My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was a teenager in the 1970’s. I remember being so scared and confused. Was my mom going to die, what would happen to our family? The word CANCER held such fear in those days.
My mom is the strongest woman I know. She was diagnosed with Stage 2 Invasive Breast Cancer. She had a double mastectomy and took on cancer like she does everything – with a positive attitude, strength, and courage. My mom is currently 85 years old and is doing well.
Fast forward to 2014, when I received my own breast cancer diagnosis at 49 years old. Without knowing it, life had already prepared me for this journey. My cancer was found at an early stage via a mammogram. I was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In-Situ. The cancer had not spread thankfully, and I opted for a partial mastectomy, radiation and medication support with Tamoxifen for the next 5 years.
I ended up having 2 surgeries, and 16 rounds of radiation. Although the surgeries were difficult, it was nothing compared to the radiation. Going to get radiated each day was exhausting, and the physical pain was very difficult. It is a hard thing to get your mind around – you are going to get poisoned to get healed. I had such a hard time with this part of my treatment.
“It is a hard thing to get your mind around – you are going to get poisoned to get healed.”
I had always dabbled in yoga here and there, but I’ve never attended regularly in my life. I decided that I would buy a one-month unlimited pass during my radiation treatments and try to go each day, thinking it might help me get through it and to heal. I ended up in a routine, where I would attend a hot yoga each morning, go to my radiation treatments at noon and then relax at home for the afternoon. I pushed myself to follow this schedule and within it, I found myself – my healing, my release, and my strength. Yoga changed my entire life from this moment on, and I have never looked back. My practice has come full circle and I am starting my yoga teacher training this month. My goal is to help other women going through health and wellness issues in their life, and to inspire them that they can take on challenges throughout their life – even in their 50’s and beyond.
“I pushed myself to follow this schedule and within it, I found myself – my healing, my release and my strength.”
I have learned so much about myself and my life going through this journey. After treatment was a difficult time for me…as the fear sets in. Is the cancer really gone, did they get everything, is it coming back, could it be somewhere else in my body? Yoga helped me let these thoughts go, to be in the moment, to understand that my journey will unfold and all is okay. I will be fine no matter what. Having these beliefs has given me peace, strength and focus, and the ability to challenge myself without fear of failure; without fear of facing my insecurities.
“Is the cancer really gone, did they get everything, is it coming back, could it be somewhere else in my body?”
Life is a gift and it is beautiful. This moment is all we really have and when you learn to live in it, your whole world changes.
Namaste, Shannon Angell
This is what I wrote to my yoga studio (Breathe Hot Yoga – Airdrie, Alberta Canada) one year after…
“Thank you for creating such a beautiful environment to practise yoga and to heal. I am celebrating my one year anniversary since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was the hardest time of my life and I found peace and strength and my warrior spirit in that hot yoga room. My practise became my place to find my power as well as my place to cry and be at my most vulnerable in savasana. It literally changed my life and my outcome from this awful disease. My doctors were blown away at my recovery and outcome. Thank you for creating such a beautiful space. Even though you do not realize it all the time, it can be making a huge difference in someone’s life. I just wanted you to know that it did in mine.”