Archive for the ‘spirituality’ Category

Blog Back: Finding Meaning Through Spiritual Questions and Evaluation

February 17, 2014

AshleyBurczak“Blog Back” is our monthly column that featuring thoughts and stories from the Living Beyond Breast Cancer staff. This month’s columnist is Ashley Burczak, MDiv, LBBC’s volunteer coordinator. In this blog post, Ashley discusses spirituality, including how it is different, yet not mutually exclusive from religion, what it has the potential to do and the kind of spiritual questions you may ask yourself during your breast cancer journey.


When people hear the word “spirituality,” they often think of religion, but spirituality is really a much broader term. It refers to anything that you feel gives your life meaning, and even to the questions you are asking about meaning—questions like “what is important to me?” and “am I living my life the way I want to?” I believe that everyone has some way of making meaning in life, and that means that everyone has spirituality, even if they identify as completely nonreligious.

Many people, when initially asked whether a breast cancer diagnosis brought up any spiritual questions for them, will say that it didn’t. They may answer this way because they don’t consider themselves religious and don’t think that they could have a spiritual life without a religious faith or belief in supernatural phenomena, or because they are very religious, and think of “spiritual questions” as indicating doubt in their faith—something they try hard to avoid.

In truth, I haven’t spoken to many people with a cancer diagnosis who haven’t had some kind of spiritual issue come up in the course of diagnosis and treatment. A diagnosis of a life-threatening illness brings up the reality of death, and facing death has a way of making us reevaluate life, whether we have strong faith or no faith at all. (more…)

Our New Vision and Mission

August 20, 2013

2012JeanSachsHeadshotVer2Web

This morning, Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s CEO Jean Sachs released the following message to our friends and supporters:

Dear Friends:

All of us at Living Beyond Breast Cancer are excited to share our new vision and mission statements with you:

Our new vision

A world where no one impacted by breast cancer feels uninformed or alone.

Our new mission

To connect people with trusted breast cancer information and a community of support.

These new statements were developed with the help of over 1,200 of you who responded to a survey we sent out earlier this year. Your input was used in a day-long retreat with members of the board of directors and staff. We learned what LBBC services are valued most and why so many have come to depend on our educational programs and services that allow for connection to others diagnosed with breast cancer.

For me, these new statements say with clarity what we strive to do every day and what we hope to achieve over time. Yesterday, I spoke with a long-time friend who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.  She was overwhelmed, scared and shocked. Our conversation and the resources I was able to put in her hands grounded her and provided her with enough comfort and confidence to take the next step.

This is what LBBC does every day, and it is exactly what the new vision and mission statements express.

I hope you share my enthusiasm and, as always, if you have comments I would love to hear from you.

Warmly,

Jean 

Jean A. Sachs, MSS, MLSP

Chief Executive Officer

LBBC

YOGA ON THE STEPS: WASHINGTON, DC REGISTRATION NOW OPEN

March 13, 2013

 

2013YOTSDCLargeIcon

 

Registration is now open for Yoga on the Steps: Washington DC, the signature education and fundraising event for Haverford, PA-based nonprofit Living Beyond Breast Cancer.  The event is scheduled to take place rain or shine beginning at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 13 on the northeast quadrant of The Washington Monument.  The highlight of the event is a one-hour yoga class for all ages and skill levels designed and led by Yoga Alliance certified instructor and founder of Yoga Unites® Jennifer Schelter, MFA with Kirtan accompaniment by Yvette Pecoraro and other local area musicians. After the class, participants can enjoy refreshments while visiting a Healthy Living Expo where event sponsors, local area businesses, yoga studios and nonprofit organizations will feature products and services promoting health and wellness.

“While Yoga on the Steps is similar to other nonprofit grassroots fundraisers it really is a one-of-kind event,” explains Jenna Jackson, LBBC’s special events manager.  “People are asked to register as a team captain or participant at yogaonthesteps.org and then fundraise for LBBC by asking family, friends and colleagues for donations. But instead of using a walk or run as our event’s centerpiece, we feature a yoga class.  Jennifer has designed the class so that anyone, regardless of skill level or body type can participate. Yoga on the Steps is a unique and powerful education program in its promotion of yoga as an important part of a person’s overall wellness plan.” t is scheduled to take place rain or shine beginning at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 13 on the northeast quadrant of The Washington Monument.  The highlight of the event is a one-hour yoga class for all ages and skill levels designed and led by Yoga Alliance certified instructor and founder of Yoga Unites® Jennifer Schelter, MFA with Kirtan accompaniment by Yvette Pecoraro and other local area musicians. After the class, participants can enjoy refreshments while visiting a Healthy Living Expo where event sponsors, local area businesses, yoga studios and nonprofit organizations will feature products and services promoting health and wellness.

What has grown into LBBC’s signature education and fundraising event began after Schelter’s friend and student, Courtney Kapp, was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Kapp wanted to use her home as a place where women with the disease could form a support network through the practice of yoga. She asked Jennifer to teach the class and also introduced her to LBBC’s executive director (now chief executive officer) Jean Sachs, MSS, MLSP. Together, the three women founded Yoga on the Steps.

“Now,” says Sachs, “thousands of people, most with no formal training, annually attend Yoga on the Steps in different cities to raise awareness of LBBC’s resources, stand in solidarity with women diagnosed with breast cancer and honor the memories of those who are no longer with us.”

Studies continue to indicate a correlation between yoga’s stretching exercises, controlled breathing and relaxation techniques with stress reduction, lower blood pressure and improved heart function. “More and more studies we’ve been seeing, especially over the last few years, really confirm the relevance of Yoga on the Steps,” states Sachs.

 

A study conducted by UCLA researchers suggests that yoga can help women overcome post-treatment fatigue which is estimated to affect as many as one-third of women currently in breast cancer treatment. The research, which was published December 16, 2011 in the journal Cancer, discovered that after three-months-worth of twice-weekly yoga classes, “a group of breast cancer survivors in California reported significantly diminished fatigue and increased vigor,” Andrew M. Seaman of Reuters Health said. Cancer, Volume 118, Issue 15

In addition, at the 34th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium held in 2011, a study presented findings that women with metastatic breast cancer might benefit from the practice of yoga, as well. A small randomized trial was collaboratively conducted by yogis and physicians, including S.K. Gopinath, MD, from the Department of Surgical, Medical and Radiation Oncology at the HCG-BIO Super Specialty Center in Bangalore, Karnataka, India. The researchers found data that suggest the practice of yoga might reduce psychological distress and modulate abnormal cortisol levels as well as immune responses in patients with stage-IV disease. Medscape News Today

In 2011, LBBC began the implementation of a national Yoga on the Steps expansion initiative developed by the organization’s Board of Directors and senior staff as part of LBBC’s 2011-2015 strategic plan.  “Yoga on the Steps is a low-cost, high-return way to introduce LBBC resources to communities that may not know of their availability,” explains Sachs.  “We’ve established annual events in Philadelphia, Washington, DC and Denver with Kansas City, Missouri recently named as our fourth Yoga on the Steps host city.”

“The increasing popularity of yoga is a big factor in the growing success of the event,” she continues. “But more than that, it’s LBBC’s reputation of sound fiscal management and the trust our supporters have in us that energizes Yoga on the Steps participants to fundraise for LBBC at the grassroots level. We maintain the lowest overhead possible for the event ensuring our resources are always available to anyone in need.”

LBBC’s most recent annual report, released in July of 2011, shows that 86 cents of every donated dollar is used to fund services. For eight consecutive years LBBC has been awarded a four-star rating by Charity Navigator, the  country’s leading organization that evaluates American nonprofits, signifying it exceeds industry standards and outperforms most other charities within its cause. LBBC 2011 Annual Report

Businesses wanting to learn more about national and local sponsorship opportunities and benefits are asked to contact LBBC’s associate director of marketing and corporate relations Kevin Gianotto, at kevin@lbbc.org. General Yoga on the Steps and Healthy Living Expo questions should be directed to Jackson by emailing jenna@lbbc.org. 

About

LBBC provides services designed to help improve quality of life for women who are newly diagnosed, in treatment, recovery, years beyond their diagnosis or living with metastatic breast cancer as well as resources for family, friends and caregivers.  National conferences, monthly teleconferences, regional community meetings, the Guides to Understanding Breast Cancer and a toll-free Survivors’ Helpline are examples of the services that are provided to help them make informed decisions for themselves and their families. 

If you are or someone you know is living with a history of breast cancer, regardless of stage of diagnosis, age, race, religion, sexual orientation or ability to pay, LBBC can help. For more information, visit lbbc.org to download a free copy of Empower, LBBC’s general information brochure or call (610) 645-4567.

Amy Hauser: Horses.Healing.Hope. (Part Two of a Two-Part Series)

November 19, 2012

Amy Hauser never considered herself destined to be an author. From her self admitted “life-long inability to properly start and stop paragraph formations, among other things,” to being busy raising two children full time, a book simply was not on the radar.  Until God said otherwise. Today, the LBBC Blog welcomes back Amy to tell her story of how her religion and horses helped her to survive.

My journey through breast cancer also left me with a deep desire to positively impact other women who were travelling down similar paths. I knew that the compilation of my life’s trials had brought me to a point of greater connection with God, including during the breast cancer fight, yet realized not all women were similarly impacted. I felt led to point others to Him in a unique manner, while sharing our common struggles. I also wanted to address the aspect of cancer that seems to go almost unnoticed by the medical industry, which is to help guide women through the process of living beyond treatment as they navigate the often isolating stage of the “new normal” – where hair is growing back, the phone calls and meals dwindle and the doctors and surgeons release you from care. Fear and anxiety so often enter the scene and can consume a woman as she is often unprepared for this stage – a stage she was looking forward to with so much joyful anticipation!

Horses.Healing.Hope. (HHH) was created to help women navigate the inevitable emotional phases encountered during the healing journey. HHH blends nature, the horse and equine assisted therapy in a relaxed, peaceful environment, allowing women an escape from the everyday surroundings of post-cancer life. Horses have an amazing ability to reflect our emotional states – to help each of us identify and get in touch with our true heart – and its related wounds.

Today HHH offers sessions that meet weekly for two hours, for seven weeks. HHH has been a huge success in the North Houston, Texas area and we are excited to see it grow. We will also launch a program for newly diagnosed women facing breast cancer and are creating connections to women who have gone before them, to learn how to heal and grow in their walk with Christ.  These are not riding programs, but rather creative healing programs that utilize the horse as a tool toward increased overall healing.

In following this internal desire to help others, I have helped myself. Taking the focus off of my own circumstances and looking beyond, I have healed a part of my soul that could only be touched through serving the needs of others. Maybe serving should be a written prescription for all of us as we navigate life’s trials!

It is our dream to see HHH one day become the foundation of Made For More ministries HEALING RANCH. These ideas have been planted in my husband Tom’s and my heart for some time – to have a refuge that not only reaches out to cancer survivors, but also a place for entire families to have a respite from the ever-present “C” word – a getaway retreat that hosts both HHH retreats as well as ongoing sessions.

If you would like to learn more about Horse.Healing.Hope., sponsorship opportunities, Made For More, or IN HIS GRIP, please visit Amy and Tom’s website at www.MadeforMoreministries.com or like them on Facebook under “Made for More ministries.”

Amy Hauser: In His Grip (Part One of a Two-Part Series)

November 5, 2012

Amy Hauser never considered herself destined to be an author. From her self admitted “life-long inability to properly start and stop paragraph formations, among other things,” to being busy raising two children full time, a book simply was not on the radar.  Until God said otherwise. Today, the LBBC Blog welcomes Amy to tell her story of how her religion helped her to survive.

My name is Amy Hauser and I am a fellow survivor of breast cancer.  Here is my story. It’s a simple story of an ordinary life and its challenges intersecting with an extraordinary God. With that, I think it is worth telling.

I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in May 2010 after discovering a walnut sized lump under my arm just two days after my annual well-woman exam.  What a mammogram was unable to detect, an ultrasound verified – that cancer had entered my lymph system. At 43, I began a six-month intensive chemotherapy plan, underwent a bilateral mastectomy and lymph node dissection, then a final reconstruction surgery. The entire process lasted roughly 12 months. During this time, God revealed Himself in mighty ways.

Before, during, and after my walk with breast cancer, my prayer was for God to show me His plan for my life, to show me how to use past trials (pre-cancer, that is) in unique ways that would bring blessing to others. The answers to those prayers has changed the course of my life as well as that of my family’s.

After the diagnosis, I reluctantly started to journal. I agreed it would be a way to streamline information, and keep me from getting tired of repeating my medical updates over and over again. The blogging quickly became an outlet for sharing my heart. God would prompt me to share something and instead of letting the fear of judgment from others rule, I would share my thoughts. Almost immediately, we were encouraged (and surprised!) to discover that others were gaining inspiration and that the insight channeling through the journal was powerful. That was God.

Several months after treatments had begun and as I began the process of getting life back up and running as normally as I knew how, I recall sensing God asking, “Just when are you going to start writing my book?”  I sorted through the doubt, heeded the lessons He taught me through cancer and that next week I began IN HIS GRIP…A Walk Through Breast Cancer.

IHG is a raw, open glimpse of a day in the life of a cancer patient and the story of God intersecting a life in progress. It is a story of how God works in the midst of our biggest struggles IF WE CHOOSE TO LET HIM. Not only will you get to know my family before, during, and after the cancer journey, you will see reflections that share what was learned after the fact.  This story shows how God worked not only on the struggles that were evident to the rest of the world, but how He worked in and through the cancer to heal deeper, more private wounds.

IHG was completed near the two-year anniversary of the lump discovery – a discovery that I initially thought would change my whole world.  Interestingly enough, it did change my whole world, but not as I expected.  While I thought breast cancer would rock me off my foundation, it did quite the opposite.  It cleared that foundation from clutter and allowed me to firmly anchor to what was lying beneath – the solid rock that was so readily available and intended for this purpose.  I just had to be willing to look and allow some of the clean up to take place.  Storms will continue to come. I don’t welcome them but I know they are inevitable – inevitable in ALL our lives, whether cancer or otherwise.  I know this story, His story, will be an inspiration for trials of MANY kinds.

God not only answered my cancer prayers, but my pre-cancer ones as well. From the inspiration to write IHG, to showing me how to “find my purpose and share with others through UNIQUE ways.”

Prior to the discovery of the lump, we formalized a ministry called Made For More, developing and sharing some unique women’s programs. Since the cancer, my husband Tom and I have fully launched M4M.  Several aspects have grown out of various trials in our own lives, cancer being only one of them.  An outreach program that I am excited to share is our newly developed HORSES.HEALING.HOPE. For Breast Cancer Survivors. It is an Equine Assisted Therapy program, currently offered in the North Houston, Texas area.

NO matter what your religious or spiritual beliefs, LBBC recognizes the strength that many woman find in their faith. Amy lives in The Woodlands, Texas with her husband, Tom and their two children, Ross (17) and Sara (12). Visit their websites to earn more about  HORSE.HEALING.HOPE for Breast Cancer Survivors and In His Grip:A Walk Through Breast Cancer.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 183 other followers