something common to most neighborhoods in America today.

Over the next six months, I traveled and met many people in many co-housing communities. It is hard to explain, but Harmony Village which is of modest size and supported by its garden and neighbors is unique to any co-housing community I visited that year.  Every person no matter diversity, health status or personality simply matters.


Authors bio:

David Wann is an author, filmmaker and speaker on the topic of sustainable design and lifestyles. He is the author of The New Normal: An Agenda for Responsible Living (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2011) and contributing editor to


1 Comment»

  thestoryofmeaningfuluse wrote @

this article from validates Dave’s framework and story,

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