Candles, statuettes, incense and nostalgic personal tokens adorn
Carie Ford-Broecker's living room altar and a sweeping window view
of the deep blue Monterey Bay frames this corner of her cozy home
where she comes to meditate and visualize. "It's a Wonderful Life!"
is the mantra headlining her 15-point plan for physical and
spiritual transformation which is posted above it all. But
standard-issue peace and serenity have not been the goals of
Ford-Broecker's meditation: She visualizes the complete elimination
of HIV from her body.
Ford-Broecker deeply believes that, as a result of her mental and
spiritual labors, she is now HIV negative. "I don't even consider
myself positive anymore," she says. She first tested HIV positive in
1989, although she thinks she was infected a couple of years before
that. She takes no antivirals and recently even stopped taking
Septra to ward off PCP. Since she endured a desensitization protocol
in order to take Septra -- a rigorous schedule of steadily
increasingCarie Ford-Broecker doses to build her tolerance of the
drug -- and she'd have to undergo the protocol again to resume
taking Septra, this was the last medical therapy to go.
Avoiding all medications often spells trouble for people who have
been diagnosed with AIDS, but there are no outward manifestations of
ill health for Ford-Broecker. With her blonde hair, tanned skin and
joyful nature, she looks like the picture of healthy California
living. "I just take my vitamins, which all HIV negative people
should do anyway," she says.
Before her expedition into radically healing herself,
Ford-Broecker had taken the more well-traveled road of Western
medicines. But her original journey through the epidemic provided
her close experience with the dying process. "My first husband,
Scott Ford, died several years ago, and caring for him made me
stronger. I didn't project his illness onto me, as some people do."
After her husband's death, Ford-Broecker (then Carie Ford) went
to work in the field of AIDS care as the director of client services
at the Monterey County AIDS Project. "It was a dream job and I was
happy for so long. But the job took a toll. The and grief over lost
clients made my T-cells drop from 400 to 30 in one year."
The big drop shocked and frustrated Ford at first -- even more so
because it occurred during the same year she fell deeply in love
with her current husband, Scott Broecker, who was absolutely certain
that she could completely heal herself of AIDS -- if she set her
mind to it.
"He is central to my entire outlook," says Ford-Broecker. But
even she was originally skeptical about his belief that she could
cure herself. "My first thoughts about his optimism were: 'That's so
sweet, but he really doesn't know what he's talking about.' But now
I have a whole new reason to live. The joy and love I feel in my
life for everyone and everything is so intense that I cannot imagine
dying from AIDS."
Ford-Broecker's simple biological explanation for her regimen is
that her cells are energy which can be changed. She abstractly
visualizes HIV, which she says can be changed into benign matter.
Every day Ford-Broecker visualizes her future that's filled with
happiness and joy. "I see my future and send light and energy to it.
My future self sends light and energy to me in return. That's the
crux of my program -- this creative future. And I have only one
future that I'm looking into."
Ford-Broecker doesn't advocate her approach for everyone with HIV
or other life-challenging illnesses. She says you must be in the
right place at the right time -- mentally, emotionally, spiritually
and physically. "Commitment to your own program is key, as is
recognizing that you always have choices. The choices society or
your doctor may give you are not set in stone." The other components
of her philosophy are self-love, a non-judgmental attitude towards
herself and others, and unconditional love of all people.
Ford-Broecker is waiting a while to get tested again for HIV
antibodies. "The physical body is slower than the mind and spirit.
Eventually, though, I'll get tested. I know I will be negative." As
the bookmark lodged in a space on the back of her altar reads: Some
things have to be believed to be seen.