The Whole You: Lessons Learned After Moving from Nurse to Patient

Best-selling author Hollye Jacobs, RN, MS, MSW, blogs about three lessons she learned after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Join us for our Annual Fall Conference, part of Wellness Weekend in Denver, CO this September 18-20 to meet Ms. Jacobs, hear her speak and get a signed book!

As a healthy, happy, vegan-eating, marathon-running, 39-year-old young mother with absolutely no family history of breast cancer, being diagnosed with the disease in 2010 literally shattered my world. As a health care professional, I very quickly moved from the side of the hospital bed into the hospital bed.  This transition from nurse to patient taught me profound life lessons.

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Lesson #1: Honor the feelings and let them out.

Prior to my experience with breast cancer, I was a grin-and-bear it kind of girl who was reluctant to share any feeling other than joy. However, once ‘Roid Rage (the intense feelings of anger brought on by pre-chemotherapy steroids) and Chemo-Sobby (tears at the drop of a hat brought on by the chemotherapy flowing through my veins), and the Freight Train of Fatigue (courtesy of the rads of radiation beamed into my body) entered my life, I had no choice but to let all of my feelings out. I was too exhausted to muster the energy to make them look “pretty.” And you know what? Expressing feelings, all feelings, happens to feel good. Really good. Though I no longer have ‘Roid Rage, Chemo-Sobby or the Freight Train of Fatigue (thank goodness!), I continue to openly express my feelings. And it still feels good! No, actually, it feels great! Continue reading

The Whole You: Is it Hot in Here?

Getting good breast cancer care means caring for yourself as a whole person—understanding how cancer impacts you physically, emotionally and spiritually. This is why we’re hosting Wellness Weekend, a three-day event that combines our annual fall conference, Breast Cancer Today: Individual Treatments, Shared Experiences, and Yoga on the Steps: Denver. In anticipation of the Denver, Colorado weekend, Randi Rentz kicks off our blogging series, The Whole You, with a post about a side effect that impacts a number women of who undergo hormonal therapy for hormone-positive breast cancer – menopause.

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Ah, summertime. Long, sunny days. Outdoor cookouts. Lounging by the pool.

Say what??? Make that: Long, sweaty days. Internal cook-offs. Lunging for the pool.

Summer can be difficult if you’re in the midst of perimenopause or menopause. Geez! I first experienced menopausal experiences while receiving chemo. It got worse once I went on  tamoxifen. I also had to have a hysterectomy, which totally threw me for a loop. That procedure, of course, put me in permanent SCREAMING and KICKING menopause.

For those of you who have experienced menopause – naturally occurring or induced by cancer treatment – you know exactly what I mean when I say that hot flashes absolutely STINK!! Not only do they rock your world in a moment’s notice with absolutely no warning, but they (at least mine) are all consuming and utterly UNCOMFORTABLE! Well, let me be more specific: the truth of the matter is that my mind is a wasteland of emptiness during which I am at a complete and total loss of words when a hot flash comes on. They so overwhelm me.

Irritability, mood swings, sudden burst of crying. They’re all part of this new phase in my life. I am now menopause symptomatic (a.k.a. Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Sleepy, Bloated, Forgetful and Psycho).

The number one symptom for me: hot flashes, cold flashes and night sweats. Now, these aren’t the sweats of relaxation you’d feel in a sauna, or the rewarding ones indicating you’ve just exercised This is more like: OMG, I’m on F%$#ing fire.  Call 9-1-1….Nooow! Continue reading

A Refreshing, Calm Morning with a Community of Support

Marcia Pinkstaff blogs about her experience with breast cancer, Yoga on the Steps and the importance of community.

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Almost 3 years ago, my life changed forever when I heard those awful words, “You have stage III invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer.” Breast cancer? Stage III? How is that even possible? Those are the immediate thoughts that raced through my mind. Will I survive? What will life be like after?

I’m excited to tell you that in addition to advances in research and care, which have made early-stage breast cancer, mostly curable, there are also many exceptional programs to help you get your life back after diagnosis. Living Beyond Breast Cancer offers many of these programs including webinars, seminars, a conference, and my personal favorite Yoga on the Steps. LBBC has an amazing team that wants to help you navigate life after diagnosis.

Many organizations raise money for treatments and to deal with the health aspect, but there are so many additional challenges that a survivor must face including financial and mental health issues. The stress of having cancer and what’s to come can overtake you if you let it. LBBC is here to help you face these outlying issues and treat the whole person, mind and body.

I attended my first Yoga on the Steps in Denver, about a year after my diagnosis. At that time, I had finished chemo, a double mastectomy and radiation. I also had the opportunity to share my story, which can also be therapeutic, or at least it was for me. At that point, I still looked like a survivor and didn’t feel like myself, but participating in an event with such a wonderful group of people as the sun comes up is not only refreshing and calming, but a fun way to start your day.

I hope that you will join us for Yoga on the Steps in Kansas City and/or Denver. I would love to meet you and hear your story. And if you’re new to yoga or LBBC, I’d love for you to join us for this inspiring outdoor event. Yoga is a great way to not just help you physically deal with some of the new obstacles through stretching and even just getting some exercise, but also helps to relax you…something that is just as important.

Someone asked me the other day if cancer defines me. I thought it was an odd question. I responded “no.” Cancer doesn’t define me. It’s a part of who I am now and has changed me, but I get to decide what defines me. Cancer is just one of the many things that have shaped my life. You never know if and when you might here those words, “you have cancer”, and I hope you don’t. If you ever do, you will be appreciative of organizations like LBBC and the sense of community that they bring.

Cancer is a lonely disease. Surrounding yourself with others who have been there gives you something that you can’t get from your friends and family who haven’t been there. No matter how much someone loves you and thinks they know what you’re going through, they cannot possibly understand. I love all of those who tried, but I know even with family members who had cancer, I never fully comprehended what the journey was like until I lived it. Please join me in supporting this wonderful organization that gives so much back to the community.

Marcia Pinkstaff is an independent representative and star leader at Silpada Designs Jewelry and a stage III breast cancer survivor.

“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

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UPDATED MARCH 2, 2015

Claire Petretti Marti, RYT 500, E-RYT 200, blogs about why yoga was important to her before and after her breast cancer diagnosis and why she volunteers to speak with others about her experience. Live in the Denver, Colorado area? Attend our community meeting on March 18 to understand how exercise like yoga can benefit you.

 

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.