Breast Reconstruction, Cancer Diagnosis, finding peace with cancer, Medical Updates, Post Treatment, the work of byron katie and cancer, yoga therapy and breast cancer

Update: Boobieversary, Cancer Camp, Retreats, & Book

Hiya friends! It’s been a while since I’ve posted a full update on what’s going on in my cancer world. I’m ecstatic to report: NOTHING. Ahhhhh, sweet nothing. Nothing new…nothing crazy…boring is my new fav thing when it comes to cancer. I am now 2 years cancer-free baby! Can you believe it?

It’s 6-month follow-up time. I met with my breast surgeon which entailed a very thorough boobie exam (is it strange that I wanted it to last longer?). I made sure to contort my body in various ways to highlight all of the weirdAF stuff that I feel around my breasts: lumpy tissue, band-like things in my armpit and under my breast, tightness, etc. I LOVE that ZERO stress lives in me about these new bodily discoveries. Because of my ongoing practice of inquiry, my mind just can’t put a scary label on any of it.

My job is so simple: bring body + weird stuff to the experts. Await the next direction.

The breast surgeon confirmed that it’s all just scar tissue and that everything is healing beautifully. I can continue to go to town with self-massage and stretching to break up the scar tissue. This month, I’ll also have follow-ups with my oncologist (bloodwork + feel up) and with my gynecologist (MORE feel ups + vaginal ultrasound which monitors the uterine lining and cyst on my ovary). Man, these boobies sure are seeing a lot of action! Speaking of….

Happy 1-year Boobieversary to Me!

Today, on May the 4th be with you, my girls turn 1. I am astonished by how much they have changed during their first year of life. They now let me sleep peacefully through the night from all angles – even on my stomach! They’ve adapted well to my active lifestyle and also know how to chilllllll out. They are beginning to look more like identical(ish) twins rather than fraternal googley-eyed sisters. They love touch – especially nightly massages with coconut & essential oils. They have their own personalities and quirks – I’ve just learned to accept and appreciate them for who they are and for what they’re not (full of cancer).

Cancer Camp, Retreats, & The Book

I took my girls to another cancer camp a few weeks ago in Austin where they learned to surf! Yes, surfing in Austin is a thang. The trip was led by First Descents, the same organization who hosted the week-long whitewater kayaking trip last summer. It was such a treat to hang with a group of young, fun cancer survivor/thrivers, spend time in nature at a gorgeous glamping spot, and then attempt the art of surfing. 

YO…surfing is HARD! In the few times I actually got up, I became so freaking excited…that I would then again lose my balance and bite it.

It. was. so. fun.

We are all planning to have a reunion kayaking trip in June.

Last weekend was our 2nd annual Inner Peace Retreat ~ a weekend of yoga, The Work of Byron Katie, organic meals, and a sweet, sweet community. The location was serene and beautiful, and I am so impressed by everyone’s willingness to explore the stressful beliefs systems that keep us from enjoying the beauty of life. I’ve been keeping retreats local for the past few years while going through treatment and I’m now inspired to get back to international retreats. Costa Rica always calls to me and we’ll see what else is possible!

This Monday starts a new online class series called “Making Peace w/Disease” which I co-facilitate with my friend, Helena, who has HIV. Like me, she has used The Work of Byron Katie as a way to experience disease as a wise teacher, a gift. There is still space if you’d like to join!

I love my work. It feels off to even call it that.

Going through treatment has helped me hone in my practice and career around Yoga & The Work and I’m loving that it’s becoming more and more mobile. This summer will be spent in Colorado where I can both continue to work with private clients over phone/skype AND finish my book. Also leaving free time for hiking, kayaking, and hanging with family & friends (and avoiding the crazy Texas summer heat! Woot! Woot!).

The writing process is a fascinating mental adventure and if you’ve been reading my blog, you know how healing it’s been for me to write and share. Well, it’s pretty darn funny that the moment you put the label of “book” on writing…the inner critic sure does come out to play. And yell. And terrify me. Luckily, the content of what I am writing about – how to find peace & joy with cancer – also serves me in dealing with the crazy places my mind goes about writing a book.

It’s a waste of my time! Nobody is going to read it! I’m a horrible writer! 

Awwww….Can I absolutely know it’s true? Nope. Do you know what is true for me? I feel called to write it. I have no clue what will come of it. I just know I need to write it. What happens next is not up to me.

I notice some days the writing flows out like (grade A, unfiltered) maple syrup onto warm, fluffy pancakes (gluten-free + organic of course). Other days, I impatiently stare at a blank word document on a screen. Bueller? Bueller?

There are times I LOVE what comes out of my head onto paper. Wow, she’s amaaaaazing. Other times…not so much. And yet, the writing continues.

As for the future of this blog – I’m open! I may continue to write monthly posts or maybe I’ll put it on hold until the book is finished. It’s not like me to “not have a plan” so that’s exactly what I’ll be doing. Challenge accepted.

Any questions or topics you’d like discussed? If so, feel free to post in the comments or email me at bethany@bethanywebb.com. Sending LoVe to you this summer!!!

xoxo,

Bethany

Work with Me

Schedule a Private Session over Phone or Skype

Create a Customized Workshop or Retreat

Join Making Peace w/Disease Online Series: May 7-June 11

 

Related Blog Posts

Diagnosis = New Direction

HOW would you LIVE if you knew you were dying?

Diagnostic Testing without Stressing

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Cancer Diagnosis, finding peace with cancer, Inquiry, mental and emotional support for cancer, the work of byron katie and cancer, yoga therapy and breast cancer

The Work of Byron Katie and Cancer

I was asked by the Institute for The Work of Byron Katie (ITW) to share my experience with using The Work in my cancer journey and also share how I’m now moving this powerful form of inquiry into the world…below is the piece I wrote. If you or anyone you know is suffering from any type of diagnosis – and you’re ready for a way out of the pain – I would LOVE to work with you. For private sessions and customized workshops or retreats, email me at Bethany@BethanyWebb.com.

The Work & Cancer

In 2015, I felt on top of the world! I had just finished ITW’s Certified Facilitator Training and was ready to launch into a new career combining Yoga & The Work.

But life had different plans. Just after my 34th birthday, my greatest teacher arrived instead: Cancer.

Lucky for me, I had cultivated quite the healing “toolbox” for handling stress. In fact, I felt like I had unknowingly been preparing for this moment all of my life. Thanks to these skills, I was able to immediately drop into an unwavering state of peace and gratitude.

Just kidding! Nope. At first, I threw every single peace tool out the window and turned to the art of freaking out, ugly crying, self-pity, and depression.

After exhausting myself with this method – I just had to make sure self-torture and suffering didn’t work for me – I started to take all of my stressful thoughts about cancer to inquiry. I was amazed to discover that in a very short period of time, the nightmare transformed into a blessing. I was actually EXCITED about cancer. Whaaat?

It became clear to me—I’m not here to fight cancer. I am here to make friends with it, listen to its wisdom, to learn from it, evolve & grow. What if illness happens for our enlightenment? What if it makes my life even better? Cancer became my guru and has given me the ultimate invitation to LIVE this practice.

While undergoing 2 years of treatment (which I now refer to as The School of Cancer), I observed how the mental journey of cancer touches every aspect of life: health, body image, physical pain, relationships, sex, finances, career, parenting, creativity, spirituality, death. Beliefs like this invaded my mind: “Cancer prevents me from living a full life. There is something wrong with me. Treatment is poisonous to my body. I want the pain to go away. I need the doctors to cure me. I am a burden to others. I will die a slow, painful death. That child should know I’m a girl, not a boy.”

Bringing these stressful stories to inquiry through self-facilitation, calling the Do The Work Helpline, and working with countless facilitator friends – is where I have found true freedom from cancer. The overwhelming support from ITW has cracked my heart wide open.

What. A. Community!!!

Schooled by My Guru, Cancer

I love how The Work provides a compassionate inner support system; it’s always available to lift me out of suffering. When I wasn’t under the influence of BS (Belief Systems), I was able to meet each phase of treatment with presence, gratitude, and humor. Here are just a few of the many lessons from my guru.

Do you know what happens when a clear mind goes through the cancer journey? It is free to enjoy the ride…

Moving The Work in The World

Writing has been a huge avenue of sharing and healing for me. I chronicle my journey – from pre-diagnosis to life after cancer – in “My Guru, Cancer” blog and am also working on my first BOOK! Click below for the top blog posts, and heads up—I cuss like a sailor 😉

Mental Medicine: The Work of Byron Katie

How I Found Peace During The Waiting Game

“The Cancer is Spreading” ~ is it true?

A Different Kind of Breast Cancer Awareness

Diagnostic Testing without Stressing

What If Fear is Just a Fart?

It is a privilege to work with people affected by cancer via private sessions, workshops, and online classes. Through free “Mental Medicine Workshops,” I have brought The Work into Cancer Support Centers in Texas and hope to expand beyond. The response is so inspiring.

Some amazing connections have been made at our ITW Convention. One is with Helena Montelius, who discovered her own peace and freedom with HIV thanks to The Work. We have joined forces to offer an online class series called “Making Peace w/Disease through The Work of Byron Katie.” It’s for anyone with a chronic condition – from allergies to cancer to HIV to any physical injury. It’s incredible to see that regardless of the condition, the same type of stressful thoughts go through our minds. We get to discover that we are not alone, and there is a way out of suffering. Next series starts May 7th.

“The title for this class is very well chosen, I am definitely more at peace with my disease. I have seen, through our different inquiries, that resisting and being at war with my illness just creates more suffering. Helena and Bethany are very skillful facilitators. They establish a climate of honesty and acceptance that helps everyone to share and be open.” – Micheline

I’m also now connected with Meg Maley, the CEO and co-founder of CanSurround – an empowering online tool that offers mental and emotional support to cancer patients through The Work of Byron Katie, online journaling, meditation, helpful articles, and more. I created yoga therapy videos for their web site that infuse the practice of inquiry – for example, how to meet physical sensations with a curious, open mind, instead of with fear and stress. Something I practice a lot! Cancer has honestly made me a better yoga teacher. #cancerbonus

Inner Peace Retreats with Susan Vielguth also offer an invitation for participants to explore the mind/body relationship through Yoga & The Work of Byron Katie. Peace truly is possible regardless of the circumstances – we invite you to join our next retreat April 27-29th.

Closing with Gratitude

I am completely open to see where this journey leads me. I am truly grateful for all of it ~ the joy and the pain. I’m still a work in progress as this is all a continued practice for me. (We all know the real reason for being a “facilitator” – so we can stay in our own work!)

It is my hope that everyone finds true freedom from cancer. A freedom that exists with or without cancer cells in the body. Thanks to this beautiful practice of inquiry, I’m not a victim of cancer; I’m simply an eternally grateful student.

Like Byron Katie says, “Life happens for you, not to you.” Even cancer!

Work with Me

Schedule a Private Session, Customized Workshop, or Retreat

Inner Peace Retreat ~ Yoga & The Work of Byron Katie: April 27-29

Making Peace w/Disease Online Series: May 7-June 11

 

Cancer Diagnosis, finding peace with cancer, Inquiry, stress and cancer, the work of byron katie and cancer

HOW would you LIVE if you knew you were dying?

Flashback to 17-year-old me at a Tim McGraw & Faith Hill concert with my besties when one of our favorite songs comes on, “Live Like You Were Dying.” Jumping up and down, belting the lyrics (in perfect harmony, I’m sure), swaying side by side…

Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying
Like tomorrow was a gift
And you’ve got eternity
To think about
What you’d do with it

What would I do with it? Well, at that time, my main focus was obvious: try to capture a pic of Tim’s gorgeous butt in those wrangler jeans.

Now that I’m 36 and have rocked through the cancer party–it’s safe to say my priorities have shifted a bit.

One thing I didn’t expect is that Death has become a welcomed, fascinating meditation. You’re dying. I’m dying. We’re all dying. Let’s face it, bodies don’t make it. No medication, supplement, prayer, meditation, exercise, or amount of money will prevent you from transitioning out of this body.

So why do we spend so much time fearing it? Why is death looked at as a worse-case scenario? A bad thing? And why is it such a HUSH topic of conversation?

In my recent blog post, “Diagnosis = New Direction,” I talk about how I prefer to explore my nightmares now. And one of those nightmares is the cancer coming back terminally and being given those words, “there’s nothing more we can do. It’s only a matter of time.”

And here’s my favorite question to contemplate…

How would I live if I knew I was dying?

The time in between my diagnosis and waiting to find out how much the cancer had spread were 2 of the most amazing weeks of my life. All of the daily bullshit stressors completely dropped away and I found myself in an incredible state of gratitude for everything and everyone. I experienced joy in the simplest of pleasures ~ riding the trolley, watching our godson’s soccer games, cooking a meal, sitting under a hot shower, holding hands with my husband, stepping on acorns (not kidding ~ there is something SO gratifying about the crunch of an acorn!).

As I try on this scary future and let myself feel through the terror…I see an opportunity for even more presence, slowing down, deeply connecting with my loved ones. Appreciating every second that I am able to see my Godson grow up. Falling in love with my husband all over again.

I see sharing my experience of dying with others and learning from others. I see acceptance, peace, gratitude for every moment that I’ve been given. Forgiveness ~ making amends with others and within myself for anything that still hurts.

I see traveling more when/if it’s an option for my body. If I can’t travel, I see asking my friends from all over the world to send me short 30 sec videos of the inspiring places they go and things they do.

I’d say YES to adventure…I’d try that salsa class, jump on a surf board, go white water kayaking, float in a hot air balloon.

I’d snuggle. A lot.

I’d continue to take care of my mind with self inquiry and would question thoughts like “I am dying…can I absolutely know it’s true? Or is it truer that in reality, I am still here breathing? Is it possible that I am even more alive than I have ever been?” 

I’d love on my body with nourishing foods, movement, time in nature. I’d love the shit out of that piece of chocolate cake and glass of wine too.

Any part of aging would be such a privilege ~ finding a grey hair or wrinkle? Yes, please! That means I get to get older.

I’d probably have some pretty stellar freakouts ~ and just like I did during the cancer journey, I’d get to learn over and over again that I’m still ok in this moment…and this one…and this one…I could feel the intimacy of being with myself in that deep pain & suffering. And the intimacy of being held by someone else.

And there’s one more thing I would be super motivated to do:

FINISH. MY. BOOK.

(Yes, I’ve been writing a book! Woot! Woot! More on this later 😉

So…WHY wait? I can live ALL of this now.

Perhaps the turnaround to my question is truer:

How would I live if I knew I was dying living?

With an open mind, death can be a catalyst for truly living. This contemplation on dying is giving me the perfect prescription for how to fully embrace life. So what are YOU waiting for? #RxLiveLikeYouAreDying

Work with me…

Schedule a Private Session

New! Inner Peace Retreat ~ Yoga & The Work of Byron Katie: April 27-29

New! Making Peace w/Disease Online Series: May 7-June 11

Related blog posts…

How I Found Peace During “The Waiting Game”

A Different Kind of Breast Cancer Awareness

Diagnosis = New Direction

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?

14195438_10210231721288275_5335066617439963415_o
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…