Choosing Yoga After Cancer

Started by Tonia, March 10, 2015
37 replies for this topic
Tonia

Member
558 Posts
Posted on
March 10, 2015
My name is Jean, and I’m a late-stage colorectal cancer survivor. Thirteen years ago this month, Colon Cancer Awareness Month, I was diagnosed with colon cancer. I hadn’t been well in over a year, but no one suspected colon cancer at age 46.

Early March 2003, I was shopping in a big chain store when over the speaker came a Public Service Announcement by Katie Couric. Katie probably saved my life that day. She talked about the symptoms of colorectal cancer. I had every single symptom. I had gained and lost weight (check). I had become depressed and fatigued (check). I had night sweats, back pain, leg pain, gastric upset, reflux, alternating diarrhea and constipation; and finally there was blood in my stool(check, check, check).

On Tax Day,  April 15, 2003, I had 12 inches of sigmoid bowel removed. Followed up by 26 weekly rounds of 5FU and leucovorin. Fortunately, I sought out a fellow survivor and found my friend and mentor Suzanne Lindley.

Suzanne helped me to keep my spirits up throughout treatment. The most shocking thing to me was that after treatment was done, I felt more physically, mentally and spiritually frail then I had during treatment.

My long-term career as a special education teacher came to an end. I was getting close to 50 and my life seemed derailed. If I were only going to live for a year or more, what would I do with myself?

I had been physically active before cancer, but after cancer I couldn’t figure out how to start regaining strength. I went to a regular stretch classes and hurt myself badly, I had no muscle resistance. I tried lifting weights but I had no muscle mass. I was embarrassed to enter a yoga class because I couldn’t even keep up for five minutes. So, I began working out at home with the first five minutes of yoga tape.

I realized I couldn’t be the only person so devastated by the effects and aftermath of cancer treatment. I decided to become a yoga teacher to help other patients and survivors.

Today I am fortunate to be able to teach yoga to cancer patients and survivors. I also lecture at cancer conferences about the benefits of yoga. My goal is to provide excellent resources on social media for cancer patients, their families and cancer survivors. I offer hours of free yoga and meditation for patients and survivors.

My focus is on living well in this moment. It’s a challenge for cancer patients, and their families and loved ones. I will share the tools that I have used myself and find helpful. Please share back with me. Let’s live our hope by being well in this day.

Cancer was a teacher to me. I learned that I needed help. I could not have gotten through cancer without the help of many people. I needed strength and encouragement from others. I needed skilled physicians and compassionate healthcare workers. I depended on massage meditation and diaphragmatic breathing. As soon as I was able I started to get back to other cancer patients through many nonprofits.

Now, writing for CURE allows me another way to reach out and offer what I have learned. Please write to me with your questions about yoga, meditation and healing practices. I am honored to serve you in any way I can. Let’s have a dialogue. Please share your wisdom with this amazing community of CURE advocates, and please like and share this post.

Blessings,
Jean
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
March 10, 2015
My name is Jean, and I’m a late-stage colorectal cancer survivor. Thirteen years ago this month, Colon Cancer Awareness Month, I was diagnosed with colon cancer. I hadn’t been well in over a year, but no one suspected colon cancer at age 46.

Early March 2003, I was shopping in a big chain store when over the speaker came a Public Service Announcement by Katie Couric. Katie probably saved my life that day. She talked about the symptoms of colorectal cancer. I had every single symptom. I had gained and lost weight (check). I had become depressed and fatigued (check). I had night sweats, back pain, leg pain, gastric upset, reflux, alternating diarrhea and constipation; and finally there was blood in my stool(check, check, check).

On Tax Day,  April 15, 2003, I had 12 inches of sigmoid bowel removed. Followed up by 26 weekly rounds of 5FU and leucovorin. Fortunately, I sought out a fellow survivor and found my friend and mentor Suzanne Lindley.

Suzanne helped me to keep my spirits up throughout treatment. The most shocking thing to me was that after treatment was done, I felt more physically, mentally and spiritually frail then I had during treatment.

My long-term career as a special education teacher came to an end. I was getting close to 50 and my life seemed derailed. If I were only going to live for a year or more, what would I do with myself?

I had been physically active before cancer, but after cancer I couldn’t figure out how to start regaining strength. I went to a regular stretch classes and hurt myself badly, I had no muscle resistance. I tried lifting weights but I had no muscle mass. I was embarrassed to enter a yoga class because I couldn’t even keep up for five minutes. So, I began working out at home with the first five minutes of yoga tape.

I realized I couldn’t be the only person so devastated by the effects and aftermath of cancer treatment. I decided to become a yoga teacher to help other patients and survivors.

Today I am fortunate to be able to teach yoga to cancer patients and survivors. I also lecture at cancer conferences about the benefits of yoga. My goal is to provide excellent resources on social media for cancer patients, their families and cancer survivors. I offer hours of free yoga and meditation for patients and survivors.

My focus is on living well in this moment. It’s a challenge for cancer patients, and their families and loved ones. I will share the tools that I have used myself and find helpful. Please share back with me. Let’s live our hope by being well in this day.

Cancer was a teacher to me. I learned that I needed help. I could not have gotten through cancer without the help of many people. I needed strength and encouragement from others. I needed skilled physicians and compassionate healthcare workers. I depended on massage meditation and diaphragmatic breathing. As soon as I was able I started to get back to other cancer patients through many nonprofits.

Now, writing for CURE allows me another way to reach out and offer what I have learned. Please write to me with your questions about yoga, meditation and healing practices. I am honored to serve you in any way I can. Let’s have a dialogue. Please share your wisdom with this amazing community of CURE advocates, and please like and share this post.

Blessings,
Jean
Report
Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
March 10, 2015
Wonderful blog! I'm sure many will benefit by reading your experience. Inspiring to know that our lives can not only continue post-cancer treatment, but actually be enriched in unexpected ways.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
March 11, 2015
Robin! As you are also a survivor and took training to work with cancer patients, you inspire me with your practice and commitment to helping others!
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
March 11, 2015
I am a survivor of a double mastectomy for beast cancer. I relate to how you describe the post treatment state of mind. Thank you for the idea. I will pursue finding options for yoga in my home town. It sounds like a great idea to start keeping in shape.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
March 11, 2015
I had my first experience with ovarian cancer in September2005 and then in October of 2006 I, for whatever reason, decided to do Yoga. Luckily, I got into a class that was called "Easy Moves" and loved it. Never cared to do exercising of any kind prior to this. I did Yoga until I was found to have HER2 Breast Cancer in April 2010 and with reconstruction had to give up my Yoga for a year; thereafter started Yoga again and then had my first recurrence of ovarian cancer of ovarian cancer in December 2011. I still do Yoga this day and so far am cancer free and believe if it was not for Yoga and now even Pilates, I would not been able to survive. I would tell anyone that they should do Yoga as soon as they are able. I do walk three days a week.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
March 11, 2015
Dear Gretchen, Do consider starting with a restorative class or a private lesson. This way, a studio owner can help you find the right level of class. In the meantime, you can find my free audio classes at Soundcloud.com, under Yoga Being. Thank you for reaching back to me!
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
March 11, 2015
Dear Sharon, I too find yoga to be my 'exercise' of choice. And now there are many Yoga for Cancer Survivors classes in major hospitals. I would love for you to listen to my YCS audio tape and give me feedback. It is free and downloadable. You can go to YogaBeing.net and listen to the class. What kind of yoga did you practice in the beginning? And, yes, pilates can build core strength! I'm so glad you wrote back to me and shared your wisdom with others. Yoga can appear to be difficult, but specialized yoga for cancer survivors should have plenty of alternatives, props and a skilled teacher!
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
March 11, 2015
As a male breast cancer survivor (20 months) Stage 2 and a Radical Mastectomy, I signed up for a beginners yoga class at Gilda's Club and I can not say enough good things about yoga. It helped with my breathing, meditation, relaxation, and flexibility. The instructor works with all of us in the class, some members are still receiving chemo, and she shows us alternative moves to help us, I have recently purchased a book on yoga that fits my needs so that I can practice at home.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
March 11, 2015
Hello Gary! Oh! How fortunate to have Guilda's house by you to practice yoga with an experienced teacher! The benefits of a gentle but deep practice include: sleeping better, breathing fully and in a relaxed manner, social support, balance, mental focus! The list goes on and on! I'm so glad you shared with us! What is your favorite pose?
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
March 11, 2015
Me too Jean! I am 11 years out from Ovarian cancer this month and last year I completed yoga teacher training. Now I teach folks with cancer, hip replacements, and general fears of yoga class! Yoga helped me gain back my range of motion, general balance and sense of physical well being! Namaste;)
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