“If I Can Make a Difference In ONE Person’s Life, Then I Know This Journey Was All Worth It”

imageToday we introduce Jessica, LBBC friend and guest blogger, who is sharing her breast cancer journey and how she came to discover LBBC’s Yoga on the Steps: Denver.

My journey started at the early age of 40 in late September of 2013 when I was sitting in what I call, ironically, my “happy place”. My happy place is a small chair in my bedroom next to  a large window where I look out at the mountains, decompress and think of my day, my family, what I am doing the next day or maybe what I am making for dinner. I remember standing up to go downstairs and feeling that something felt strange and cold. I checked under my shirt and saw that I had a small amount of discharge from one breast that had stained my shirt, and when I say small, I mean tiny – it was hardly visible. I changed my shirt and didn’t think twice about it and went on with my day which was having lunch with one of my best friends. We usually talk about our kids, school or maybe something our husbands did wrong the night before. That day, however, was different, for some reason we discussed what its like to get older, our aches and our pains. We laughed, and I remember the words I said to her exactly “at least you don’t have liquid coming out of your breast! A few more laughs and as always, I left, picked up my kiddos from school and went on with my daily routine.

 

A few hours later, I was sitting at home and got a call from this same friend. “Jess”, she said “I just talked to my Mom and I mentioned our discussion to her, the one where you told me about “liquid and breasts, her words to me were “My mom thinks you need to get it checked out, my Mom is a mammographer and she thinks it’s no joke”. Honestly, that is when my life changed, in an ironic twist of fate, a comment I made as a joke, saved my life.

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I loved everything about Yoga on the Steps: Kansas City

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Wendy Hazlett, LBBC friend and long-term Silpada Field Development Director of the Northeast Region shares her breast cancer story and why she’s looking forward to LBBC’s Yoga on the Steps: Kansas City for the 2nd year in a row! 

 

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2011.  It was through a routine mammogram and I still thank God each day for the expertise of my radiologist!  I never thought “why me?”, but instead jumped right in to “beat this”.  We had been thoughtfully watching a lump on my left breast throughout the years, so when the mammogram came back saying that I had cancer in my right breast and my surgeon recommended double mastectomies, I followed the recommendation and had a successful surgery in August 2011.

 

I had my first reconstruction surgery that December – which my body rejected.  This caused me to undergo 3 additional surgeries before being able to close this chapter in my life in December 2012.

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Yoga for Cancer Recovery

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.

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

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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.

Yoga on the Steps: Participant Spotlight

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.

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YOGA ON THE STEPS: WASHINGTON, DC REGISTRATION NOW OPEN

 

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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.