Blog – My Guru, Cancer

Breast Reconstruction, Cancer Diagnosis, Medical Updates, Surgery, the work of byron katie and cancer, yoga therapy and breast cancer

Update: Prepping for the last Hoorah ~ Breast Reconstruction

OMG. It’s finally happening. After almost 2 years of cancer treatment, the finale is just around the corner. Breast reconstruction (ie – new boobs!) is scheduled for May 4th! AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! I am one big bag of emotions ~ overjoyed to be DONE, really DONE, with treatment (except 5-10 yrs of hormone therapy) and ecstatic to meet my new breasts. Yesterday I was driving between yoga clients and broke out into tears. I’m in awe. Wow. It’s really happening. I really did this. So proud of me!

What. A. Journey.

My thinking is also anxious ~ how will they look? How will they feel? Will I like them? What if something goes wrong? Dear God, that was a lot of potential “complications” I signed off on…including my own death!

And impatient & boob obsessed ~ are we there yet? Time for new boobs? I want them now! New boobs….pause. Come back to your breath. Inhale. Exhale…Boobs, BOOBS, boobs, NEW BOOBS!!!!

This past week, I had my pre-op visit with my plastic surgeon and underwent testing (bloodwork & EKG) to ensure this body is ready to go! We talked about the type, size, & projection of my implants. I’ve chosen to go with his recommendation of the newest round “gummy bear” implant ~ it feels the most natural, is leak-proof, and lasts the longest (20-30 years). I held one, squished it around, put it under my shirt, and tossed it up and down. Pretty nice…

The way he chooses the size is by measuring the width of my chest and then I have the option of choosing the projection ~ how far forward my boobs are (low, medium, high, ultra high). He was really into the ultra high, but after looking at photos ~ I’m going with high because they look more natural to me.

When I first met with my plastic surgeon, he handed me a pamphlet of his work and I remember one woman in particular stood out: Samantha. Samantha’s boobs are amazing. Give me Samantha’s boobs. Yes, please. Ironically, Samantha was actually the name of my alter-ego when I wore my sexy wig during chemo. Destiny? I think so.

My surgeon confirmed that mine would be similar to hers and that she is actually now a bikini model. New career in my future?

Breast Reconstruction Surgery

The surgery is much shorter (about 2 hours) and the recovery is supposed to be much easier than the last. He will go into the same scars from the mastectomy and make a smaller incision, remove the tissue expanders (SEE YA and won’t miss ya AT ALL), and replace them with the implants.

What’s super weird is that while I’m off in a deep, drug-induced sleep, he props me upright in the bed and tries on about 5 different implant sizes to see what looks best. And no, Travis can not watch this part and give the final “Ok.” Apparently that might be traumatizing for a husband.

He will then liposuction fat from my love handles and put it into my breasts for extra padding between the implant and skin ~ it also helps to shape the breasts. I have been diligently working very hard on building this fat with the help of nightly Coconut Bliss ice cream..I’ve gained 15 lbs back from my lowest weight in chemo, 108. How crazy weird is it that in less than 2 weeks, I will be wearing my muffin tops in my breasts???!!!

I try not to think about the procedure details too much…it creeps me out. Actually, it’s my thoughts that are creeping me out. The procedure doesn’t even exist yet. It definitely takes a certain type of stomach to do this work and I’m grateful for the expertise of my surgeon and his staff. And even more grateful that I get to show up, go to sleep, and wake up with new boobs.

The finals will be softer, closer together, and more natural looking than my expanders + the same anti-gravity perk. And they will not be perfectly symmetrical ~ because of radiation, the left side will always be a little higher and tighter than the right. Hopefully things will be pointed in the right direction. Or maybe I’ll end up with a set of googley eyes. We’ll see!

So now it’s my job to just let go and trust.

Getting Ready

In preparation for the surgery, I am also eating more pineapple and papaya ~ they have natural enzymes (bromelain & papain) that help the body heal faster and reduce scarring. I’ll also be taking 30c of Arnica ~ a homeopathic remedy for healing from trauma, bruising, etc. the day before surgery and for a few days after.

Other than that, my welcomed distraction has been planning our Inner Peace Retreat which is NEXT weekend in the Austin Hill Country! So the weekend before surgery will be spent doing what I love: relaxing in nature, teaching yoga, exploring inquiry, eating delish organic vegetarian meals, and connecting with an amazing community of like-minded folks. And I get to lead it with my dear friend and fellow facilitator, Susan…she’s amazing! I anticipate a lot of silliness & laughter, coupled with insightful, life-changing Mind/Body work. Still a few spots left if you want to join!

The property is Living Waters on Lake Travis ~ it’s where my husband and I were married 6 years ago. We loved it so much that just a few months after the wedding, we asked the owners if we could move there, take over, and grow it into a thriving retreat business. Which it now is! We rocked it for 4 years before returning to Dallas. The first week of May is our 10-year anniversary of being together + our wedding anniversary. So it’s safe to say this time at Living Waters is special to me in so many ways.

My mom will be coming in town for the surgery to help me (she is the best nurse ever!) and to celebrate the end of our journey. She has probably been to Dallas 6-7 times over the past year and a half. Her unwavering support, ability to anticipate my needs before I’m even aware of them, and compassionate care has helped me IMMENSELY throughout this process. It sounds cliché, but I have couldn’t have done this without her. Actually, I could have…but I would have gone completely cray cray on many more occasions. Love you, mamma.

Recovery is about 5 weeks, yet I should be driving within 3-5 days and can lift up to 15-20 lbs. I plan to take 2 weeks off of work and then play the rest of May by ear. Many women have shared with me that the pain isn’t bad at all ~ they’re off heavy pain meds within a day or so, yet I’m also well aware that the pain level from the last surgery was wayyyyy more than I expected. So I’m setting aside the time to just be…

Ok, friends ~ YOU have been with me throughout all of this! Can you believe it? It’s happening!!!! Thank you SO MUCH for your continued encouragement, support, & inspiration. Send some healing vibes to me the morning of May 4th.

May the fourth be with you…NEW BOOBS!

 

Related Posts

Mental Medicine ~ The Work of Byron Katie

The Future of My Boobs (FOMB)

Gratitude, Elephants, & Going Potty ~ My Experience of Breast Surgery

Self-discovery while in Recovery

Life with Tissue Expander Boobs

Breast Reconstruction, Medical Updates, Side Effects of Cancer Treatment, Surgery, Uncategorized, yoga therapy and breast cancer

Life with Tissue Expander Boobs

After my double mastectomy last April, I remember reading an online article about how women are now forced to live with prosthetic body parts because of breast cancer. I thought to myself, “Wow, that sounds horrible. I guess I’m really lucky that I didn’t need to go through that too.” I even felt a little shame about it, “I got off pretty easy.” I had an image of these women in my mind: they are suffering, cancer victims.

Flash forward 3 months…I had just finished radiation and was planning a month-long celebration vacation. This was the first time I was flying post-surgery so I asked my plastic surgeon if there was anything I needed to know about traveling with tissue expander boobs ~ ummmm….do they set off the security alarms? Can they blow up at a certain altitude?

He said there’s nothing to worry about and his office could give me a letter explaining that I’m in breast cancer treatment. As I read through the letter in the waiting room of his office, my heart skipped a beat:

“Bethany is undergoing breast reconstruction and currently has prosthetic devices in her chest.”

Wait a minute. Say what? Prosthetic devices?

Pointing to my tattas, I asked the assistant at the front desk, “Are these prosthetic devices?”

“Yes,” she responded.

I burst out laughing. There I was imagining these poor victimized women with their prosthetic body parts and guess what? I’m one of them!

But yet, I’m not a victim ~ it’s not so bad having temporary anti-gravity boobies (which by the way, don’t blow up on airplanes). Are they weird as hell? Yes. And with clothes on, they look like boobs with an extra perk.

So…What are Tissue Expanders?

Tissue expanders are temporary implants that replace women’s breast tissue after a double mastectomy is performed (often, and in my case – it’s done in the same surgery). The outer layer is much harder than a regular implant and there is a small round area at the top of the expander for filling. They serve 4 main purposes:

  1. It emotionally supports a woman as she gets to wake up from surgery with some sort of breasts.
  2. They stretch the skin to prepare it for the final implants/breast reconstruction surgery.
  3. They hold the skin in place as it goes through radiation, which can shrink/tighten the skin.
  4. So the woman can be overly excited to receive her final implants because gosh darn…they’re gonna be better than these!

I also think tissue expanders could use a new name. Please choose from the following:

Boobs of Steel

Fembot Tattas

Basketball Boobies

Bionic Super Hero Breasts

Boobie Fill Tuesdays ~ the Expanding Process

From A to D ~ watch my boobs (and hair) grow!

Starting one week after surgery, I visited the plastic surgeon for weekly boob fills on Tuesdays. This is another way of saying that I got to see my boobs GROW a half or full size every week!!! He places a syringe full of saline in the top of the expander (the silver part). I don’t feel any pain ~ just a little pressure ~ and then sure enough ~ bigger boobs! Yes, I did take a video (how was I his 1st patient to do that???) and no, I’m not sharing it here.

I really enjoyed experimenting with different boob sizes. The expanding process happens until you reach your desired size, which for me is a small C. Anything larger than that would look a little too porn star on my small frame. He then blows up the “used to have cancer” side to be a size larger because it will be going through radiation which shrinks the skin.

So I spent the summer of 2016 with a leftie super boob!

The Hardest Part for Me…

I had heard from most women that tissue expanders weren’t painful ~ they were weird and uncomfortable at times ~ but not painful. So I was surprised to experience some pretty intense holy shit pain during the expanding process. Like I mentioned before, the fills were not painful. It was the time between fills. Because my tissue expanders are placed underneath my pec muscles, my pecs received an intense stretch when I got a boob fill. This then put extra pressure on my rib cage and surrounding shoulder girdle muscles. During this time, I also had a rare complication called “cording” which made it difficult to fully move and stretch my left arm. The fact that I’m a tiny person may have made it more difficult too. What supported me the most is physical therapy, yoga stretching, breathing, and yes – pain medication. Once again, I was confronted with my thoughts about medicine and you know what? It helped me immensely.

Life with Tissue Expanders

After the filling process was complete, the pain disappeared. The expanders did a great job of holding the skin in place during radiation. Now I am in “the waiting game” for my final surgery which is scheduled for May 4th. My plastic surgeon tends to wait longer than usual for the final reconstruction ~ 8-12 months after radiation. Since the skin can shrink during and even months after radiation, the longer time frame gives my skin plenty of time to fully heal, which will lead to a better aesthetic outcome and a less likely chance of complications, such as rippling and capsular contracture. I figure that I’ll have these boobs the rest of my life, so what’s a few extra months?

During the waiting game, I am still living a full life. I don’t really notice them much until I look in the mirror for my nightly ritual of massaging oils & lotions onto the skin to help the healing process.

Do I regret choosing this surgery?

To be honest, I have had moments where I have questioned my surgery decision. There has been a natural grieving process for my breasts ~ they have permanently changed (and they were pretty fabulous before!). I’ve had to be gentle with myself through many tears. Sometimes I feel insecure and not “natural” or as “feminine” as I used to be ~ more on this in a separate blog post. My mind has told me “A lumpectomy would have been easier. I made the wrong decision. I won’t like my final breasts.” Yet, is that true for me?

Actually, it’s not true. A lumpectomy + radiation would have made my left breast much smaller, so I would have needed to do breast augmentation on the right side to match (this involves more scarring as my right nipple would be removed and moved up). I am also reminded that my natural breast tissue was incredibly dense and lumpy ~ it was difficult to decipher the cancer lumps vs. natural lumps. I don’t know if I’d ever have cancer again, but I was guaranteed to have lumps again which means I’d need to go through a lifetime of “find the lump/mammo/ultrasound/biopsy/wait for results.” There are many ways to spend my time and if I have the option, less time in a doctors office works for me.

So…Do I regret it?

NO. I’m happy and grateful for this path. It’s the right choice for me. Without the stress, I’m free to be completely entertained by my boobs of steel. I show them off quite frequently. In fact, I recently spent a day at the Ten Thousand Waves Spa in Santa Fe and soaked nude in the women’s natural spring hot tub. I felt free, confident, and at peace. The other 2 women in the tub left 2 minutes after I arrived, but hey ~ no need to build a stressful story around that. I had the place to myself for 2 hours!

When a woman asks me, “what do they feel like?” I usually immediately grab her hand and place it on my breast or I’ll offer to show her what they look like in the bathroom.

When someone hugs me, they often ask, “oh – am I hurting you?” Dude – I’m the one with the hard-ass, indestructible bowling ball boobs that dig into your chest when we hug…”Am I hurting you?”

PS ~ they can NOT be used as massage tools. I tried with my husband and he wasn’t into it. However, they CAN be used to hold a plate of food while watching Netflix.

They keep me in my yoga practice. Daily stretching, movement, & some strengthening is choice-less for me.

I am also free to LOVE the anti-gravity bonus…you see, I didn’t realize just how much my natural boobs yanked on my shoulders & neck until I had weightless breasts. There are tiny, strappy, tank tops and bras that I can now wear and I LOVE it! Most of the time, I don’t even need a bra (except to cover my nipples in some shirts).

They don’t move. At all. So rebounding on my trampoline doesn’t hurt anymore. I don’t need to wear 2 sports bras while running (ok, I actually don’t run…but if I did, major support was needed!). So I created this facebook video to showcase this talent…

 

Final Surgery ~ May 4th!

I am beyond stoked for my final surgery, which is coming up in less than ONE month! Time has actually flown by and I am so okay with that. I have had fun designing my final breasts with my husband ~ we googled boob images online and showed my plastic surgeon. PS – googling boobs can bring up some pretty disturbing images…

The final ones will be much softer, closer together, and more natural looking. I will actually be able to have cleavage again! I’ve longed for the day I can look down and see a butt crack on my chest again. I plan to wear a lot of slutty clothes after May ~ tube tops, backless shirts, bikinis…bring it!

I choose to focus on the bright side of this process, the cancer bonuses and what I’m learning about myself. How I’m becoming more loving, accepting, and patient with my body and mind. How I can find humor in anything. This isn’t painting an airy fairy image over everything ~ it’s actually reality. And when I’m feeling down, The Work of Byron Katie brings me back. It’s a kind universe.

Related Posts

Mental Medicine ~ The Work of Byron Katie

The Future of My Boobs (FOMB)

Gratitude, Elephants, & Going Potty ~ My Experience of Breast Surgery

When Complications become Blessings

How I Found Peace during “The Waiting Game”

 

 

Inquiry

Inquiry: “Chemo is poisonous to my body” ~ is it true?

“You’re going to put poison in your body?” a good friend of mine innocently asked when I told her of my diagnosis and treatment plan. “Chemo only creates cancer and kills people” is what I heard from an “expert” in alternative care when I watched The Truth About Cancer on-line series in the beginning of treatment (you know, while it was coursing through my veins).

Seeing my bald head, an old man approached me while I’m was in the middle of a pedicure, “Are you in cancer treatment? My friend was too for xyz cancer and I was with him every brutal step of the way until the end of his life. Can I add you to my prayer circle?” 

CHEMO IS POISON.  Everybody says it, even some doctors. But have you ever stopped to really consider…is it actually true for you?

In case you haven’t noticed from my blog ~ The Work of Byron Katie has been THE most helpful tool in finding peace during my cancer journey. It’s a way to identify & question stressful thoughts ~ a way to notice the side effects of holding onto a belief and the freedom that fills your body & mind without it.

Stressful thoughts about chemo and conventional treatment came up often for me. A friend & fellow Certified Facilitator, Robyn Povich, facilitated me on the big kahuna thought, “Chemo is poisonous to my body.” After sitting in this meditation, I was able to walk (& often sleep) through treatment with clarity, peace, & even humor. I can honestly say that I ENJOYED much of my chemo experience ~ while I was IN it ~ not just went it was over. What???!!! Here’s how I got to this space…

 

THE WORK OF BYRON KATIE – THE FOUR QUESTIONS

Stressful thought: “Chemo is poisonous to my body.”

1. Is it true? (NOTE: the answer to the 1st 2 questions is a simple “yes” or “no.” ~ I’ve added mental commentary so you can see where my mind went)

Yes. (Look at how many people are saying it and remember all of the movies I’ve seen? I’ve read the list of side effects and attended the chemo class – HELL yeah, it’s true!)

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

No. (I can’t 100% know for sure that it is poisonous to MY body….hmmmm…)

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

I freak out. Pure panic. A warning siren goes off in my entire body ~ my stomach feels queezy, my shoulders climb up to my ears, my jaw tightens, breath shortens. I worry I’m making the wrong decision and I treat myself as an uninformed idiot playing into Big Pharma. I tell myself I’m doing it all wrong. I feel shame and embarrassment when speaking to others, especially my “all-natural” friends. I’m angry and begin to distrust my doctors ~ they don’t really want to heal me. I take the horror stories I’ve heard from others + the movies I’ve seen and project them into my own future ~ tragically dying young. I get a case of the “what-ifs.” What if they’re right – what if it will kill me?! Or even worse, what if there’s a lifetime of side effects making my quality of life pure shit…forever. I see no possibility of joy, only worse-case scenarios. I treat chemo like it is the devil – it’s out to break me and ruin every part of me – mind, body, and spirit. I see my body as sick and frail, unable to “handle” the poison. I see it seeking revenge on me by giving up and letting the cancer spread further. I’m a terrified, lonely, hopeless victim.

(Sounds like an ideal state for healing cancer, huh?)

4. Who would you be without the thought?

I am back at home in my body ~ I feel my breath…my body is relaxed and strong. I see how well I am doing ~ I feel courage, pride, and gratitude. I realize that I am not experiencing all of the horrible side effects that I heard about in this moment ~ in fact, I feel pretty good. And the side effects I do have (no hair, weight loss, tired, achey) aren’t so bad after all. I remember all of the amazing women I have met who have been through chemo and are living happy, healthy lives. I am more present and positive. I am able to share my treatment plan with others with confidence ~ I trust that I am making the right decision for me. I see my doctors as kind, caring, and truly on my side. I remember my oncologist’s words, “I think we can cure this.” I feel my breast and armpit and can feel the lumps getting smaller and smaller. I am grateful for medicine and scientific research. I see chemo as a gift, as a healing cleanse that is working WITH me, not against me. My job becomes much simpler: show up for the next treatment, relax, and receive.

(Ahhhh…what a relief. But the 4 questions aren’t enough for my mind – it needs more PROOF which takes us to the turnarounds.)

TURN THE THOUGHT AROUND

A statement can be turned around to the self, the other, and the opposite. Sometimes more ways and sometimes less. For each turnaround, find at least 3 genuine examples of how it’s true. For me, the turnarounds really serve to open my mind to so many new realities.

Stressful thought: “Chemo is poisonous to my body.”

TO THE OPPOSITE: “Chemo is not poisonous to my body” or the extreme opposite, “Chemo is healing to my body.”

Examples:

  1. I have no solid proof that right now, it is poisoning my body. I only see images in my mind and they are not real. How can I know for sure what’s going on in there?
  2. I’m getting good reports by the doctors. I can feel my tumors shrinking. I still have white blood cells.
  3. It helps me to slow down and get plenty of rest, which supports healing.
  4. It is part of a treatment plan where 85% of women are cured of this type of breast cancer. And oh yeah, it’s called chemoTHERAPY…heheheee, forgot about the therapy part 😉
  5. I am still able to exercise, do yoga, go walking, work, eat, take naps, have sex, and even travel.
  6. It is a healing cleanse – it wipes the body clean of what no longer serves it.
  7. My healthy lifestyle is protecting my healthy cells.
  8. I am not experiencing crazy, horrible side effects ~ I never even threw up once.
  9. Because of the side effects listed, I am more motivated to support myself with healing foods, supplements, and exercise. I honestly think I am healthier!
  10. I know many women of all ages who have rocked through chemo and now live happy, healthy lives.

TO THE SELF: (note – when you are judging an object, the turnaround to the self becomes “my thinking” instead of “I”). “My thinking about chemo is poisonous to my body.”

Examples:

  1. When I believe my stressful thoughts, my body is tense, panicked, not breathing fully. It’s in stress “fight or flight” mode which may not necessarily help the healing process.
  2. I continue to replay the stories I’ve heard from others in my head and gossip about it to other people. This reinforces the “poison” image and leaves me feeling frustrated, confused, and hopeless.
  3. I heard a story, I believed it. The label “poison” lives in my mind, not in my reality.
  4. When I go into an imaginary future of pain, suffering, side effects, and an early death.
  5. Chemo itself is innocent, it’s a clear or red liquid. It’s my thinking about it that creates suffering in this moment.

TO THE OTHER: “My body is poisonous to chemo.” 

(This one sounds weird, but I’ll try it on…)

Examples:

  1. Ah ha! My lymphatic system collects and moves toxins out of my body ~ it then releases it through sweat, urine, or poooo….
  2. My body is strong and healthy; the healthy cells have continued to rock regardless of what chemo does. Maybe there are parts of my body that rejected chemo?
  3. Oh, I did 5 months of chemo and am still alive, in fact ~ I feel pretty great. And there’s no more cancer!

YAHOO: “Chemo is poisonous to my body!” Yahoo! Sometimes the non-traditional yahoo turnaround is available. It’s a way to look at your original thought ~ and assuming that it is actually true, how could this be good? How could this serve you?

(When Robyn mentioned this turnaround, my heart sunk a little. Eek! Then she pointed out the following example:)

Examples:

  1. Chemo is poisonous to cancer cells. Isn’t that why you’re taking it?

(YES! One of the many gifts of working with a facilitator ~ they are often able to point out things that are hidden to the mind. Then I could find a few more on my own:)

2. It helps me stay really clear and consistent in my self-care ~ for me, this is a clean diet, daily movement, and taking my “mental medicine” ~ the work of byron katie.

3. It helps me to find all-natural cures for dealing with side effects (and sometimes I used medicine too) ~ check out this blog post for details.

Some additional thoughts that I have worked about chemo:

People who are evolved don’t choose chemo (or any conventional medicine).

People judge me for choosing chemo.

Chemo will give me a lifetime of serious side effects.

Chemo is making me too tired.

It’s been one year since I completed chemo. It just wasn’t poison for me; I actually gave it a new name: C-Love.

A friend once asked, “are you on the RD?” I had no clue what that meant. It stands for the “Red Devil” and is a nickname for the chemo drug called Adriamycin that is responsible for hair loss. I thought to myself…wait a minute, isn’t it the Red Savior? I mean, isn’t that why we’re doing this? Making friends with medicine is much kinder to me than fearing and hating it. And that may not be true for everyone.

Of the many C-Love selfies, these are my favorites!

 

And I sure as hell had a party when I was done. A full-on Nae-Nae dance party!

Right now as I sip tea in a coffee shop in Dallas, I am just SO grateful I chose this path. Once again, I got to see that the stories in my head were worse than the reality of it. I am humbled and no longer judge others for their choice of treatment. Everyone needs to do what is right for them ~ there is no one way to heal.

I’ve had many more thoughts about medicine as I went through surgery and radiation too. Even after treatment, my mind still comes in and tells me scary stories about the future…they are just thoughts and thankfully, they all have a home in inquiry.

I have been sharing this work in what I call “Mental Medicine” workshops at the Dallas Cancer Support Center and am working privately with clients who are recently diagnosed, have completed treatment, and/or have family members with cancer. It is SUCH a privilege, such an honor….to work in this space, from this space. I get it. I’ve been there. There is a way out of the suffering. And I’m still a work in progress too.

One friend who attended a workshop sent me this message:

“My experience this week (having her first chemo treatment) is a thousand times better than my thoughts about it last week. Thank you for all of your help and care!”

The work works. Now… where do you fear medicine? Are you willing to question your sacred beliefs?

 

START YOUR OWN PRACTICE OF THE WORK

 

HELPFUL RELATED BLOG POSTS

Cancer Diagnosis, Inquiry, Post Treatment, the work of byron katie and cancer, yoga therapy and breast cancer

What if Fear is just a Fart?

I am truly grateful and blessed to be someone who can say the words, “I use to have cancer and now I don’t.” My latest CT scan showed no evidence of anything cancery in my body – cancer free baby! Cancer is over.

Or is it?

hellomynameisfearThe truth is cancer has come back many times….in my mind. The fear of cancer returning and returning terminally is a big practice for me. Yes, I’m aware it’s all mental and holy crap – it can take me for quite a ride! It’s like a vampire who sucks the joy out of everything. It’s the voice that says, “Don’t get too excited…What if…?”

And from the many women who I have connected with during this journey – I’m not the only one who experiences this fear.

Back in August when I was on my post-treatment celebration vacation, I attended a retreat in Quebec led by a friend & Certified Facilitator for The Work of Byron Katie, Tom Compton. Tom is amazing. I consider him to be one of those connected, special souls who was put on this earth to inspire others to live a fearless, joyful life, simply by being himself. Life has given him many surprises as well ~ his wife recently passed away from breast cancer.

Hearing him speak of his time with his wife as she transitioned inspired me ~ it showed me how death can be an intimate, heart-opening experience for a family. I also loved seeing how well he is doing ~ he moved to California and started surfing every day. He is happy and has somehow started to reverse the process of aging (he looks 20 years younger than the last time I saw him!).

What I have feared about death is how it will affect my loved ones, especially my husband. I shared this with Tom, and he said “it would break his heart. And then it would break it wide open.”

While I found comfort in his words, I also started to ask a lot of questions.

“How did your wife know the cancer had returned?”

As soon as the words left my mouth, my mind came in with, “EEK! Are you sure you want to know this? The answer is totally going to fuck with you. WARNING!”

And I still wanted to know.

He said that her stomach became very bloated and they found tumors all along the lining of it ~ from then, it was just a matter of time. I felt an immediate pain in my stomach. However, I acted brave and moved on to the next conversation.

So of course, naturally, for the first half of the retreat, my stomach became bloated. It was crampy. I started obsessively feeling it for lumps. Oh shit, this is it.

One of the main reasons I joined the retreat is to confront any remaining fear/unease around my cancer diagnosis. I could see that this was the perfect time for me to experience these sensations. It was happening for me. Throughout the retreat, I did a lot of inquiry on my fear of death, fear of having chosen the wrong treatment plan, and fears of my family suffering.

There was a lot of crying. It felt tender and kind to let the little terrified girl inside of me fully speak – fully express herself. I also felt very held and supported by Tom and the other retreat participants. It became clear that a bloated belly is not a problem – it’s what I’m believing about it that hurts. Cancer returning is not a problem. Death is not a problem. It’s the labels I put on them that create my suffering.

Then one afternoon, I took a bath. I looked at my bloated belly and caressed it. I wiggled my legs straight and began to lean into a forward fold. And then…something magical happened.

I passed gas for about 30 seconds…it was the longest wind relief I’ve ever experienced! I burst out with laughter – farts are always entertaining to me – I grew up with brothers and we have so many fond family fart memories. Did you know you can save one in a jar and give it to someone as a gift?

When I sat up from my forward fold, my stomach was flat and back to normal – my giggles turned into an overwhelmingly grateful big ol’ ugly cry. My fears. My terror. All along, it was just a fart. Then the next day, my menstrual cycle made an appearance after a 3-month hiatus.

So I share this somewhat mortifying story with you for a reason. How often have you experienced fear and it turned out to be absolutely nothing? Or maybe your fear came true, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise?

Maybe fear is just an entertaining, farty friend, inviting you to get out of your head, let go, and enjoy reality.

If fear still has a grip on you, I invite you to identify what you’re thinking and believing and take it to inquiry with The Work of Byron Katie. I would love to hear what you discover. xoxo

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Alternative/Complimentary Therapies, Cancer Diagnosis, chemotherapy, Side Effects of Cancer Treatment, Side Effects of Chemotherapy, the work of byron katie and cancer, yoga therapy and breast cancer

All Natural Remedies for Chemo Side Effects

This post is for anyone looking for natural & effective ways of dealing with the side effects of cancer treatment, especially chemotherapy.

So here you are, about to take the next step into your healing cancer treatment plan: chemotherapy, which I affectionately now call “C-Love.” Take a look in the mirror at that sweet, beautiful face. You are strong. Fearless. Or possibly scared shitless?

If you’re like me, you may have heard 1,000 horror stories about chemo and I’m here to tell you that it just wasn’t my experience. Do you think your body has a better opportunity to heal when you are cursing and fearing your treatment or accepting it with gratitude? I chose to receive C-Love as a healing cleanse for my body. I envisioned my healthy cells being protected and anything that no longer serves me being washed away. I chose to see the good in all things ~ the needles, the nurses, the
drugs, the side effects. Chemo taught me how to slow down, focus on me, and love myself unconditionally. How to enjoy the simple pleasures of life and connect with others. How to see I am always supported, even when I’m not feeling so hot. There were some hard times, a lot of easy/fun times, and some hilarious times. Open your mind to the blessings that are always around you ~ I promise, they are there.

I noticed different sensations would come and go and I LOVED learning all-natural ways to support my body and mind. So here is a list of what worked for me. I invite you to see what you’re drawn to, clear anything necessary with your doctor, and find what works for you. You’ve so got this!

Overall Health & Wellbeing thru the Cancer Journey

(click links for more guidance on each therapy)

Yoga

Breathing

Meditation

The Work of Byron Katie

Walking

Rebounding

Acupuncture

Nutrition

Supplements

Emotional Releasing

Writing

Art

Essential Oils

Sound Healing

 

Low Immunity

  • Eat organic, plant-based diet with lots of fruits and veggies.
  • Avoid meat, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, gluten, dairy, soy (ALL soy- especially for estrogen-positive cancers). If you eat meat, choose all-natural meats with no growth hormones or antibiotics.
  • Stay hydrated and drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of filtered water (alkaline spring water in glass bottles is best).
  • Organic Raw Vegetable Juices
  • Ginger & Turmeric Tea (click link for recipes)
  • Warm Water w/Lemon
  • Curcumin Supplement
  • Garden of Life Organic Multi-Vitamin
  • Garden of Life Raw Organic Vitamin C
  • Garden of Life Raw Organic Probiotic
  • Vitamin D
  • Calm Magnesium & Calcium Supplement
  • The Work of Byron Katie ~ Do you think your body has a better opportunity to heal when you are at peace and loving life or when you are stressed and angry? When you are cursing and fearing your treatment or accepting it with gratitude? Question your stressful thoughts and find peace during the cancer journey.
  • Daily movement like walking, yoga, dancing, swimming, rebounding.
  • Time relaxing in nature
  • Meditation
  • Acupuncture
  • Wash hands frequently and avoid touching face & mouth.
  • Keep all-natural hand sanitizer in purse.
  • Avoid crowded places, especially during nadir days ~ when WBC (white blood count) is lowest.

 

Nausea

  • Stay hydrated and drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of filtered water (alkaline spring water in glass bottles is best).
  • Ginger & Turmeric Tea
  • Organic Raw Vegetable Juices
  • Curcumin Supplement
  • Eat smaller meals multiple times per day.
  • Eat blander foods and avoid spicy foods.
  • Enjoy soups, smoothies with turmeric & ginger.
  • Avoid over-eating; stop eating before you are full.
  • Gentle belly breathing
  • Take ALL medications and supplements WITH food unless directed otherwise by doctor.
  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga: Practicing constructive rest position (lying on back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor) or reclining bound angle pose (lying on back, soles of the feet together, knees wide) has helped me with the stomach flutters. I place my hands on my belly and breath into them. Pelvic tilts, rocking the knees side to side, and child’s pose have been really helpful too. Avoid a lot of up and down movement.
  • Warm (not hot) showers and baths
  • Acupuncture

 

Fatigue

  • Daily movement – choose something you love – walking, yoga, rebounding, swimming, dancing – at least 30 min/day will help you to build & sustain energy.
  • Rest when you need to rest. Think of your energy level like a gas tank between each treatment ~ don’t over-do it in the beginning and pace yourself. This your time to slow down and be.
  • Master the art of napping ~ it’s AWESOME! The body heals when it sleeps.
  • Eat organic, plant-based diet with lots of fruits and veggies.
  • Avoid meat, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, gluten, dairy, soy (ALL soy- especially for estrogen-positive cancers). If you eat meat, choose all-natural meats with no growth hormones or antibiotics.
  • The Work of Byron Katie ~ Believing stressful thoughts can zap your energy; clear your mind and gain greater peace by questioning your stressful thoughts.
  • Stay hydrated and drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of filtered water (alkaline spring water in glass bottles is best).
  • Meditation
  • Breathing
  • Yoga: A short, gentle flow with supported back bends & heart openers (I prefer blocks & lots of blankets).
  • Acupuncture
  • Physical Therapy
  • Warm (not hot) showers and baths

 

Aches & Pains

  • Stay hydrated and drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of filtered water (alkaline spring water in glass bottles is best).
  • Ginger & Turmeric Tea
  • Calm Magnesium & Calcium Supplement
  • Curcumin Supplement
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Yoga: Gentle stretching & breathing with an extended exhale. If legs are extra achey, I will lie on my back and place my legs up the wall.
  • The Work of Byron Katie ~ Question your stressful thoughts about pain (ex/ – “I want the pain to go away.” “I shouldn’t feel like this.”) and question stressful thoughts about what you think the pain means (ex/“It will only get worse. The cancer is spreading. I can’t live like this.”).
  • Warm (not hot) Epson Salt baths
  • Acupuncture

 

Mouth Sores

  • MUST-DO for prevention & treatment: Homemade mouth rinse ~ Add 1 tsp or baking soda + 1 tsp Sea Salt or Himalayan Crystal Salt to 20 oz of water. Rinse mouth 5-6 times per day throughout treatment. This also worked for me at the first signs of a sore throat.
  • Avoid spicy and acidic foods.
  • Ask nurses if sucking on ice while receiving chemo would be helpful (it was recommended for me while receiving the red Adriamycin drug).

 

Constipation

  • Triphala Supplement ~ helps maintain healthy flow of digestion and purifies the blood.
  • Psyllium Husks ~ helps to soften the stools so they can pass through more easily.
  • Ginger & Turmeric Tea
  • Traditional Medicine’s Smooth Move Tea
  • Organic Raw Vegetable Juices
  • Stay hydrated and drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of filtered water (alkaline spring water in glass bottles is best).
  • Eat prunes daily or drink warm prune juice
  • Avoid foods with a lot of bread, meat, dairy
  • Buy a Squatty Potty!
  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga: incorporate gentle core strengthening and twists into your yoga practice.
  • With your hand, gently make circles over your belly in a clockwise direction.
  • For severe constipation, self administer an enema (uncomfortable and WORTH IT!).

 

Hemorrhoids

  • Follow above constipation remedies.
  • Replace toilet paper with all-natural, unscented baby wipes.
  • Add more oils into meals and smoothies (organic, unrefined coconut, olive, sesame oils are best).
  • Keep anus clean and apply a little coconut oil to it.
  • Acupuncture
  • Laugh on the toilet ~ come on, this is pretty ridiculous, eh? I can even tried “toilet yoga.”

 

Dry Skin

  • Keep skin well moisturized throughout treatment.
  • Use all natural (preferably organic) oil-based body products without harmful chemicals or plant-based estrogens.
  • I used organic argan oil, jojoba oil, and Juice Beauty products.

 

Chemo Brain

  • Acupuncture
  • Restorative Yoga: calming poses like forward bends, child’s pose, pigeon, legs up the wall.
  • Meditation
  • Breathing
  • Creamy Ayurvedic Spiced Latté Tea (w/Black Pepper)
  • The cancer journey can be so overwhelming with all of the new information, medical terms to learn, bills, treatments plans, mental/emotional issues…brain fog would be natural for any person going through this! Consider, where can you do less in your life? Can you make time to just relax and be?
  • Humor ~ Everybody forgets stuff, and I chose to laugh about it with myself and others instead of getting frustrated over it. Sometimes I’d remember things and if I didn’t, that’s ok too. This is an appropriate time for the mind to be mushy. Enjoy being more present – people spend a lot of money and time on forgetting the past and future!
  • The Work of Byron Katie ~ Question your stressful thoughts about memory (ex/ “My memory should be better. People will be angry with me (if I forget). My memory is permanently damaged.”) or about any stressful situations you may be experiencing.

 

Weight Loss

  • Increase healthy fats like avocados, olives, nuts, nut butters, seeds, coconut/olive/sesame oil.
  • Add more protein like organic beans, wild-caught salmon, and soy-free, pastuere-raised eggs.
  • Add vegan protein powder such as Hemp Protein or Vega.
  • Buy new clothes that actually fit. This was an emotional game-changer for me!
  • The Work of Byron Katie ~ question any stressful thoughts about your body image (ex/ “I want my old body back. My body is too skinny/ugly. People don’t find me attractive.”).
  • Remember, this too shall pass. Bodies are always changing. This is an opportunity to love yourself regardless of your outer appearance.
  • Acupuncture
  • Eat before and after exercise.
  • Yoga: focus less on cardio movement and more on grounding & strengthening poses Warrior Poses, Triangle, Chair, Tree, Half Moon, & Goddess Pose.

 

Hair Loss

  • Before hair loss (which occurs about 2-3 weeks into treatment), consider cutting and donating your hair to a charity.
  • Have a hair shaving party with close friends and family!
  • Keep an electric razor on hand for when hair begins to fall out. When you’re ready, GI Jane that shit off!
  • Buy a wig, invite some girlfriends to come along!
  • Buy cute scarf’s, hats, wraps – I loved these: chemobeanies.com.
  • Throw a hat/scarf party.
  • If you really don’t want to lose your hair, consider getting the “Cold Cap” treatment, which may be covered by insurance.
  • Acupuncture
  • Embrace being bald ~ there are so many bonuses!
    • The most low maintenance hairstyle you’ll ever have
    • Best head massages
    • Shower at least twice per day
    • No need to buy any hair products – no shampoo, conditioner, styling spray, combs, hair ties, razors
    • Travel just got way easier
    • No more shaving! (people pay a lot of $ for this)
    • Smoothest legs you’ll ever have
    • Feel like a true badass walking around bald – OWN IT – you’re beautiful. Plus people are soooo kind when they see you’re going through cancer treatment. If we all treated each other like we were going through cancer, the world would be a happier place
    • Enjoy the fun process as it grows back – it starts with the super soft fuzzies and then maybe a new color or curlier or straighter!
  • The Work of Byron Katie ~ Question any stressful thoughts about your body image (ex/ “I want my old body back. I look like a sick person. People don’t find me attractive.”).

 

Hot Flashes

  • Acupuncture
  • Wear layers that can easily be stripped off in public.
  • Sleep naked
  • Sleep next to a fan
  • Apply a cold wash clothe on forehead.
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Breathing

 

Acid Reflux or Indigestion

  • Avoid acidic foods like citrus, tomatoes, and vinegars.
  • Take Papaya enzymes before meals.
  • Eat small meals more frequently.
  • Drink warm water with meals.
  • Sleep with the head elevated above the heart.

byronkatiequote

© 2016 Bethany Webb. All rights reserved.

Cancer Diagnosis, the work of byron katie and cancer, yoga therapy and breast cancer

A Different Kind of Breast Cancer Awareness

I remember this time last year…just 2 weeks after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was inundated with OCTOBER: Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Yep, I was definitely aware of it! Cancer was EVERYWHERE. Since I decided to “go public” with my diagnosis, many of my sweet-intentioned friends would send any article my way that had the word “cancer” in it. The message would be the same: women are victims of this horrible disease <insert horror story that would give anyone with a diagnosis a panic attack> and we need to fight, fight, fight it!!!

Well, that’s not my story of cancer.

I experienced a different kind of breast cancer awareness…what if it’s not bad? What if it makes our lives better? What if there are fun parts of treatment? What if the reality of cancer is better than the scary stories in my head? What if cancer is a friend, a gift, a wise teacher?

Byron Katie would often ask, “do you think your body has a better chance of healing when you are at war or at peace?”

I choose to see the blessings. This is why I have been so inspired to share a new story of cancer. One that I wish I heard when I was first diagnosed. I wrote the following article for Reset Retreat ~ I hope you enjoy it!

My greatest yoga teacher: Cancer.

What kind of qualities do you imagine when you think of the BEST yoga teacher? Someone who embodies compassion, awareness, and presence? Someone who challenges your mind and body to bend and move in new and creative ways? Someone who teaches the art of self-love, non-judgment, and how to tap into your inner wisdom?

We all come to yoga for different reasons; we have our favorite classes and teachers. We’ve experienced the side effects of the “yoga buzz” after class…we’re stronger, more open, and gosh darnit – everything on the inside and out just feels awwwwwwesome!

And then BOOM. Life happens.

I’ve been practicing yoga for 20 years and am blessed to call it my career for the past 10. I’ve explored various styles of yoga from Vinyasa to Yoga Therapy to Somatic Movement to Iyengar to Yoga Nidra to Kundalini to Power to Viniyoga…I’ve studied with incredible teachers and felt huge shifts in my life as a result of my practice.

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And then one year ago, life threw me a big surprise right after my 34th birthday: an aggressive form of breast cancer.

Lucky for me, I had cultivated quite the healing “toolbox” for handling stress. In fact, it felt like I had unknowingly been preparing for this moment all of my life.

The most effective tool is The Work of Byron Katie ~ also known as “yoga for the mind.” It’s a way of identifying and questioning thoughts that create stress…ANY kind of stress…relationships, romance, jobs, parenting, fears of the future, health, physical & emotional pain…by exploring these stressful thoughts, I came to discover that when my mind is open, inner peace is possible in any situation.

A different perspective on “illness” was revealed. What if illness happens for our enlightenment? What if it makes my life even better? The inspiration I experienced while contemplating these questions filled me joy and purpose.

Cancer became my greatest yoga teacher, my guru. I made a conscious decision not to “fight” cancer. Instead, I made friends with it, listened to its wisdom, and used it to grow myself in ways I never thought possible. Here are a few of the many lessons…

Cancer teaches me to be present.

I noticed how quickly my mind would jump into the future…and not just any future…a crazy, scary, painful, horror film of a future. And then I’d notice…wait, is this real? Or just a movie? Each and every time I felt fear and stress, my mind had left the present moment. Cancer gave me this continued practice of noticing what is real now: I’m here, healthy, breathing, the sky is blue, the chair is holding me, the medicine is doing its job, the doctors are kind. Reality was always better than the stories in my head. I just get to be present and follow the simple instructions. Whew.

Cancer teaches me to slow down and listen to my body.

As I walked the path of cancer treatment, I created space in my schedule to be present for anything to arise. Living a fast-paced life simply wasn’t possible ~ I was forced to slow down and be. My yoga practice deepened as I would show up to the mat each day ~ I’d breathe with the various sensations that appeared ~ and I’d be led into different stretches and poses. Some days were more active than others. When my body needed to sleep, I let it. When it was hungry, I fed it nourishing food. When it wanted to binge out of Netflix, I let it. When it needed help from others, I asked for it. And I was pretty impressed to watch it continue to teach yoga classes!

Cancer teaches me self-love and acceptance.

My physical appearance changed very quickly ~ my long, mermaid hair disappeared. I lost my curves and my body resembled a c-lovetreeposeskeleton. After surgery, my natural breasts were replaced with tissue expanders. It gave me an opportunity to look at my own beliefs around beauty, body image, and what is “feminine,” and I found that these concepts are just BS. Although it was challenging at times, I learned to be gentle and love myself regardless of my appearance – I even began to embrace the changes. I jokingly referred to myself as my husband’s “little man wife.” I loved the ease and freedom of being bald and am now fascinated with my new anti-gravity boobs! This body will continue to change throughout its lifetime – that’s just what bodies do – and cancer has shown me how to see the blessings. I know that I am so much more than this body.

Cancer teaches me how to open my heart.

For the first time in my life, I was filled with inspiration to share my experience in a big way – in real time – through a blog on my web site. Writing became an incredible form of healing. The unconditional love & support I have received has cracked my heart wide open. People. Are. So. Kind. My relationships have deepened, new connections have been made, and I continue to authentically share my heart. Cancer has given me a new, passionate direction in my career, and it has instilled a strong sense of trust that we live in a friendly universe. I have never been a victim in this process; I am an eternally grateful student.

And the blessings continue.

On September 16th, while leading my first Reset Retreat in the Texas Hill Country – I celebrated the anniversary of my diagnosis with an amazing group of women. Now cancer-free, I affectionately call this day – New Direction Day – the day my life took a beautiful, new direction. We all raised a glass of wine at dinner and cheered! I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate.

So here’s my invitation to you.

Look at the challenges you are facing in life ~ whether it be low back pain, a disability, death of a loved one, an illness, car accident, relationship challenges, a big career change, money issues…how could it be possible that this is the best possible thing for you? What is it teaching you? Patience? Kindness? Slowing down? Speaking up? Asking for help? What are you learning about yourself? What new doors has it opened?

I’m not trying to negate that there are tough times and struggles…this Earth School thing can feel REALLY challenging! I’m inviting you to notice what else may also be going on…open your mind to the gifts that are all around us.

Perhaps you already have the greatest yoga teacher at your feet. Just waiting to be discovered.

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Post Treatment

BIG Update: Post-Treatment Life of Awesomeness

On September 4th, I celebrated my 35th birthday. I think birthdays will officially take on a brand new meaning ~ I’m just so grateful to have one! Now that it’s been almost a year since my diagnosis, I LOVE watching my mind compare this moment to one year ago…right now, I’d be getting ready for my biopsy, and two days after that (September 16th), I’d get the call that would change my life forever.

One year ago, if someone would have told me, “Guess what?!! Those lulu lumps in your boobies & armpit are CANCER and in ONE year, you will have been through 5 months of chemo, lost your mermaid hair, had your natural breasts surgically removed & replaced with boobs-of-steel tissue expanders, and floated through 5 1/2 weeks of radiation therapy…” I would have responded: “YOU CRAZY.” And then if you said, “And even more surprising, is that you will actually ENJOY a lot of it. It will open your heart in ways you never thought possible. It will open doors that you never knew existed. It will give you strength, purpose, presence, and gratitude. You will feel an enormous amount of love and support from so many. It will be one of the greatest gifts of your life.” I’d say, “WHAT? NOW YOU REALLY CRAY CRAY.”

Crazy. Awesome. Beautiful. Life.

After my last radiation treatment!
After my last radiation treatment!

So to catch you up…I am officially DONE with all of the major parts of cancer treatment! Radiation was so much easier than I expected. I’ll write a separate blog piece sharing details, but right now my skin has healed well and it feels as soft as a baby’s ass.

Last Friday, my plastic surgeon leveled out my fembot boobs so that they are the same size for once! I have to say, they look pretty darn good. Still indestructible ~ when you hug me, it feels like I am wearing armor. I’m having fun planning out the final surgery which will take place sometime next Spring or Summer. The surgeon usually waits 8-12 months after radiation which allows extra time for the skin to fully heal ~ it can sometimes continue to tighten and shrink. Lots of stretching and I apply a homemade cream w/Frankincense, Lemon, Argan, Jojoba, and Vitamin E oils daily.

I had another ultrasound to check out the cyst on my ovary…I’m ecstatic to report that not only is it nothing to worry about, my doctor doesn’t even see a need to continue monitoring it. What?!!! So that’s done too.

I have begun taking Tamoxifen – a drug used to prevent reoccurrence for hormone-positive cancers. It is a systemic treatment (meaning it treats the whole body) and if there are any remaining cancer cells, it will bind their mouths closed so that they can not feed on estrogen. No food = No life.

I had mixed feelings about taking any type of drug for 5-10 years, so I did my best to explore a well-researched alternative. Each doctor and naturopath I talked with had the same answer: there is no alternative. Because I am young and know this body is awesome at producing estrogen – aka “cancer candy” – it is very important to me to address this part of the cancer treatment plan. The way I look at it, Tamoxifen is the best option available for me now and I’m open to that changing. My oncologist put it nicely, “I don’t like to tell anyone that they will be taking a drug for 10 years…because we don’t know…new research could show up or circumstances may change…let’s just try it out and see how you do.” When I got the bottle from the pharmacy, I laughed out loud when I saw the pills. I was picturing some kind of huge scary, horse pill…it just looks like an innocent, little baby aspirin. So far, no noticeable side effects other than I’ve been getting a little hot flashy at night – and this is also summer in Texas, so who doesn’t?

Bachelorette Weekend
Bachelorette Weekend

August was incredible. I gifted myself a month-long sabbatical to celebrate the end of treatment. Zero doctor visits…I was just a regular gal living an amazingly free-flowing life of travel! The trip started with a few days in NYC with my sister-in-law, Annie, and then we joined our soon-to-be sister-in-law, Emma, for her bachelorette party in Brooklyn. We drank wine, ate great food, and danced until 3am! I was pretty impressed this body kept up with the girls!

 

My new friend
My new friend

We had lunch one day at Smorgasburg – an outdoor flea market with about 100 eclectic food tents. I was standing in line for some Vegetarian Venetian wrappy things and asked the woman in front of me if she would take my picture. She asked what brought me to Brooklyn and I told her that I was there for a bachelorette party and then blurted out that I also just finished a year of cancer treatment. She said, “Oh my god – ME TOO!” She just had her final reconstruction surgery and she asked if I wanted to feel them. Immediately, I said “YES!” and within seconds of meeting, I’m feeling up a stranger’s boobs with people all around us. Ahhhhh….I just love how going through this experience breaks down all boundaries. PS – they felt AHHHHHMAZING!

After the high energy of NYC, I took a train to Westpoint to stay with my girlfriend, Krissy, and her sweet baby. We’ve known each other since 3rd grade and had so much fun lounging around, cooking meals, and reminiscing about all of the crazy things we use to do when we were “young.” And how we still feel just as awesomely immature. Time is a funny concept.

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Yoga in Boston

Then back to the train to Boston where I stayed with my brother, his fiancée, and my furry img_4567Niece. They just moved into a cool new neighborhood and we spent our days walking, doing yoga, and eating yet more amazing food. I abandoned my diet a bit and treated myself to local fresh breads, organic coffee, and some kickass desserts. And oh, pizza…how I’ve missed you. To my surprise, I felt really good! My energy came back although I would often take an afternoon siesta.

I then hopped on a bus to Burlington, VT, where I stayed with my friend, Todd Smith. He is also a facilitator for The Work of Byron Katie and hosts personal retreats at his home – I can attest first-hand that WOW, what an amazing home they have! And He and his partner are wonderful hosts. We ate Ayurvedic meals and at night we took a swim in Lake Champlain under the full moon. It felt cleansing and purifying.

The next day, I moved into the finale of my sabbatical: a week-long retreat called “Love is the Power” led by Tom Compton in Quebec. It was hosted at the country home of one of sweetest families I know – Sarah Maya, Matthieu, and Zia. Another great friend, Susan, helped to organize the retreat. Sarah Maya and Susan reached out to me when I was diagnosed and offered to do The Work with me whenever I needed support – and I said yes. In all of my “People are kind” experiences throughout the cancer journey, this one was over-the-top generous. They all invited me to join the retreat as a gift. And what an incredible gift it was on so many levels.

Quebec Retreat
Quebec Retreat

In such a loving and supportive environment, I was able to explore deep fears around cancer returning, judgements about me choosing conventional medicine
over doing all alternative, the fear of death, and much more. Vegetarian meals, walking meditation, dancing like no-ones watching…and I even led a few morning yoga classes in nature. It was the perfect experience for me – mind, body, & soul. Perhaps I will share more in a separate post (OK, I have a billion blog post ideas I want to write!!!), but one key takeaway I am continuing to explore is “who would I be without the label of right and wrong?” This was an invitation from Tom and it’s definitely taking root in me. I notice so much of my life is lived out of needing to know “the right way” and “the right answers.”

What if it’s ALL right? ALL good? ALL Love?

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Quebec Retreat – Yoga

After the retreat, Susan and I spent a few nights in the amazing city of Montreal before I flew home. I loved hearing French every day and am already plotting my return. Although I experienced sadness to leave, I was also excited to return to my “new” life in Dallas. No more daily doctor appointments – just some follow-ups here and there. Back to a new reality.

A new chapter has definitely begun. And the universe has already given me some really cool opportunities! I was asked to create yoga videos for CanSurround, a web-based tool designed to help with the mental & emotional journey through cancer. The videos just went live today!!! There are three: 10-min Yoga for Deep Sleep, 20-min Chair Yoga for Peace, & 30-min Yoga for Strength, Flexibility, & Presence. I had so much fun creating them with my own cancer experience in mind, and I hope it will help many others move through their journeys with more grace and ease.

I have also been asked to be a Yoga Coach for Reset Retreat, a company of like-minded ladies who create life-changing retreats across the globe. The first one is THIS weekend in Texas Hill Country and it’s sold out! And I just get to show up and teach the yoga!? Click here to read a recent interview I had with the company. It shares how I came to yoga, my experience with cancer, and how I weave in The Work of Byron Katie into my yoga teachings and life.

Speaking of The Work, I also just started my first e-course as a trainer in the Institute for The Work. I am co-training with a dear friend, Robyn ~ another amazing facilitator who reached out to support me when I was diagnosed. Travis and I will also be staffing the 9-day School for The Work in Ojai in the fall. My life is definitely calling me to share this work in many different platforms and I just love seeing what shows up for me.

So..yeah…life is good.!!!!

Bringing sexy back...
Bringing sexy back…

 

 

Surgery Complications, Surgery Recovery

When Complications Become Blessings

Once I began to move and groove my arms again after surgery, I noticed a tight band in my left armpit. I assumed it was some sort of tendon that was shortened in the axilla surgery (where 6 lymph nodes were removed). It restricted my movement and was incredibly painful ~ it felt like a tight piano string from my armpit down through my forearm and wrist. I showed my plastic surgeon and he encouraged me to keep stretching and massaging it with oil. Believing a gentle approach is always best, I was slow & mindful with it.

AxWebSyndrome
Cording in Armpit

A week later, I met with my breast surgeon and she examined it with a concerned look on her face. She said it was a fibrous band and needs immediate attention. I later learned that it’s also called “Axillary Web Syndrome” or “Cording.” Isn’t it funny how when a medical name is put to something, it sounds so much scarier? It’s a rare complication after a Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy or Axillary Lymph Node Dissection where scar tissue forms at the surgery site and then long, thick, painful cords form down the arm or chest. What’s weird is that they do not know for sure what the cords are made of ~ it could be hardening of the lymphatic channels (thus creating a greater risk of lymphedema), blood vessels, or nerves. It can last a couple of months or a lifetime. Although there isn’t much research yet, the therapy to address cording is still the same: #stretchandmovethisshit.com.

As the breast surgeon wrote the referral for physical therapy, she said that I could not begin radiation until I had full range of motion on the left side. You need to hold your arms above your head for 10-15 minutes during radiation. She said that she wants me doing handstands at our next appointment in 3 weeks. Gulp. I was also receiving weekly “boob fills” from my plastic surgeon which made the cording even tighter. It was a pretty intense process for me, yet also very cool to see my boobs grow every week! (more on this later)

After I left the office, I began to feel a tightening in my stomach and throat. Then Anger appeared for a visit. My internal dialogue went something like this“Are you kidding me? Another damn thing to deal with on top of everything else? I’m just starting to feel “normal” again and now THIS! And why wasn’t this band thingy listed in the MASSIVE amount of paperwork I had to read before surgery?!!! I signed off on EVERY possible side effect/complication, including DEATH!!! They didn’t prepare me for this!” And then Despair started bargaining, “I just want a break…please. No more universal tests. Enough. White flag is up.” A little whisper from Curiosity snuck in: “Hey, what if this is a good thing? You never know what cool things this could lead to.” Anger + Despair + Depression ganged up on Curiosity: “SHUT-UP Ms. Try-to-look-on-the-bright-side-of-everything and just admit it, this SUCKS BUTT.”

So Anger’s gang won for a few hours.

On the car ride home, I vented to my mom and my brother on the phone. Then at home to my husband who extended an invitation to inquiry (The Work of Byron Katie). Exploring two thoughts in particular really began to shift my experience:

Cording is going to make my life more difficult.

The surgeon didn’t prepare me for this complication.

Through inquiry, I came to discover I had no proof that cording would make life more difficult. In fact ~ I had more proof it would make it easier. There was nothing “new” I needed to learn ~ I had an expert physical therapist for that. And even though my job as a Yoga Therapist is working with bodies and helping them heal, I felt a little nervous with my own body after this surgery. So, now that’s my physical therapist’s job! In fact, it’s quite easy for me ~ I just show up and do what she says, ask questions, learn, repeat. Hmmmm….maybe this cording thing is better than I thought.

Through questioning my thoughts about the surgeon, I saw how well she did prepare me for this situation ~ the moment she saw it, she recognized it, and sent me directly to physical therapy. She was also very encouraging about me moving my arms right after surgery ~ actually, while still IN the hospital ~ I may have babied my arms more than necessary. “I didn’t prepare me for this complication” is truer ~ and when I was believing my thoughts, I was full of blame, anger, and guilt. I saw images of the cords multiplying until I have zero use of my arm for the rest of my life. They felt so solid and permanent. Plus, where did the label “complication” come from? My mind.

Without these thoughts, I hear a sweet, calm, open-minded “follow the simple instructions” voice. Curiosity steps in (ie our true nature) and an openness to seeing the blessings unfolds. And that’s what I did.

Placing the blame or judgment on someone else leaves you powerless to change your experience; taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgments gives you the power to change them. ~ Byron Katie

Medical City has the STAR Program ~ a branch of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation that specializes solely in working with cancer patients. After my first session, I was blown away by its awesomeness. It turns out physical therapy is super similar to yoga therapy and it’s paid for by insurance! Guess what cording led to? Free private yoga therapy with one of the coolest therapists ever, Tiffany. Her mother is a breast cancer survivor and she is a complete expert in this field. I freaking LOVE it! I’ve learned so much about my body, anatomy, alignment, stretching, and strengthening. I now even incorporate some of the new moves with my private yoga clients. Yep, it’s actually made me better at my job.BethanyTiffanyPT

We started with a lot of slow, deep stretching, followed by her manually stretching and massaging the cords (oh yes, more cords appeared!) ~ it was extremely painful at first…but the hurts-so-good pain that you can tell is making a difference. She also gave me a daily home practice that I followed to a T and incorporated into my own yoga practice. I loved getting creative at how I could blend it all together.

She had warned me that the cords can make a crunchy noise and even snap as they break up ~ this is a good thing. I experienced a small snap at home during self massage and then during one PT session, there was an extremely loud POP in my armpit as she was stretching me. It was the oddest sensation…like a firework exploded in my armpit…it actually wasn’t very painful in the moment but then the remembering of the unfamiliar sound & sensation led to an unplanned outburst of, “holy shit, fuck, shitballz!” in a room full of strangers. 😉

Within a few weeks, I experienced a drastic shift in my body ~ I had gained full range of motion back along with the confidence to move and use my arms in all daily activities. The cording was still present, but I felt unattached to the outcome – I saw so clearly how I could live a full life with and without this cording. The cording just keeps me in my yoga practice. (See – The Work of Byron Katie keeps working its magic!) And then within two month, the cording left me.

I chose to continue physical therapy as long as I could, which included through most of radiation…we began to work on more strengthening and flexibility in my upper body and core. I honestly think I have even better posture and more strength than I ever have before. I am also convinced that Tiffany takes pleasure in torturing me…perhaps this is “payback” for all of the times I have dug my elbows into clients trap muscles and butt muscles in thai massage & yoga. Well, IT WORKS!

Now I have “graduated” from the Star Program and I HIGHLY recommend physical therapy for ANYONE recovering from surgery or experiencing side effects from treatment. There’s no need to wait for a complication to appear, most doctors can write a referral for you if you request it. And most forget to mention this option to you. I’ll be doing it after next year’s reconstruction surgery (ie – Build-Bethany’s-Beautiful-Boobies Surgery).

So here I am, a strong, flexible, and even more educated yogini…thanks to that sweet little “complication” which is really just a huge blessing. The next time I face a similar challenge, I now have more proof that the universe is kind. It all happens FOR me.

Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don’t have to like it… it’s just easier if you do. ~ Byron Katie

 

 

 

Surgery Recovery, Uncategorized

The Gift of a Butterfly

About 2 1/2 weeks after surgery, I received a very special gift from a client & dear friend, Shelby. It was a small plant with a green gem-looking stone hanging over it. She had said that she searched all over for it and thought it was perfect for what I was going through. When I got it, I thought the green stone had some type of healing property ~ I set it on my kitchen island.

I was just starting to feel so much better – physically, mentally, emotionally. Pain was being managed really well (I still claim Midol as the drug that changed everything!) and I was starting to move and exercise my arms again. I noticed that the left side (where I had the armpit surgery) was more restricted & painful than the right. I could feel this thick tendon-like thing in my armpit and down my arm. I showed the plastic surgeon and he said to stretch more. And although it was painful, I continued to gently stretch and move my arms the best that I could. It hurt. But ok, trusting the process.

The next morning, I walked into the kitchen and froze. The green stone on the plant was now a huge, gorgeous monarch butterfly. Just chilling in the middle of my kitchen. My entire being lit up in excitement! Oh my God, what is this? Where did it come from? Turns out the green “stone” was a butterfly cocoon! IMG_3867

Shelby didn’t know this, but butterflies are kind of my thing. I have always loved them and felt a special connection with them. I wrote a poem in 8th grade titled, “I think of myself as a butterfly” and drew a picture of a woman with butterfly wings ~ it made the cover of a booklet distributed at school. I re-wrote the poem when I quit my corporate advertising job and moved to Spain.

For my wedding, we had a butterfly release. We lived at the retreat property where we were married for 4 years and created/ran the business ~ on our last day, we were down by the lake and a butterfly crawled onto our hands.

As I approached surgery, I made the decision that if it were my time to leave this earth as a Bethany, I would return as a butterfly. And I would definitely play adorable butterfly tricks on people and mess with them. In an effort not to freak anyone out before my surgery, I decided to keep this reincarnation plan to myself.

I brought the butterfly gift outside to my balcony and sat in meditation. Before I closed my eyes, I noticed a dragonfly had landed on the railing to my right. This sent “holy shit this is so meant to be” chills down my spine. You see, Shelby has also been deeply affected by cancer ~ she has been a caregiver for 3 of her family members’ journeys with cancer. Her son passed away at the age of 6. Her stories of his courage and wisdom through the process astonished me. She shared with me that there was a point when she was feeling torn about his treatment plan and Clayton said, “Don’t worry Mommy, don’t you know the light is in the doctors too? The light is in everyone.” This brilliant little 6-year old opened my eyes and heart to a new way of looking at surgery and it completely soothed any remaining nerves. Shelby and her family created a foundation – The Clayton Dabney Foundation – to support children with cancer. She said that after he died, dragonflies began appearing in the oddest places. They knew in their hearts, it was Clayton.

Remembering this brought tears. I closed my eyes and breathed. I could feel the warmth of the sun on my face. The sound of the wind whistling through the trees. A swell of gratitude overcame me. Look what I’ve done. Look what I’ve been through. And I’m ok! I’m here. Really here. I began to gently move my arms ~ opening and closing them like wings. When I opened my eyes, the butterfly was doing the same. Stretching her wings for the very first time. The dragonfly continued to watch. More tears fell from my eyes. This is my rebirth. I again remembered a deep purpose-filled connection to this journey and to myself.

I texted Shelby in crazy excitement to share my story along with a photo of Clayton the dragonfly. She said that she had no doubt in her mind that Clayton was with me. I then went for a nature walk with an extra pep in my step. When I returned, the butterfly and the dragonfly were gone.

Later that afternoon, I had a post-op meeting with my breast surgeon and I learned that the arm band thing had a name: Axillary Web Syndrome. An extremely rare complication that can occur after surgery and could last a few months or forever.

Crap.

Can my butterfly come back?

Coming up….”When Complications become Blessings”

Surgery Recovery

Self-Discovery while in Recovery

On Wednesday, April 20th, I was released from the hospital after my double mastectomy. Before leaving, I successfully completed the staff’s requirements for discharge: (1) walk by myself — I was rocking slow-motion laps around the hospital the day after surgery, (2) go to the bathroom on my own —Well, you know that story and thank the heavens that that part of my body started working again, and (3) give myself a shower — This took some creativity ~ especially with the drains & limited range of movement ~ but hey, when obstacles arrive ~ creative inspiration is born.

I was wheeled out of the hospital with my stuffed donkey and flowers in hand, and entrusted to my two primary caregivers: Sweet Hubby Travis and Superwoman Mommy. The hardest part was finally over. Or was it?

The first 10 days of recovery had many ups and downs. There were moments of “fuck this shit, I’d rather die than feel this pain anymore” and moments of “wow, I have never felt this loved and supported.” The whole experience turned out to be quite an invitation to look at stressful thoughts that hold me back from self love.

My Relationship with Medicine & Pain

Medicine (in the form of drugs) and I have had a bipolar past. Sometimes I love and appreciate it. Sometimes I fear and curse it. Before this whole cancer thing, I had the privilege of experiencing years of intense migraines. I tried numerous alternative approaches for healing — acupuncture, homeopathy, emotional clearing, different cleanses, various diets, yoga therapy, meditation, sex/orgasms, chiropractics, osteopathy, natural hormone therapy, essential oils, & a few other ways I’m too embarrassed to mention…some things occasionally brought relief, but nothing was lasting. Over-the-counter medicine really did help, especially if I took it right when I first felt the signs of a migraine. But I still really, really resented taking it. And prescription meds scared the crap out of me.

Then I found a 6-week course with Certified Facilitators that dealt with the topic of “Pain & Illness” using The Work of Byron Katie.

The course allowed me to fully explore my thoughts around medicine, illness, doctors, pain, blame, fear…it was life-changing and laid the groundwork for how I was able to walk into a cancer diagnosis & treatment with more peace & clarity. My core beliefs were:

Medicine is bad for me.

I want the pain to go away.

I can’t handle it.

The pain will get worse.

The pain will last forever.

Through bringing these thoughts (and many others) to inquiry, I discovered just how much more physical pain this mental activity brought to my body. When I believed these thoughts, I was full of terror & panic; I’d start frantically searching for a “forever” cure…my body would tense up ~ especially in my neck, jaw, forehead, & shoulders. My breath would shorten or even disappear. I would start to see me having to cancel the rest of the activities of the day, or maybe the week…all of the things I love to do just vanished. I felt like a victim, life was unfair. I saw images of the future as being in a lifetime of pain & agony ~ death being the best option. I would get easily angered by others, especially when they offered advice or tried to help. They haven’t had pain like this – they have no idea what they’re talking about!

I’m sorry, but how could you NOT get a migraine believing all of this shit!?

Without the thoughts, I noticed that I became more curious about the first sensations felt before a migraine. Pain now became a sensation. I also saw the story “I’m going to get a migraine” and it was met with “can I absolutely know it’s true?” Don’t know. Not yet. I was then fully available to take care of myself in the moment, which often looked like laying down in a dark room with an ice pack over my eyes, breathing, noticing & relaxing any physical sensations of tightness in my body. I’d notice I would reach for medicine or not. And often did. When I took it, I invited the medicine in with love and gratitude. I saw it as a healing, friend. Whether it worked or didn’t, wasn’t my business. I was just doing my part. I focused on the present moment instead of getting caught up in what might happen in the future. I became a witness of the thoughts that floated by. Don’t know, don’t know, don’t know. It felt simpler, kinder. I recognized that all along, I had the wisdom to take care of myself.

The turnarounds were truer…here are a few examples:

Medicine is good for me. Rather than be in days of pain which can send a “fight or flight” stress response in the body, medicine often alleviated the pain within 20 minutes. It allowed me to spend the rest of the day doing things I love. My body felt calmer and more peaceful. My thinking about medicine is bad for me. Yes, seeing it as an enemy – especially after taking some – only created more stress and panic in my mind & body.

I don’t want the pain to go away. I began to see pain as a gift – it’s a teacher. Actually, it’s my greatest yoga teacher. It helps me to slow down, get in touch with my body, breath, & take care of myself. It introduced me to many different forms of healing and I’ve made life-long connections with others. It has helped me to become a more compassionate yoga teacher & person ~ I now have a reference point for intense pain. Plus, I know exactly what to do if a client has a headache or migraine…I’ve been told my hands are magical 🙂

I can handle it. Well, I can because I did. I always have. There has been absolutely NO proof of me ever “not handling it.” Now, “handling it” can take many forms: going to a doctor, taking meds, breathing, sleeping all day, freaking the F out, crying, netflix therapy, movement, stillness, complaining about it, it’s all welcome.

The pain won’t get worse/the pain will get better. Yes, it always has done this too. And at times when it’s not my experience, it shows me to take a different direction ~ go back to the doctor or try something new. I always find that time heals which leads to my next turnaround…

The pain will not last forever. It NEVER has. Nothing is permanent. But the mind will say it over and over again. I often love to repeat the mantra, this too shall pass.

These realizations were monumental and I truly began to experience pain and medicine as a gift, a privilege. And the pain in my head turned out to be way worse than the pain in reality. Bonus…I started to get migraines less often and needed less medicine. Pretty cool side effect of doing The Work, eh?

I have a friend who didn’t want to take medication. And I said, “God is everything, but not medicine?” God is medicine too. So today she sees it’s a privilege to take medicine. She knows that whether it’s working or not is not her business. The medicine says, “take once a day.” That’s all she has to know. It’s written on the bottle. ~ Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change the World

Finding Self Love

So with this foundation of inquiry and having made friends with medicine, you would think I would have floated through recovery in complete bliss. Yeah, I kind of thought that too. Plus, I was sort of excited to take hard core pain meds. As someone who never experimented with drugs (other than mary jane), I was pretty curious about what it might be like…I heard words like “euphoric” ~ cool! Cancer bonus!

Well, I didn’t breeze through it. Every single thought mentioned above came back with a vengeance. It was like, “Oh really, you think you got this pain thing down? You think you’re totally ok with medicine? I’ll show you biotch!!!” The physical pain I experienced in those first 10 days (in certain moments) was so freaking intense that I could not see the possibility of anything other than…ouch…it hurts. help. ouch. it hurts. so bad. fuck this.

And then I noticed something underneath, which was even more painful: I felt like a complete and utter failure. I shouldn’t be in so much pain. I should be handling this more peacefully. When I took medicine, I hated myself. When I didn’t take medicine, I loved myself. My love was completely conditional. The thoughts kept multiplying until…

I had no choice but to surrender. Surrender “working on myself,” “being evolved,” “being peaceful at healing.” Fuck it. Take the drugs. What? Those drugs weren’t working? Increase the dosage. Go back to the doctor. Take different drugs. Sleep. Cry. What? It hurts like hell to cry, sneeze, or cough? Good. Do it anyways because that’s what’s happening. What? Your mind is distracted and doesn’t feel as much pain while binge watching Netflix? Awesome. Watch more.

Why can’t all of this be self love? Why can’t this be spiritual too?

So once I got over myself, which is really me getting over my thinking of how I should be in this recovery thing…I not only was able to love myself more, I also had some other discoveries…

  • Even though I had pain, there were so many things I was capable of doing! I could go on walks, eat amazing meals, spend time with my family, crack jokes, sing karaoke, have deep heart-felt conversations, post messages/pics on facebook. Even though it took about 90 minutes, I could get myself ready for the day – shower, put on clothes, make-up, cleaned my drains. The pain (again) turned out to be worse in my mind, than in reality.
  • On day 10, I decided to take over-the-counter Midol for my pain because the hard core stuff just didn’t seem to be working as well as I thought it would. This is what had worked before for migraines and what do you know – it ended up being my MIRACLE DRUG. It alleviated my chest pain within 30 minutes and for the first time in 10 days, I felt so much relief and hope.
  • I completely reconnected with my inner child. I loved asking someone to hold my hand. Cuddle me. Pet me. It was my favorite thing in the entire world. And guess what? Someone was always happy to do it. And if I was by myself, I cuddled my donkey and blanket. Yes, I’m 34 and I freaking loved being a baby again. Still doing it to this day (and I’m not in pain).
  • I got to witness my superhuman-caretaker-of-the-year mom in full force! She gave me my meds on time, cooked for me, cleaned the house, held me, helped me vent & cry, and was truly there for me in my darkest moment. This moment was when we realized 5 days worth of meals had yet to exit my body…constipation was one of the medicine’s side effects and I stupidly refused to take the poop drugs in the hospital (hey – I totally rocked handling this side effect with all natural stuff during chemo)…let’s just say after an evening of agony, tears, doing yoga over a toilet, bargaining with God to please just let me poop…mom came to the rescue with a morning enema. I mean, seriously – is that unconditional love or what? (I can see my mom and husband cringing at this very moment…did you really just make that info public? Yes, I did. Because it’s now hilllllllllariousssssss.)
  • I learned to depend on & appreciate my husband more. I’ve prided myself on being an independent, do-it-all myself kind of gal and this whole experience started to shift my relationship with my husband. After my mom left, I had some major anxiety about how in the world we would survive. I had also taken 4 weeks off of work which financially concerned me at times. I worried that I would become a burden to Travis and this recovery time would put a huge strain on our marriage. It was a great thought to question and without  the thought, I got to hear Travis’ heart and how it was his honor to help me in this way. Letting him do things for me and pay for things was his way of loving me. I love that he thought he could do everything for me on top of working full-time and taking care of our Godson. I let him and I also began to outsource which meant….
  • I said YES to help from others. I was unable to have full use of my arms for weeks so when others asked if I needed help, I said YES…can you bring me lunch tomorrow? Yes, can you please bring your adorable dog over for dog therapy? Yes, will you go for a walk with me? Yes, can you do The Work with me? People are so kind. They want to help. It feels good to help. I know this because that’s how I feel when I do things for others. It’s why I love my work so much. Well, it was time for me to say yes to being on the receiving end. After all, “let yourself be pampered by others” was in the doctor’s orders.
  • I got really creative & resourceful. I discovered that I could open the fridge and dishwasher with my feet! My core strength was used to sit up and lay down. I could cook simple meals if Travis left the frying pan on the stove. Travis put morning juices and nut milks in smaller bottles I could lift. I also live in walking distance to fantastic restaurants and Whole Foods. Instead of using the breathing device given to me by the hospital to expand my lungs (which totally looked like a penis pump), I got into singing karaoke on Apple TV’s “Sing” App. (PS – apparently I have a love for disney songs…Frozen’s “Let it go” and Aladdin’s “A Whole New World” became daily rituals for lung expansion allowing me to toss out the penis pump.)

So yes, there was a lot of self-discovery during recovery and it still continues – I am now 8 weeks out and am feeling pretty darn good. So if you’re ever in pain or finding yourself in a situation when you need to lean on others, here’s my advice to you:

Stop trying to be holy and take the drugs, yo. 

Question your thoughts about pain.

Say YES to help.

Let yourself be a child again.

Notice the blessings and all of things you CAN do.

Get creative.

And this is all still a practice for me too. Let me know what you discover. xoxo