This entry was written by Sandi Dennis of Washington, DC. Sandra is very excited that LBBC has selected Washington, DC to be the first city of host Yoga on the Steps for its National Expansion Initiative:
LBBC’s Yoga On The Steps® event has long been of interest to me: I grew up in Philadelphia, took art lessons at the Philadelphia Art Museum in my childhood, I’m an avid yogi, and I have worked with LBBC on policy issues in my practice as a healthcare lawyer. I had thought it would be a powerful event to participate in, but never got around to it. Well, this year, Yoga on the Steps is truly speaking to me, as it is coming to Washington, DC where I live, work, and play. And, oh yeah, last year I had breast cancer. So, actually, the event is screaming to me.
I first felt the marble-like mass above my right breast late one night in April 2010 while trying to print out my boarding pass for my early morning flight to Mexico for a week of yoga and hiking. I proceeded to print the boarding pass and googled an article that said “a moveable, marble-like mass” was likely benign.
Back at home the following week, I had a positive diagnosis for breast cancer, the day after my 55th birthday. It seemed particularly ironic that day as I was still glowing and feeling strong and zen-like, as healthy and in shape as I had ever felt. My yoga-calm quickly began to fade.
As many of you know, treatment can be devastating to one’s body and soul. For me, it was far more tolerable than I feared. I owe much of that to two things: 1) yoga and 2) supportive family, friends, and colleagues who rallied around me—and were comfortable doing so. I was very open about my diagnosis and because of that , I believe, everyone close to me was able to give me the genuine support I needed.
Yoga helped me physically and mentally. The teachings helped me accept myself as a cancer patient. Like it or not, that’s what life handed me last year and that’s what I had to deal with. On a shallower level, the studio was the one place outside of my house where I’d go wig-free—a necessity, as I practice at Down Dog Yoga in DC (a studio heated to 95ish degrees). Yes, I eagerly subject my body to that, but not my $1800 wig!
Other yogis got used to seeing me. There were many young women in the classes and hopefully they could see the ability of someone in active chemo treatment who regularly practices yoga. This was my personal way to continue living life during treatment.
At my office my cancer was headline news. One of my colleagues offered to shave his head as a way to show his support. Our two other lawyer colleagues joined in the head shaving at the office—what a show of support and solidarity for me.
How could I be distraught over my own circumstances when my colleagues were making such a sacrifice and public showing of support? Granted, at least one of them was already follicularly-challenged, but the other two had full heads of hair. I had never imagined that anyone would take an action so bold to support a colleague. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world!
Not everyone chooses to make their treatment so public and it is obviously a personal choice. There is no right or wrong decision. For me, it was really helpful. Not only did I have the support and cheerleading of many of my colleagues, I didn't have to wonder if people knew. They didn't have to wonder if I knew they knew--it was just a fact. It also made it easier to check in without needing to say much. Questions like: How are your treatments going? were one good way to check in or How are you? took on a whole new meaning in this light.
I’ve now been cancer-free for over a year (from diagnosis) and I’m in that grey area where I don’t have cancer, but I’m still a cancer patient; I’m not really sick, but still in recovery. I’m ready to move on but I still feel very connected to my breast cancer experience. What do I do with that status? Well, for now, I'm throwing a whole lot of energy into LBBC’s Yoga on the Steps.
I registered last week and was lucky to get a very generous donation (in addition to my own) within minutes of registering. I set my initial target at $1000 and surpassed it in less than two days! This motivated me to raise it to $2000, which I have also surpassed - I think I'm going for $2500 now. There's no magic in getting donations! I suggest sending an email to everyone you could think of. Tell them how much this event means to you, and how how this positive energy can help you and/or others who are healing. I do think that since I was so open about my breast cancer, people were more inspired to donate. Yoga on the Steps is helping me re-connect with what matters and the people who care. This event is the perfect way to stay in touch, stay healthy, and remember.
Make a donation to Yoga on the Steps today! Even if you don't live in the Washington, DC area, you can set up a virtual team and fundraise from wherever you are. Thank you in advance for your hardworking fundraising efforts. Proceeds from this event go directly toward education and support programs for women and families affected by breast cancer.