Monday, March 1, 2010

Remember to Breathe

This post was written by Jeanne Egan, a breast cancer survivor & Yoga Unites for LBBC participant:

Prior to having breast cancer two and a half years ago, my day usually began with two Oreo cookies for breakfast accompanied by a couple big cups of coffee. I was usually sleep deprived, so a little sugar and caffeine in the morning seemed to be just the perfect things to get me going.

“Mommy, can I have a cookie for breakfast too?” My children would ask, not understanding why they couldn’t partake in this decadent morning delight. “When you're a grown up you can have whatever you like for breakfast,” I would flippantly respond. Looking back, I realize that my cavalier attitude towards my health was foolish.

“Diagnosis cancer” forced me to rethink a lot of things. First was my diet and second was my exercise regime. I rarely ate fruit and never took a vitamin supplement. I have always liked vegetables but I certainly wasn’t getting enough of them. I had been a runner for many years, but in the two years prior to my illness my running was sporadic. Oddly enough, I had dropped five pounds.

After finishing my chemotherapy and gaining weight, I decided I need a more holistic approach to my health. I cut out red meat, began to take flaxseed oil and vitamins, and changed to a diet of mostly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. As far as my fitness regime, I continued to run but I bought a yoga DVD at the grocery store and began to learn Anusara yoga on my family room floor.

The changes in my body were almost immediate. Because there is so much focus on breathing, I achieved a deep relaxation while strengthening and stretching my entire body. I felt longer and more flexible than I used to. My core became stronger and my balance improved.

I finally got up the nerve to attend class at a yoga studio. Now, I enjoy Vinyasa classes with advanced practitioners and RePose Yoga with other cancer survivors. Each session brings me something different. As I participate in a moving meditation, I begin to know each and every part of my body just a little bit better, thus experiencing the healing effects of this ancient practice. Each time I emerge from my yoga class I am reminded of the importance of nurturing my body and my mind.

I'm looking forward to the Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer event and the opportunity to share this experience with family, friends and other breast cancer survivors on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. Yoga can be a valuable part of a healthy lifestyle as a breast cancer survivor. It helps bridge the gap between the mind and body. It teaches us about the divinity in each and every one of us. Most importantly, it reminds us that we all have a unique gift to give to the universe. All we need to do is to remember to breathe.

Check out Jeanne's blog.

Even if you’ve never tried yoga before, this event is a great way to support women affected by breast cancer while focusing on healthy living. It’s a powerful experience to see hundreds of members of the community practicing yoga with the city skyline as a backdrop. If you don’t live in Philly, don’t worry! You can still help us raise $200,000 for the nearly 200,000 women that will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Why not form a fundraising team with family, friends or co-workers? There are plenty of ways to fundraise and our cool incentives provide great motivation. Check out the Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer website for more information.

1 comment:

  1. In a recent interview I was asked what advice I had for someone just receiving a cancer diagnosis. I said, "breathe, breathe again, and keep breathing." Best advice I can give - not sure if the interviewer got it, though.