Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Inspiring Women

Five beautiful, inspiring women came to my Yoga for Breast Cancer Survivors class tonight at Yoga Sutra. And when I say beautiful, I mean, I really mean physical beauty: five women with beautiful faces and beautiful figures. I don't want to sound shallow, but even as a breast cancer survivor, it still surprises me to see young, attractive women battling this disease. I think somehow in my mind, I still believe that it only happens to the old, the fat, the ugly, the evil...even though I know I am none of those things, myself.

I think that many of us want to believe that cancer can only happen to those who are somehow deserving of it, whether by virtue of a family history (the inevitable question, "did it run in your family" often comes from those people for whom breast cancer does NOT run in the family, and who would like to identify family history as a distinguishing factor) or by virtue of not taking proper care of onesself or some other reason by which the person with cancer can be blamed or set apart (with a cough and a sideways glance, I will now admit that before breast cancer happened to me, when I heard of a woman with breast cancer, I would want to know - was she in good shape? did she work out? did she smoke? did she have kids by the time she was 30? did she breastfeed?).

These women are not only beautiful but smart and just downright inspiring. One is still in the middle of treatment - she wore a wig to the studio and a bandanna in class. The rest are just starting to grow back their hair. One had a lumpectomy and lymph node dissection. The rest had mastectomies - one had double mastectomy and is also the survivor of a cancer she had in childhood. But life goes on for these women. Cancer is just another pothole.

I am about two years past where these women are, and being with them, watching them gain mobility back in their chests and shoulders and get strong again, it just lifts me up.

Once again, I have to give a big shout out to David Kelman and the rest of the folks at Yoga Sutra for letting us take over their community space for close to two hours each week. It means a lot to us girls.



CCC said...

Lauren -

I'm 34 and was shocked when a lump was found in my breast last December during a routine Pap smear. At the last minute I asked for a breast exam, something I'd never done before. The nurse was obviously alarmed when she found the lump.

I was told "possible benign, have another mammogram in six months." It seems women with insurance or who can afford it often opt to have a biopsy regardless of what I was told. The lump is still there, hasn't changed size. I'm past due for my follow-up.

Most days I forget about it. But then I come here and read about young women with cancer and get my reality check. Things like this save lives. Thank you for sharing about your class. I'm going to start saving straight away and get that mammogram.

(Who knew that teeny breasts could be flattened like that!)


yoga chickie said...

I had only two mammograms in my life - one when I was 35, and it showed nothing. And one when I was 36, and I already knew I had breast cancer (the breast surgeon made me have the mammo for purposes of research and mapping out the breast). Neither was painful, but I think it's because my breasts weren't teeny - they were a full B/small C. Now, I don't have to have mammos anymore because there's nothing to mammo! Just implants, no breast tissue at all.

Unfortunately, young women do get breast cancer. But it sure sounds like your lump is NOT cancer. The mammo was benign. You should have it rechecked, like they told you. But benign is benign! At this point, they would just be looking for changes.

I hope you can save up and get your mammo soon. I wish that money didn't come into play when it comes to health care. Are you not in the U.S.? Most hospitals here have some sort of free mammo program....


CCC said...

I'm in Oregon. My first mammo was covered by a breast cancer fund. The nurses were worried and spent an hour huddled in whisphers trying to figure out how they could get me my appointment. Thank goodness one of them sits on the fund's board ... normally insurance and even funds like this one don't cover women under the age of 40. But I'm not able to get my follow-up covered. It'll happen soon enough. :o)

yoga chickie said...

That really sucks not to be able to get the follow up covered. Hopefully, you will be able to pay for it soon. Maybe you can get them to remove it so that you don't have to keep having it followed up....Lauren

CCC said...

That's a great idea. If I'm going to pay for the mammogram, why not have it removed and biopsied just to be safe. I'll have to price that. Thanks.

Wait ... just remembered. On a breast cancer board I was advised against having it removed because of the scar tissue it creates. The scar tissue will affect mammograms and restrict viewing of possible future lumps in that area.

Oh well.

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About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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