Posts Tagged ‘Living Beyond Breast Cancer’

My Metastatic Breast Cancer Story

May 23, 2014

CarynPhotoLBBC guest blogger and regular volunteer, Caryn Kaplan was recently featured on CBS Talk Philly to discuss her journey with metastatic breast cancer, along with another LBBC friend and woman living with metastatic disease, Jewel. Here Caryn shares her experience doing the segment and why it was important to her to not only share her personal story but share about which has helped her and continues to help her throughout her day to day life by providing information and tools about metastatic breast cancer…

Tuesday had finally arrived!!!  I had waited anxiously for this day….

It all started from an email from Kevin Gianotto, LBBC’s associate director of marketing corporate partnerships.  He had asked if I would be interested in being interviewed on CBS Talk Philly with Pat Ciarrocchi.  The topic was about living with metastatic breast cancer and also about which is an online resource center developed by AstraZeneca with support and input from LBBC and Metastatic Breast Cancer Network (MBCN) which provides tools and information for women living with metastatic disease. I was really excited to discuss this site because it has really helped me through my journey and I was so excited about the opportunity, having been volunteering with LBBC for several years, for yet another chance to get my message out there: that there is life after a metastistic breast cancer diagnosis.  A life that is full and active, one to be lived and enjoyed.

I couldn’t wait!!! (more…)

Yoga for Cancer Recovery

May 14, 2014

Petretti Marti_Claire_2014Claire Petretti Marti, RYT 500, E-RYT 200, is one of our speakers for our upcoming community meeting in Denver, Colo., on healthy living practices after breast cancer on May 19th at 6 pm. Today she sharing with us why yoga was important to her before and after her breast cancer diagnosis and why she volunteers to speak with others about her experience. 

As a yoga teacher, I’d always known of the incredible benefits of yoga for the body, mind, and spirit. Until I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer, however, I had no idea how much yoga would help me weather the toughest time of my life. I credit teaching and practicing yoga as vital components in my journey back to radiant health.


In January 2010, I truly felt that I was living my dream. I had exited corporate America the year prior and was happily balancing teaching yoga full-time with a blossoming writing career. I was in a relationship with the man of my dreams, living close to the ocean. To put it simply, I was happy. Out of the blue, I found a lump in my breast. I was shocked and devastated, especially because I had a clear mammogram three months earlier. At 43, I was healthy, fit,  and felt invincible.


Diagnosed at 25: A Young Survivor’s Story

May 13, 2014


Living Beyond Breast Cancer and FemmePharma have partnered for our signature education and fundraising event Yoga on the Steps: Philadelphia! If you’re in the Philadelphia area on May 18th, register here to join LBBC, FemmePharma and various other exhibitors during our healthy living expo after the hour long yoga class supporting individuals with breast cancer! Today we learn about Katy Wagnon’s journey with breast cancer at the age of 25 and why a FemmePharma and LBBC partnership just makes sense…

Think about life in your 20s for a minute. It’s a decade of learning, growing, falling down and getting back up – often more than once. It’s a hopeful, exciting time when you’re just getting the hang of this crazy thing we call adulthood.


Katy Wagnon was a typical 25-year-old. At the time, she was living in Arizona with her boyfriend of four years. She had a steady job and was perfectly content with the life she’d created for herself.


When Katy discovered a lump on her breast in the shower, she initially brushed it off. Like any good procrastinator, she decided to wait it out to see if it went away on its own. Katy had a co-worker around her age who had been diagnosed with breast cancer six months earlier – but there was no way that’s what this was!


Still, Katy kept this thought in the back of her head. When the lump didn’t go away, she made a doctor’s appointment to have it checked out. A mammogram and a few biopsies later, Katy was diagnosed with an early stage of breast cancer.


The diagnosis on its own was a punch in the gut – adapting to life with cancer was another story altogether.


“All of my friends were in their 20s and couldn’t understand what I was going through,”Katy said. “They were going out to bars, and I was at home with my boyfriend, always in-between chemo and surgery.”


My Best Self Is Yet To Come

May 8, 2014

photo-5Long-time LBBC guest blogger Randi Rentz is back and today she’s discussing her journey with body image after her breast cancer diagnosis. 

Women are subjected to thousands of messages about having the “perfect” body. Believe me, it’s not easy walking around in a female body, no matter your size, color, height or weight. It’s hard enough trying to look your best, but when you’re diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s even tougher.

It took me a very long time to realize my femininity doesn’t reside in any one place; it is me, the whole me-ness of me, that can’t be sliced off in pieces. Although I had a lumpectomy, yes, I do know something about having random female body parts surgically removed. Many readers may not know that I had a full hysterectomy a few years ago. Can you believe five people asked me if I felt less like a woman afterward?! Geez! Actually, I felt less like talking to them, but no, I didn’t feel less like a woman.  I should have said, “If you can’t deal with it, then you can’t come to my next birthday party!” Sorry, I digress.

What people don’t realize is not just that breast cancer has left a permanent scar (whether you have reconstruction or not), but that there is no navigation system for helping to get you through the tunnel of angst, isolation and rage, and out to acceptance. There. I said it. Personally, I had feelings of isolation squeezing me into its confines after my diagnosis of DCIS followed by a hysterectomy.

The recording in my head read like this: “Who would want to date a bald chick with a huge divot in her left breast? Oh, and by the way, let’s add that all my reproductive parts are gone, too. Is there anybody out there who would want me?”

Good gracious, was it THAT bad? I’m afraid so. Really.  (more…)

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


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 and We welcome your inquiries at and


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:

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.


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…)


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