All Photos: Lori Denman-Underhill
After the metaphorical dust settles of music festivals, there is often a focus on negative stories that come out. The reason for this is simple: there will always be some of these, and they are easy to latch onto. We reported on a girl falling off the stage at Mysteryland, and this was just one of the darker stories to come from the official start of festival season.
After the very literal dust settled at Lightning In A Bottle in Bradley, California over the weekend, there was a story that sat on the complete opposite side of the spectrum and geared towards inspiring and heartwarming. Meet Stephanie Stearns. The long time lover of electronic music since the early 90's has always had a passion for the scene, known for attending small underground events before the EDM world took off.
In 2013 though, Stearns was diagnosed through blood tests with acute myeloid leukemia, or AML. This disease attacks the tissue in the bone marrow that forms blood cells, including while blood cells which are essential to the immune system. Symptoms of range from extreme fatigue and shortness of breath to severe bruising and increased chance of bacterial infections.
This may have left many too devastated to push forward in life, but after multiple rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, Stearns was in remission and ready to attend LIB. Sleep and sitting around was instead replaced by pounding bass, good vibes, and the love of everyone around her.
Stephanie Stearns with her son, Tyler
This is what sets LIB apart. Constant yoga class and workshops, along with activities for kids. She was able to bring her 3-year-old song Tyler along for the journey, taking part in the "Kidz Village" and Family Camp. She longed to dance after battling her illness for over a year and a half, and LIB was the perfect place to do that. Eyes closed, feeling transcendent, and separated from the pain she had experienced.
Stearns stated: “I love all the music. I don’t know what the track was, or the artist, but there was [one] saying, ‘I’m a dancer, not the DJ.’ And my son danced for the first time here. He won’t dance for me at home. But the first thing he did when he arrived is he peeled off to the side, took a little tangent and got down on the dance floor in front of Mom!”
These are the stories we love to hear from music festivals, and the story of Stephanie Stearns is an inspiration and tribute to events like LIB that focus their attention less on partying and more on healing and transformation. You can read more about Stephanie and her amazing story of extreme perseverance and passion for dance via LA Weekly.
Stephanie discusses essential oil treatment options with Dr. Nick Berry