As a part of our series on cancer and cancer pain in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month, guest blogger, Claire Petretti, E-RYT, NASM-CPT, shares her experience with cancer, and how yoga helped her recovery. She specializes in Yoga, Yoga for Cancer Recovery, and Pilates.
In January 2010, I was on top of the world enjoying life as a full-time yoga teacher and writer. I’ve always been health conscious and taken care of myself with exercise and nutrition, balanced out with a little red wine and chocolate. To say that I was shocked to find a lump in my breast and be diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer is an understatement.
As a yoga teacher, I’d always known of the incredible benefits of yoga for the body, mind, and spirit. Until I was diagnosed with breast cancer, however, I had no idea how much yoga would help me cope with the effects of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and stress.
Cancer attacks your body, but it also attacks your mental well-being. Conventional medicine is aimed at destroying the physical symptoms of the cancer, but often fails to tackle the significant effects cancer has on the mind and spirit. Yoga addresses the entire person.
Over the course of the year, I endured three surgeries, six rounds of aggressive chemotherapy and almost two months of daily radiation. I balanced out this assault on my body with a primarily plant-based diet filled with anti-oxidants, daily exercise, acupuncture and most importantly, yoga. My doctors often commented that I was their “wonder patient” because I never got really nauseous through chemo and seemed to maintain a comparatively high level of energy during treatment. Don’t get me wrong: many days I was exhausted and despondent. Despite the fluctuations in my energy levels, I continued to teach most of my yoga classes and got certified to teach Yoga for Cancer Therapy while undergoing chemotherapy myself.
I credit teaching and practicing yoga as vital components in my journey back to radiant health. I am passionate about sharing this gift with others going through any type of cancer. In addition to teaching Yoga for Cancer Recovery classes, I created and launched a Yoga for Cancer Recovery DVD to reach a broader audience and facilitate safe yoga practice at home.
Practicing yoga during treatment and recovery will provide the following benefits:
- Learning to handle side-effects of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation
- Experiencing healing techniques for the mind, body and spirit
- Boosting energy, improving mood, learning relaxation and breathing techniques to combat fatigue, stress and pain
- Restoring flexibility, strength, and range of motion, and enhancing lymphatic flow, digestion and circulation
It worked for me and can work for you. Remember to listen to your body and do what you can today.