“Cancer Changed Me, But For The Better”


A few weeks ago, I attended Yoga For Hope at Petco Park in San Diego.  The event raises awareness about the benefits of yoga practice for cancer patients and survivors and raises  funds for City of Hope.

I was excited to participate because it Incorporated two of my favorite things- spreading awareness for cancer treatments and yoga!

There were several moments that were truly inspiring and made me think quite a bit about my journey.

There was a young adult survivor who discussed her story and how it led her to a career in nursing. One statement she made, and is quoted in the title of this post, is “Cancer changed me, but for the better.“, is something I have heard many survivors say and I’ve often said myself. It’s hard to understand sometimes, but this journey through cancer and survivorship makes many of us who we are today. I would not be as strong or resilient without cancer. I would not have a wonderful group of friends and family around me either.

But, the MOST inspiring moment of all involved bells. When we arrived, they handed out bells to everyone. As the event began they asked each person to ring their bell when they were able to answer yes. And so the questions began:

  • If you are currently battling cancer, please ring your bell- We heard a few soft bells at this point and I immediately knew I was in the right place for this event.
  • If you have been in remission for 6 months- More bells
  • If you have been in remission for 6 months to 1 year- Even more bells
  • If you have been a survivor for 1 year to 5 years- Even more!
  • If you are a survivor of more than 5 years- Even more (and my turn)!
  • And then, if you have been a caregiver or friend or family member of a patient or survivor- More bells! And an overwhelming wave of hundreds of people in one place for the same reason.

The sound of all of these bells ringing for people touched by cancer was an enormous wave. It gave me chills and was a wonderful moment!

And today, I write this blog, 12 years cancer free, and grateful for events like Yoga for Hope and the people who have helped me reach this milestone.

Your Ego is Not Your Amigo and Other Words of Wisdom from Yoga

Yoga has always been one of those things that I’ve known was good for me but I couldn’t ever (okay, wouldn’t ever) make time for it.

I had a few issues with yoga:

  • It didn’t feel like a rigorous enough work out for me
  • I couldn’t shut my brain off enough to even focus on my breath
  • As a long time runner, I didn’t think I was flexible enough



A few months ago, I went to a spin class and the next morning I woke up with major pain in my lower back. It was a feeling I had never experienced and I did not enjoy it. Mainly, it was because I knew my body was telling me something. That perhaps sitting all day at work with little movement and then completing a rigorous few hours of running, spinning, and strength combinations was not good for me.

While I was out of commission with my back injury, I realized that I truly was not taking enough time to recover and stretch. I promised myself that I would  start going to yoga once a week. This seemed like an achievable goal.

I started going to Flow Yoga sessions about a month or so ago and I’ve noticed a big difference. The difference isn’t with my body though. I am not one to shy away from the anxiety I developed after having cancer and still face sometimes. Doing yoga once a week and finding calmness via my breath or the flowing movements or simply holding one position has truly helped me. I leave each class thinking about the commitment I made in the studio and how it can help me in my daily life. I find that I’m calmer (in a good way!).

A recent instructor used the theme, “Your Ego is Not Your Amigo” throughout a class. She reminded us that every pose in the class or every action during your day, does not need to perfect. We focus so much on what things “supposed to” look or feel like or what we are “supposed to” be like that we forgot to focus on what feels right for each of us in our individual ways. She reminded us that differences are a positive.

This really resonated with me in two ways. My differences (cancer survivor/amputee) have truly made me the person I am and I am grateful for that. Differences are wonderful! Differences make teams great. A diverse team can teach each other in many ways.

Yoga really teaches you to know yourself and be present which are important traits. So while I am a newbie to yoga, I’m loving it and seeing positive changes from it!


Challenging Myself Beyond Endurance Sports

Over the past year, I’ve taken a big step back from running. I wasn’t really enjoying it like I once had and to be quite honest, my body wasn’t tolerating 7, 8, and 9 mile runs anymore. But, of course, I couldn’t sit around and do nothing.

After Christmas, I spent a few days in Utah where I snowboarded for the first time since college. It was fun (if you think falling is fun) and challenging for me. Having grown up skiing and living in Colorado, it reminded me how much I love the snow and the feeling of being on the chairlift and seeing the mountain below me. So after returning home, I started researching programs that offer adaptive ski instruction. I found out about the Torrey Pines Kiwanis Ski Scholarship Program that provides disabled athletes with the opportunity to go to Durango, CO for a week and ski with the Adaptive Sports Association (ASA). I applied and was selected to participate for a week in February.

It was amazing. This time I decided to ski because that is what I had grown up doing and I was finding snowboarding very difficult for me because I was unable to maneuver my prosthetic appropriately for snowboarding. I am so happy I decided to ski because I picked it right back up and had a blast skiing for 4 straight days. I was fortunate to be there with ASA and they were so welcoming! Every person was so friendly and helpful. They are doing great things at ASA- each day they have students of all ages in to ski that have a variety of physical and cognitive challenges.



While there, I had a ski instructor (or 2!) with me each day while I skied Purgatory. MJ was awesome. She challenged me when I needed to be challenged and we explored the mountain all week! Plus, she works for one of the National Parks and was able to give me lessons on the geology and wildlife around.

I also stayed with a wonderful host family, Carol and Mike. It was a really nice week with them as well and I finished the week by making them my famous enchiladas!

There is something so wonderful about growing up in Colorado and then getting off a plane and spending time in the crisp, fresh mountain air. After enjoying my time in Colorado, I decided that next year I will definitely be skiing more!

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