Over the course of our almost 3 years in business I have pondered the idea of adding a blog to our website. I would occasionally draft a post, think it was not compelling enough to share, and then forget about the idea for a while. It was always my intent to share yoga-related stories or information but my writing tends to be very personal and I therefore shied away from the public forum.
Now that I am finally making the leap to writing a blog post it is my most personal writing to date. I have breast cancer. For me, it’s hard to say that, but I’ve come along way on this difficult journey.
Cancer is not a big secret, and many people who are diagnosed jump right onto social media and share with the world. There were many times I thought of posting my diagnosis on social media but chose to be more private about what I was going through. In the beginning it was hard for me to tell anyone, and I took my time slowly letting people know. My astrological sign is cancer the crab (of course nothing to do with the disease). My character traits are pretty typical of the cancer sign, and just like a little crab when I feel threatened or hurt I want to pull back into my shell and hide. This was my initial reaction to cancer but it can be quite lonely in that little shell. The more I opened up and told people what was going on the more support I received, and I even met some wonderful new friends also dealing with cancer by poking my head out of the shell.
So over the course of several months I shared my experience slowly in my own way but then I would wonder if I should share more publicly and be part of the brave group of women who speak out to normalize breast cancer and help other women to feel less alone. I wasn’t quite sure if I was simply being private or was I hiding in my little shell out of fear?
I found it helpful when other women shared their stories publicly, and it made me feel less alone on my journey, so it didn’t quite feel right not to share as well. I was encouraged by two very different women who shared their story. Both were already public figures but could have chosen to be silent or reserved about their diagnosis, and I am so grateful they did not. The two women are Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Shiva Rea.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (whom I a big fan of) was diagnosed near the same time I was in late 2017. I rarely use Instagram, but when I saw the news that she had breast cancer I immediately started following her. I love her spunky attitude toward cancer which is basically giving cancer the big middle finger and a strong F* you cancer! In the beginning I did not feel strong at all, though I put on brave face for my yoga students and out in public, I felt everything but strong. So I was surprised that I received strength and encouragement just by quietly watching her from behind the scenes, safely in my little crab shell.
Then in May of 2018 Shiva Rea shared that she had breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. In a social media post she discussed that she wasn’t quite sure what her treatment path would be following surgery and that she was considering all healing modalities including chemotherapy. Shiva referred to chemo as ‘the Fierce Nectar’ and that was something I desperately needed to hear.
I can attest that chemo is no doubt fierce, and you have to take it like a warrior. But the word nectar spoke to my heart and gave me the courage to keep going. Though the hardest of my treatments ended in April I’ve struggled getting through the remaining weekly treatments that leave me fatigued and impatient to get the whole thing over. Telling myself I can take the Fierce Nectar for just a few more weeks helped me to keep going. As I write this, just 3 more to go.
It’s amazing what a change in perspective can do. Recently I’ve been reading The Book of Joy, a conversation between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Below is an passage about perspective from the Dalai Lama.
"Sadly, many of the things that undermine our joy and happiness we create ourselves. Often it comes from the negative tendencies of the mind, emotional reactivity, or from our inability to appreciate and utilize the resources that exist within us. The suffering from a natural disaster we cannot control, but the suffering from our daily disasters we can. We create most of our suffering, so it should be logical that we also have the ability to create more joy. It simply depends on the attitudes, the perspectives, and the reactions we bring to situations and to our relationships with other people. When it comes to personal happiness there is a lot that we as individuals can do."
We can change our life with a change in perspective. I have three more treatments and then time to rest before surgery in late August. I plan to teach yoga as often as I can when I have the energy from now until surgery. Thanks everyone for your patience and support. I have mounds of gratitude for my wonderful yoga community.
With love and gratitude,