Summer is flying by and I hope that you all are enjoying the warmer weather, longer days, and hopefully some relaxing time with family and friends.
On June 13th I had the honor of speaking at Yoga for Hope. This event is a fundraiser held at Petco Park in downtown San Diego and the monies raised go to fund the holistic care programs offered at the City of Hope cancer hospital in Duarte, California. City of Hope has many programs offered free to their patients and their families during their cancer treatments like yoga, art, meditation, and many more. This year was my second year involved in the fundraiser and my first as a cancer patient myself.
During my speech I talked about what a difference a year can make. The Yama called Aparigraha kept coming up for me while I was preparing my speech for Yoga for Hope. Aparigraha can be translated to mean non-attachment or non-grasping and I had to practice this Yama to let go of comparing last year to this year. I am not the same person this year as I was last year. I have to practice daily letting go of the old me and trying to be grateful for the life I have now; even with cancer. Aparigraha is letting go of my expectations of how life “should” be and to find happiness and contentment with the way my life is…just as it is.
One of the ways that I have practiced acceptance of my new life is to try to be of service to others and speaking at Yoga for Hope gave me an amazing opportunity to advocate for awareness of ovarian cancer. I was able to speak in front of over 800 people and share the symptoms of ovarian cancer which could possibly save a life. Yet even with this speech I had to practice Aparigraha; and let go of my fears about whether my speech was “good enough” and if people took in what I was saying. I knew I had an important opportunity to share ovarian cancer awareness that day-and I did share with my whole heart-then I let go of what might come of it.
I challenge you, dear readers, to try the practice of Aparigraha in your life. We all become attached to things, people, feelings, you name it…but the one thing we can truly count on in life is change. Free yourself from attachment. Love fully, live life fully, and let go of the results and just enjoy the ride.
When cancer enters the life of yourself or a loved one - everything changes. I hope this blog might serve to help someone else on their journey. Feel free to comment or submit any questions you may have about cancer treatments, coping strategies, the services offered by Be Well, and/or anything else that might come up to the Be Well contact page. Please know that you are not alone.
With love, light, and peace,
Read traycie's inspiring speech from yoga for hope
A year ago I attended this event right where you are sitting now—as a yogi. Today, one year later, I’m standing in front of you as a cancer patient currently undergoing chemotherapy. What a difference a year can make.
Just three months after this event last summer, I was diagnosed with stage four ovarian Cancer after experiencing some trouble breathing on my right side. The morning of my diagnoses and admission to the hospital I had taught a yoga class. I thought I was fine. I thought I had pulled a muscle. Not cancer! In the next few hours I would learn that I had begun the fight of my life!
I could barely process what was happening to me and my family.
How could I, a healthy and happy yoga teacher, wife, and mother of four, have advanced ovarian cancer at age 43? This could not be happening to me.
But it did happen to me.
It is happening to me.
I underwent a very intense abdominal surgery called “debulking”. During my seventeen day stay at the hospital, friends and family were at my bedside every single day; supporting me through the pain. The love and devastation on my children’s faces, on my husband’s face, was almost more than I could bear, yet their love strengthened me to fight this disease with everything I have.
Do you know? They call ovarian cancer the silent killer. The symptoms are: bloating, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, the need to urinate often and urgently, pelvic or abdominal pain, indigestion, back pain, constipation, fatigue, and possible pain during sex. Who hasn’t experienced any of those? Women tend to explain these away as digestive issues or menopausal problems. Right now there are no definitive diagnostic tests for ovarian cancer and your yearly PAP smear does not test for ovarian cancer.
The most important advice I can give today is: Don’t make excuses for any odd new symptom. No matter how trivial it may seem. No matter how healthy you are.
Awareness is what is going to help save lives. Right now you can only rely on knowing the symptoms and being your own best advocate. My goal is to increase awareness. My hope is that YOU will pass on this information.
And there’s City of Hope and the work they do. I can find hope there, too. From my trip to City of Hope I learned that they share all of their amazing new research and developments with everyone in the medical community. I am always excited to hear about the up and coming breakthroughs for cancer patients that are flooding out of City of Hope!
Throughout my cancer treatments I have continued to practice yoga as often as possible. Daily when I can. My yoga mat is my Sanctuary. Swami Vivekananda said “We are what our thoughts have made us” and I know how important positive thinking is to my everyday well-being. When negative thoughts creep in I make time to sit with myself and take deep breaths. I make a list in my head of what I am grateful for and this truly helps.
On my bathroom mirror at home I taped up the quote: You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have and since being diagnosed with ovarian cancer I have heard a lot of people say they don’t know how I am doing so well; that they could never be as strong as me.
Yet we all have struggles in life. I respond to those who tell me how strong I am by asking them to really take a good look at their loved ones. I see my amazing husband of 20 years, I look at my four beautiful children, my loving friends and family. I tell them, you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. If you were me, you would be kicking cancer’s ass too! For me, There is no other choice.
Thank you to City of Hope for inviting me to speak today. Thank you to my awesome family, friends, and yoga community at Yoga Branch who tirelessly support me. You will never know the extent of help you provide as I battle cancer. An especially, huge thank-you to all attending this weekend in support of the holistic therapy programs that are offered to patients as a vital part of their treatment in their fight for their lives. The light in me honors and loves the shining loving light in each and every one of you. Namaste.