Posts Tagged ‘Living Beyond Breast Cancer’

My dear sweet Lola: I have the dreaded C-word

May 6, 2014

pink warriorA couple of months ago we introduced Tiffany Mannino who is sharing with us personal journal entries written in letter format penned to her unborn daughter while traveling through her breast cancer journey. In her collection of letters Beautifully Broken: Letters From a Girl/Woman/Human in Progress she reflects on her five year journey with letting go of the past, facing fears, learning to love, finding happiness in the moment, and realizing that she is exactly where she is supposed to be in life. Here is her first entry of 2010 where she takes a moment to look back on the highs and lows of the previous 10 years which culminated with her hearing the words “You have breast cancer” at the age of 36… 

January 3, 2010

Dear Lola,

Happy New Year, baby! I can’t believe that it is the beginning of a new decade already. I can clearly remember when the new millennium hit and how awe-inspiring that was. I can’t believe what changes the last decade has brought to my life. It was the best of times and the worst.

In summary, I married my teenage love, put my heart and soul into my teaching career, had a pulmonary embolism, watched someone I love battle addiction, divorced, traveled the world, bought a new house, watched two grandparents die, fell in love again and was engaged, broke off the engagement, was selected to film a design show pilot for HGTV, started my own interior design business, and ended the decade by being diagnosed with breast cancer. (more…)

Yoga on the Steps: Philadelphia ‘The Heroine’s Journey’

May 1, 2014

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As we all prepare for LBBC‘s May 18’s beautiful yoga experience, we have a message from Lead Instructor and Yoga on the Steps Co-Founder Jennifer C. Schelter and Kirtan musician Yvette Pecoraro about the theme of this year’s Yoga event. 

 

We all know that Yoga is the physical (asana) practice. However, when combined with the basics of contemplation, meditation or self-reflection, the practice is enhanced and can be life-giving and inspiring.

 

This year’s theme for Yoga on the Steps 2014 is “The Heroine’s Journey.”  (And if you are a man, it’s the ‘Hero’s Journey’.) The foremost characteristics of the Heroine’s Journey are:

1. Acceptance of life’s vicissitudes.

2. Listening to your own inner voice.

3. Allowing yourself to be supported by community i.e.. friends, family, co workers.

4. Trusting yourself to make choices one step at time.

 

Click here for the link to a meditation we created for the Yoga on the Steps kick off event entitled “Value your Dreams.”  Take 4 minutes to breathe and listen.

 

We look forward to seeing you on the Philadelphia Art Museum steps.

 

Here’s to your health and well-being,

Jennifer Schelter and Yvette Pecoraro

 

Ps. If you have any questions about yoga, meditation or how to further your next steps, please visit us at www.JenniferSchelter.com and www.YvetteOm.com. We welcome your inquiries at Jennifer@JenniferSchelter.com and Yvette@YvetteOm.com.

 

Our Yoga on the Steps Class Instructor

Jennifer C. Schelter, Lead Instructor and Yoga on the Steps Co-Founder

Jennifer is an inspirational thought-leader, called “One of the Most Inspiring Philadelphians” by US Airways Magazine, “ A Real Goddess” in the “People Who Make The News” by Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Cover Model for “Best of 2013” Philadelphia Magazine’s Be Well Philly.  She has supported over 40,000 women and men from Wharton Leadership and Management Programs, Fortune 500 Companies to breast cancer patients (Co-Founder of Yoga On the Steps for Living Beyond Breast cancer) and families for 17 years as a professional coach, teacher, writer, actress, and entrepreneur.  She is the Founder and Leader of the Radiant Retreat to Maya Tulum, Mexico, Yoga Unites non-profit, producer of “am awake” CD and “The Art of Vinyasa Yoga” DVD. Jennifer’s one –woman show, “Love Lessons From Abu Ghraib” which tells the story of Iraqi torture victims and her trip to work with them in Turkey, ran to sold-out audiences at Inter-Act Theatre. She is currently the on-camera life coach and yoga teacher for Veria TV reality show Natural Reboot and host of  “The Leap” an on-line TV program featuring mindfulness-based modalities for healing and rejuvenation.

 

She is available for one-on-one “mini-retreat” mindful strategy sessions as well as groups.

 

Her award winning website: www.jenniferschelter.com

Our Yoga on the Steps Musical Guest

Yvette Pecoraro

Yvette Pecoraro is renowned for her mastery of the call-and-response chanting of mantras and prayers known as Kirtan. She released her critically-acclaimed debut album Into the Arms of Love in 2010 and her sophomore follow-up The Song of Breath earlier this year. Her philanthropic work includes not only serving as an advocate and spokeswoman for Living Beyond Breast Cancer but also performing Kirtan accompaniment during Yoga on the Steps in cities across the country.

My Chance to ‘Pay it Forward’

April 22, 2014

photo 4By now most of you know LBBC blogger and volunteer, Caryn Kaplan, with her most recent blog illustrating her thoughts and emotions while attending her very first LBBC Annual Conference for Women Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer  a few years ago. In the years since, Caryn has graciously donated her time, along with many other individuals, to help the conference run smoothly by volunteering for various tasks throughout the conference weekend.  Here she shares why it’s important to her to volunteer for LBBC and what roles she’s looking forward to most at this year’s conference on April 26th and 27th at the Philadelphia Marriott West. 

Looking back, when the email arrived that Living Beyond Breast Cancer needed volunteers to help at the Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference, I quickly hit the reply button and told them I was available…

As I sat on the train taking me into Center City Philadelphia the anticipation was growing inside of me.  Yes, another Women Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer conference.  Of course I knew what to expect since I had attended the previous year.  As the train clamored down the rails and I stared outside at the quickly passing buildings, the excitement of volunteering at the conference was so hard to contain inside of me.  I remembered all of those volunteers that so politely and gently guided us attendees through the conference. I had been volunteering for LBBC at other events but this was different.  I was there to help people with whom I shared a common bond, all of us having been touched by metastatic breast cancer. Yes, I was going to be that gentle and compassionate face on the other side of the table.  The thought of this was so inspiring and empowering to me.  There were several positions that needed to be filled and I really didn’t care what I did because I knew that I was just helping someone and helping LBBC achieve their goal of bringing us all together.  (more…)

Yoga on the Steps: Participant Spotlight

April 21, 2014

downsizeThis week on the LBBC blog, we shine our light on Sue Rosen, a longtime supporter of LBBC and our signature education and fundraising event Yoga on the Steps: Philadelphia. She became aware of LBBC at the inaugural Yoga on the Steps event in 2002.  

Wow!  You have been part of Yoga on the Steps and LBBC for so long.  Tell us more about what drew you to the event and how it affected your life.

I was at the first Yoga Unites, as it was called in the beginning. At the time I was still in treatment for my breast cancer, and was only peripherally acquainted with yoga. I attended the event, and it was a profound experience.  I felt connected to myself and the possibility of being able to heal and become stronger through the practice of yoga.  That is what I walked away from after my first Yoga, and it is what I have continued to incorporate in my life every single day since that first experience.

 

What motivates you and your team when you fundraise for Yoga on the Steps?

I think knowing that the money we ask for on behalf of LBBC is going to fund some of the best and most comprehensive resources for people diagnosed with breast cancer.  I’ve used some of these services, like the Breast Cancer Helpline, and know from first-hand experience how they helped me.  That LBBC makes these resources available for anyone free of charge is also very important and that there are such a large range of services for women of all ages and all stages of breast cancer.

(more…)

Living In The Moment: The Best Lesson Cancer Has Taught Me

April 18, 2014

Ronda In HawaiiRegular LBBC blogger and helpline volunteer, Ronda Walker Weaver is back after reading a post by LBBC staff member Lynn Folkman about the changes a breast cancer diagnosis will bring about in a person’s day to day life. Here, Ronda discusses both the negative and positive effects her journey with breast cancer has had upon her daily life…

During my 4th week of chemo (2nd treatment) I went to dinner with 2 friends. I clearly remember telling them, “I hope I hurry and learn all I need to from this cancer journey, so I don’t have to learn it again. I need to be as focused on this process as possible.” And both of my friends saying, “I think your cancer and treatment will be something you’ll continue to learn from, long after the treatments are finished.” A light bulb went on in my head, and I knew they were speaking the truth. While my cancer treatment was the sprint, my cancer healing and processing is the marathon.

After reading Lynn Folkman’s blog post this past week (originally posted 3/31/14) and her comment about healing being an ongoing process, I realized I am not the only one who feels this. The only difference is that Lynn is 5 years out, and I’m 9 months. However, I certainly am not the same person as before my diagnosis. (more…)

I Was Not Just ‘Another Person’ With Metastatic Breast Cancer

April 17, 2014

Caryn KaplanLast week we introduced new blogger but long-time LBBC friend and volunteer, Caryn Kaplan. In her first story she explained that her cancer had spread to her liver and bones and that she was diagnosed with breast cancer for a third time, this time with metastatic disease. Caryn has attended our Annual Conference for Women Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer  for the past few years and here she shares her memories of that very first time…

As I started my drive down Interstate 95 towards downtown Philadelphia, listening to intently to my audio book, I found that my mind had drifted off the story and to a place that has a story of its own.  I was going to attend my first Women Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference held by Living Beyond Breast Cancer.  I read about it on their website and received publications in the mail and to me-it was a dream come true.  Being diagnosed about a year earlier with metastatic breast cancer, I felt I was alone and very isolated.  Yes, I did know others that had breast cancer, gone through treatment and magically (so it seemed) were okay, living their normal lives.  But me, I was scared of the unknown, and how I perceived how my life would change drastically so I was anxious to find out information about my diagnosis and meet others that shared my disease.  My support system was great but they didn’t understand or could they what I was going though.  In the background my audio book continued to play but all I could think about was what the next two days had in store for me.  I had been to plenty of LBBC community meetings before and always left with more knowledge and contentment.  But I knew this was going to be different. I turned off my boo, and basked in my thoughts and anticipations.

As soon as I walked into the hotel I was immediately greeted warmly by LBBC volunteers as they guided me to my Mecca.  I registered, received my name tag (yes, I did have an identity, I was not just another person with metastatic breast cancer) and walked into the main conference room.  Where was I going sit?  Who was I going to sit with?  How am I going to strike up conversation with them?  I’m not a shy person but this was a whole new ballgame for me. I knew that I had a mission, to be able to connect and share with others about this disease we all had in common.  The excitement grew inside me. (more…)

Long Gone Conversation About Cancer

April 7, 2014

Jenny Burkholder 2013LBBC blogger Jenny Burkholder shares her thoughts on the novel Oz, by Nancy Eimers and how she feels it relates to her personal story and journey with breast cancer…

The last time I saw Jessica alive, we had just watched our 3 and 4 year old daughters perform in their winter concert. Our daughters, like all of the other preschool students, were adorable, and the whole audience melted when they paraded onto the stage sang songs in Spanish. At the time, we were both bald, clearly cancer patients. At that point, I was Stage II and done with chemo and treatment; she was Stage IV and dying. As we walked out into the winter cold, we talked about cancer. At one point she said to me, “If licking the sidewalk would cure me of cancer, I would do it.”

In her 2011 book, Oz, Nancy Eimers, one of my former poetry teachers, imagines a conversation in a parking lot with her friend and colleague, Julie. The poem titled, “Long Gone Conversation about Cancer” is –for Julie. Julie died in 2008 after a 16-year battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

In the first two stanzas, Eimers writes, “The certain dark of a parking lot/not going anywhere: yeah we have to go/and maybe there’s even/ a future awaiting us like two tin cans/on the ends of a string,/maybe we’re both worried soon there won’t be anything/rippling in the string/but we stay a little while.” The image of these two women, lingering in a dark parking lot, a parking lot that will exist after both have driven away, after one has died, is beautiful and heartbreaking. (more…)

Sharing My Experience With DCIS Helped Me Uncover My True Strength

April 2, 2014

Lori KolstadLBBC would like to welcome Lori who is sharing her breast cancer journey with us today. If you or anyone you know has been recently diagnosed with any stage of breast cancer please visit lbbc.org/guides for more information about our Newly Diagnosed publications.

 In an instant, life’s journey took me to an unexpected path.  A routine mammogram changed everything.  On May 9, 2013, Mother’s Day weekend, I was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), often considered the earliest form of breast cancer, in my left breast. It was not a palpable tumor that I could feel with self-exam.  After hearing the biopsy results, I was terrified and in shock.  Breast cancer is not in my family history and I live a healthy lifestyle. I cook balanced meals, grow many of my own vegetables and shop the farmers market.  For the past 25 years, I’ve done cardio and aerobic exercise four times a week.

For five fearful days, I didn’t know how serious it was or what my treatment would involve. When things are uncertain, the mind often finds a way to gravitate to the worst-case scenario. When I met with a breast surgeon, the first thing he said to me was, “You will be okay. You caught this early, this is treatable, and you have options.”   Hearing his words snapped me out of my negative thoughts. I could see a future, I would be okay and I could do what I needed to do.  (more…)

LIVING BEYOND BREAST CANCER HOSTS CONFERENCE

March 21, 2014

Annual-Conference-for-Women-BannerHaverford, PA., Friday, March 14, 2014– Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) has opened registration for its 8th annual conference for women living with metastatic breast cancer.  The event, Enhancing Your Health and Quality of Life, takes place Saturday, April 26 – Sunday April 27, 2014 at the Philadelphia Marriott West in West Conshohocken, Penn.

Breast cancer is considered metastatic (stage IV) when it spreads from the breast to another part of the body such as the lungs, bones, liver or brain.  There are approximately 152,000 women in the United States currently living with metastatic breast cancer and estimates indicate that advances in treatment and care will push that number to 164,000 by the year 2015.(1)  (more…)

Let’s Be Frank…

March 13, 2014

RondaWalker-27Regular LBBC blogger Ronda Walker Weaver is back, and with a topic not many are willing to discuss so frankly…sex. Read what she has to say about this three letter word and her journey with breast cancer…

Sex – the sometimes scary and painful 3 letter word for many of us cancer survivors. I went through surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, and all of the horrible side-effects associated with these procedures. Nine months of struggling to stay alive, and now a year post chemo, I am just beginning to recognize myself. Sadly, hormones that may benefit our sex drive certainly affect our cancers (love those aromatase inhibitors), in turn affecting our bodies and affecting our libido. The research I’ve read says that about 70% of women who have had breast cancer treatments have some sort of sexual dysfunction, as opposed to 40% of women without breast cancer. Is there sex after cancer? Once intercourse was exciting, exhilarating, yet now I have a “sexual disorder/problem.” And I didn’t bring this upon myself – ahhh cancer, the gift that keeps on giving!

I have an incredibly loving patient husband who has been an amazing caregiver. And he’s waiting for me to give him the “come-here” eye. Most of the time he’s patient, sometimes he’s frustrated. I try to explain to him that my lack of sex drive is complicated. It’s not about him – really, it’s about me – emotionally and physically. But I’m tired of this entire process being about me!

I’m just beginning to be able to look at my body in the mirror and be OK with my reflection. Lopsided breasts, incisions, discolored skin, weight gain, hair loss, gray circles under my eyes – I’m alive, but there certainly have been sacrifices. Sexuality and femininity are both terms I’m having to redefine – and this has had an impact on our intimacy. (more…)


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