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Tibetan Refugee Speaks On Adversity, Opportunity After Cancer Diagnosis

Lady Jangchup Palmo
Lady Jangchup Palmo

Lady Jangchup Palmo reacted in a unique way the moment she was diagnosed with cancer. “Her first response was laughter, joy,” says Jigme Rinpoche, her son.

This is because Lady Palmo, a Tibetan refugee who was instrumental in bringing the Dalai Lama to Eugene last May, sees this life threatening disease — now in its fourth stage — as a natural part of life. “She doesn’t look at it as an obstacle or a punishment,” Rinpoche says (Tibetan honorific for “precious one”), “but rather as a blessing in disguise because it gives her an opportunity to grow.” 

And now she will also use her experiences as an opportunity to bring her knowledge and insight to others. On May 8 Lady Palmo will visit LCC to speak about “transforming adversity into opportunity” — a topic in which she is well versed and that she believes can be of use to everyone.

“Looking at the world today, we urgently need a vision, and a courage to overcome our narrow, selfish interests,” Palmo says. “From a Buddhist point of view, all suffering comes from oneself.”

Lady Palmo was 15 years old when the Communist Chinese invaded her native Tibet, and the conflict took the lives of both her parents and four of her siblings. She endured bullet wounds and captivity and now lives far away from her homeland, moving to Oregon in 1997.

Since her youth, Lady Palmo has devoted her life to accepting, embracing and incorporating changes, even the negative ones — and that has not changed with her cancer diagnosis. Her commitment has not gone unnoticed here in Eugene. 

“Just this morning, while on her walk with my brother, a man presented her with a flower,” Rinpoche says. “Things like this happen all the time.”

And looking at her frail but still vibrant figure, one can see why. “We are all looking for happiness,” she says.

Lady Palmo speaks at 6:30 pm Thursday, May 8, in the Raggozino Performance Hall, LCC. It is a free event, but a “love-based offering” of $10 is suggested.