The Passion Behind My Mission…
Who am I, you wonder, and why do I love helping people with cancer?
Hi, I’m Mark Bricca. Feel free to call me Mark if you’d like to. One of the things I appreciate most about serious illness is the way it strips away everything that is not essential to our lives. It’s often uncompromising in its insistence that we live our lives with deep soulfulness and it can remind us, sometimes fiercely, that we have no time to lose. It frees us to travel more lightly and to relate to others with more intimacy, honesty, and compassion. Thus, I may be a physician, but I’m still also just “Mark.”
I’d love to tell you a little about myself. Just as I invite people to bring their whole selves to our healing work together, I try and bring my whole self to my practice at Bodhicitta Healing Arts. I really want you to be able to lean into me for support if you choose to share your healing journey with me, so I’d like you to know me not just as a doctor, but as a human being as well.
I think I chose Cancer Care for my life’s work as much as it chose me. I was born nearly 3 months premature with an inherited immune system deficiency and, as a result, I was often quite sick through my childhood and early adolescent years. When I was almost six years old I was a bone marrow donor for my oldest brother, Barry, who ultimately died of leukemia when he was fifteen. These experiences instilled a deep appreciation in me for the gifts of conventional Western medicine, and they initiated me onto a path of seeking insight into the nature of healing, health, and illness.
Barry’s experience with leukemia touched my family deeply, and my other brother, Greg, now practices as a gifted surgical dermatologist specializing in the treatment of melanoma. I chose to study and practice naturopathic and Chinese medicine because herbs and nutrition were such a help to me when I was still struggling with significant allergies and asthma as a teenager. I was preparing to attend conventional medical school while I was an undergrad at the University of Oregon when Rita Conway, a naturopathic physician, came to speak to a class I was taking called Frontiers in Medicine. That day I met a fork in my life’s road that sealed my fate; and I chose the path less traveled.
In 1998 I began my studies at the National College of Natural Medicine here in Portland, Oregon, first in naturopathic and then in Chinese medicine. Over the next 8 years I studied and practiced with leading authorities in these fields while I devoted myself to specialization in cancer care. I had the good fortune to treat hundreds of patients alongside experts in conventional and complementary oncology from China, Europe, and the United States, as well as to spend time practicing classical herbalism, qigong, and meditation in China.
Today, in addition to working one-on-one with people at Bodhicitta Healing Arts I regularly speak to cancer support groups as well. I love the opportunities these groups provide for mutual support, and the way they help us all to see that we’re not alone in our human struggles. My interest in the spiritual and emotional dimensions of healing and end-of-life care led me to the practice of Buddhism and have helped me to understand medicine as a kind of spiritual ‘work.’ In many respects, my medical practice and my beloved patients teach me more than anything else about how to live life well and cultivate compassion for all beings. I feel immensely grateful for this teaching.
What else is there to say about me? Well… when I’m not at Bodhicitta Healing Arts I love to visit farmers’ markets and then bring home my bounty and pretend to be a gourmet chef. I also like to read good poetry and go for long hikes or runs in the woods, where I find great solace. I spent some time living in Italy, and it would take a veritable mountain of scientific evidence to convince me that espresso, red wine, pecorino cheese, and prosciutto (all in moderation, of course!) are not foods that nourish body and soul alike.
I feel incredibly privileged to do the work that I do and honored to have the trust of those who choose to share their healing with me. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or if I can be of service to you on your healing path.
My devout wish is for your health and healing. Deep peace,