Russian Federation: Olga Sokolova

Celebrate life!

— Olga Sokolova

In 1991 Olga Sokolova (born 1948) was diagnosed with cancer, a fact which radically changed her life. Olga earned a PhD in Psychology, working out a therapeutic method of rehabilitation for cancer patients. In directing the regional organization Shans dlia nadiezhdy (A Chance for Hope), dealing with the problems of those living with terminal illnesses, she conducts 40 seminar groups in many regions of Russia for sick people and members of their families. In 2002, she was awarded the Achievement Prize of the Open Society Institute for her contribution to health care in Russia.

Olga Sokolova was living a quiet life, happy with her family and the project team at the institute where she was a valued colleague. Her work was in total harmony with her expectations, when she was diagnosed with cancer. The illness turned her entire life upside down. When a diagnosis sounds like a death sentence, the inevitable thought follows: why me? And Olga began her long search for an answer, a search for means to defeat fear, to live and enjoy life. She worked out her own diet, her own system of exercise, and she reflected upon the life of her soul. The conclusion that cancer was rooted in anguish and trauma forced deep into the subconscious, led her to psychology and to religion. It is easy to write about it now, when the happy ending is a given. But how difficult it was not to break down, when Olga could not see what the future would bring: her demise or a triumph. She decided to help not only herself, but other sick people as well. She went to the hospital and worked with the patients. She discussed her ideas with those willing to listen, and she supported those who were losing hope. Then she brought in priests who, in the very wards, baptized and confessed those who so wished. Olga decided to become a medical doctor and began to study despite her advanced age when, according to the generally accepted opinion, all that is left is to wait for retirement. In the course of research activities, Olga gathered a large quantity of material on the psychology of oncology. At first, it was hard to win the recognition of experienced doctors, but now they applaud her after her lectures. Olga, as before, directs exercise groups for cancer patients every Friday. Today, her method of healing is held in high esteem. The free and voluntary sessions have already helped to save the lives of many people, and they helped to provide many others with a chance for hope.

Shans dlia nadiezhdy (A Chance for Hope)