My Life’s Journey

Many people ask the question “Why am I here?” Instead you should ask, ‘I am here, so what am I to do about it?’ -Donald Yance 

Many people have asked me how I’ve come to the healing work that is so central to my life. I regard my life as a pilgrimage, and am honored to share my journey with you

Donnie in the Centre - My Life's Journey
Mederi Center Apothecary

I believe that asking ourselves meaningful questions can help guide us to living an authentic life. In my journey, I have asked myself what I am going to make of my life. My answer has been that I shall look deep inside myself, learn who I am in relation to the Divine, and respond accordingly. This deep soul searching has led me to a longstanding interest in jazz, Franciscan theology, botanical medicine, and cancer research. Although these passions may seem disparate, each one is essential to my being, and they have come together in a unique synthesis that embodies my life’s work.

I’ve often been told that I have an innate willingness to think outside the boundaries of the status quo. I have been blessed with a natural insatiable curiosity, a passion for learning and research, and a photographic memory. These traits, along with my dedication to a path of healing, have served me well.

I was born in Stamford, Connecticut in 1959. Raised as a Roman Catholic, I found myself drawn to living in a monastery at the age of twenty-two. At that time, I professed as a Byzantine Catholic and a Franciscan. Although I left the monastery after three years, I continue to be inspired by the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, who is known throughout the world as a lover of nature. My spiritual beliefs infuse my life with the desire to be of service, and to meet the world with a loving heart.

My passion for music began at the age of thirteen when I started playing the bass guitar. I’ve always had a particular affinity for jazz, and have been especially inspired by the great jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, who said, “My music is the spiritual expression of what I am—my faith, my knowledge, my being.” Music is an essential part of my spirituality, and I am grateful that I have had—and continue to have—many opportunities to perform as a musician, including playing in a band while living in the monastery.

Another early inspiration for me was the book “Back to Eden”, written by the herbalist Jethro Kloss. This book has become an herbal classic in the folkloric tradition, recording wisdom that has been passed down through the centuries. Kloss described plants as being a reflection of God, which appealed to me on a spiritual level. I was also intrigued by the idea that some of the best medicine for cancer comes in the form of the humble plants that we label as “weeds.”

Playing the bass

While living in the monastery, I suffered a health crisis that helped lead me to my path of healing work. I came down with pneumonia, and for the first time, really experienced illness and vulnerability. When I recovered, I found that I wanted to devote my life to the humble work of living a life of service. I realized that people needed not just to be fed physically but nourished spiritually. And I also realized that food devoid of adequate nutrition didn’t provide the nourishment the body needs to deal with adversity.

As a result, I pursued studies in herbal medicine through Sequoyah College of Herbology and nutrition at the National Institute of Nutritional Education. I subsequently opened Food for Thought, a natural foods store in Westport, Connecticut in partnership with my friend Alex, whom I had played in several bands with. Working in the supplement department, I spent my days answering customer’s questions about nutrition, herbs, and health. Eventually, I began practicing out of the back room of the store, where I was able to provide health consultations for people with a wide variety of health conditions. As my practice grew, the need to open a clinic became apparent. In 1992, The Centre for Natural Healing opened in Norwalk, Connecticut.

I have always been inspired by the beauty of the natural landscape in Oregon, and had a vision of opening a healing retreat and clinic in Southern Oregon. This dream became manifest in 1999 when I moved my clinic and home to Ashland, Oregon. I have been blessed since moving here: My current path includes the development and expansion of a highly advanced collaborative medical approach called the Eclectic Triphasic Medical System (ETMS), operating a clinic (Mederi Center) and compounding herbal and nutritional dispensary, formulating for our botanical and nutritional product line company (Natura Health Products), and overseeing a non-profit foundation (the Mederi Foundation) that is the umbrella organization for the Mederi Center.

My work is ever evolving, fueled by my passion for truth and healing. I hold professional clinical training programs in Ashland twice yearly to train others in the ETMS model, and am currently working with two major institutions to develop clinical research trials in ETMS and cancer care. My original vision (still to be realized) included building a clinic that would become a destination for people confronting health crises—a place to come for personal attention as they journey back to health, supported by the ETMS approach and a compliment of healing modalities.

The Yance Family
(from left Clarissa, Stella, Wiley the dog, Jen, Coltrane and Donnie)

I continue my daily research, my writing, and my dedication to being of service. My devotion to my Eastern Christian Franciscan theology and lifestyle continues to inspire and guide my work. My loving wife Jen plays a central role in everything I am and everything that I do. She manages the complexity of our lives—both business and personal—with intelligence, love, and grace. She is both a wonderful support for me, and a visionary in her own right. Everything happens because of her.

I have three wonderful children all raised on herbal medicine, whole foods, and love:  My oldest daughter, Clarissa Noel, age 18; my youngest daughter Stella Francesca, age 6; and my son Coltrane DeFrancesco (named after my favorite musician John Coltrane), age 4. As you might imagine, life is busy in our household. Jen and I both enjoy cooking, and my specialty is baking, especially birthday cakes and healthy chocolate chip cookies. (I promise to post a few original recipes in this blog.)

I continue to be deeply passionate about music. I am a jazz/fusion bass player and composer, and have recently released a CD of original music (Under the Sun) with the band Infusion ( I also play in a local cover band called ‘The Lincoln Project,’ which plays gigs around Southern Oregon. God, jazz music, botanical medicine, whole food cooking, family, nature, and basketball inspire and enrich my life, fueling my passion for bringing love and healing to all whom I am blessed to encounter.

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One Reply to “My Life’s Journey”

  1. Dear Donald,

    I have only recently stumbled upon adaptogens . I am intrigued and fascinated by it. As I did
    more research and reading, I came across your name and I am starting to read your book,
    Adaptogen in Medical Herbalism. Then I discovered your website and your noble cause in helping cancer patients.

    I am not sure why I am writing to you – I suppose I just wanted to connect and express my interest in adaptogen and natural healing but also just to tell you that there is someone out there
    – and I am sure millions more – who admires and follows your work.

    I can’t wait to read all your writings and publications and am following you on social media.

    Be safe and best blessings to you and your family.

    Robin Tan
    Kuala Lumpur,

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