Choosing Yoga After Cancer

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.

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