Browsing Tag

breast cancer

cancer, Guest Posts

Marked

February 24, 2017
tattoo

By Jude Walsh

I was nine when I saw my first tattoo. It was July in northeastern Pennsylvania and the first week of Saint Aloysius’ annual two-week church summer bazar. I was with my dad in the beer garden, a lattice work section decorated with swags of plastic greenery and potted plastic plants, located just a few steps away from the food tent. It was sheltered by a large tarp and had long counters set much higher than normal booths because their sole purpose was a place to rest your elbows while you stood while having a beer or two or three or ten.  This section was for drinkers but in the early 1960’s there was no problem with a little girl being there with her dad.

The art I spied was on a man who in my memory had big arms, what I now might call bulging biceps but then just thought of as big arms. It was deep blue and in the shape of an anchor. I could not stop looking at it.  Dad noticed me staring and said, “That’s a navy anchor.” I knew it was an anchor and now I knew it was a navy anchor. What I did not know was how it got on his skin.

“Who drew it there?”

My dad laughed out loud, “It’s not drawn on his arm, that’s a tattoo.” Continue Reading…

courage, Guest Posts

A Letter To My Son

August 25, 2015

By Susan Rahn

Dear Son,

You just turned 16.

It seems like I blinked and you went from a curious toddler to a handsome, bright young man with such a bright future within your grasp. I so excited for you and can’t wait to see what path you choose for yourself. I’m confident you’ll choose wisely.

There is so much I want to tell you but I know how much you hate ‘mushy’ letters. This will not be one of those. This includes important things to remember for when you choose a partner to share your life with.

You’re probably shaking your head at me because of how things didn’t work out with me and your Father. I may not seem like the best person to be doling out advice but I have a very unique perspective that I didn’t have before.

Obviously, you’ll want someone who loves and respects you. You’ll want someone that you can laugh with and share memories with. Everyone does. You’ll also want someone who drives you a little bit crazy with the particular way they do things. It’s OK. It will remind you of why you fell in love in the first place.

You’ll want someone who shares some of your interests. It’s OK if there are some differences. If you both liked all the same things life would be boring.

Now pay attention because this is important. This is something few are told and even less consider when choosing a partner…ready?

Be very, very certain that if your partner or you ever have a significant health issue that both of you will be committed to each other. That you’ll support each other emotionally because that’s so important. Neither of you can ‘check out’ emotionally because things get scary. Be sure that you’ll both dig your heels in and support one another. Don’t be so selfish that your feelings become more important than her’s regardless of who is ill. Continue Reading…

Binders, cancer, Guest Posts

Twisted Sheets and Gaping Holes

June 7, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Rebecca Chamaa

I am in the middle of my second breast cancer scare.  Last year at this time, I was going through numerous tests, mammograms, ultrasounds, and visits to specialists.  There were the phone calls, “Well we didn’t find anything, but we want you to get another test.”  There was the waiting.  There was my heart that races the speed of a marathon runner whenever I enter a doctor’s office.  Again, there was the waiting.

In the midst of all of that, and again today, I think about dying.  Mostly I think about my husband.  What will our bed look like if I no longer take the right half?  He jokingly asks me often, “What do you do while you sleep to get the bedcovers to look like that?  It’s a mess.  They are all twisted.”  If I die, will he wake to a bed that only needs a little adjusting to be perfectly made?

The hole that either of our absences would leave in this house is like a crater – it couldn’t be walked around, it couldn’t be ignored, it would be unavoidable, and all consuming.  The edges would be where the rest of our life was hanging, hanging over an opening that would threaten to swallow the one left behind.  Swallow?  How would either of us eat again after sharing all our dinners at the little table built for two?

I told my husband yesterday, that if I have cancer, and I am dying, that it isn’t all bad.  “I want to die before you,” I said.  “What?”  He asked.  “That is so selfish.  Okay, you can die before me, but not now.  Not this young.  I want to retire.  I want to go places.  I have plans.  No, you can’t die this young.  Not now.” Continue Reading…

cancer, Guest Posts

This Is What Cancer Does.

March 6, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Nancy Conyers.

This is what cancer does: it makes your body unknown to you, an alient presence dragging 50lb weights on each ankle and around your neck. You are exhausted, so exhausted physically and mentally your brain can’t send proper signals to get your unresponsive limbs moving. One time, for three days, you couldn’t even wash your face because it was too much effort to lift your arms. When you couldn’t stand your own smell anymore you tried to take a shower. It wasn’t your own body odor you were smelling, it was the drugs you’d been infused with: TCHP, Taxotere, Carboplatin, Herceptin, Perjeta. They were seeping through your skin, through every orifice and the metallic medicinal smell was making you as nauseous as the drugs were. You turned on the shower but the weight of the water pushed you against the shower wall and you struggled to turn the water off. You sat soaking wet on the side of the bathtub until your spouse came to check on you.

“Honey, are you ok?” you heard her ask from the bedroom. When you didn’t answer she rushed in to the bathroom, saw the puddles of water at your feet, grabbed a towel and started drying you off. “You scared me when you didn’t answer,” she told you as she was drying your back. You knew she meant she thought you were dead.

You now spend hours on the internet trying to get more information about cancer, how you could have gotten it, what your chances are, but once you start reading you close your laptop because you don’t really want to know that the survival rate is only 70% five years later for your late Stage 3A aggressive breast cancer. What about 10 years or 20 years you ask, but nobody has those statistics. You don’t want to think in terms of surviving only five years. You don’t want to think that there is a 30% chance you could be dead before the five years are up. You look around your house in Santa Fe, the one you and your spouse bought for retirement that you don’t live in full time yet and you know that in five years she may not be ready to stop working. You want time here together when she retires, time to build a roof deck so you can sit and watch the sun set on the Sangre de Christos every night.

You’ve read all the other statistics about who gets breast cancer, the two most likely being you’re a woman and you’re aging. 77% of the women diagnosed with breast cancer are over age 50. Since when did age 50 mean you were aging, you wonder. Women who’ve never had children, who start their menses before age 12, who took oral contraceptives and who do hormone replacement therapy are at risk. Women who are overweight, drink excessive amounts of alcohol, who are physically inactive and exposed to environmental pollutants are at risk. You fit some of the categories but you never took hormone replacement therapy, you don’t drink excessive amounts of alcohol and even though you are overweight you are physically active. Back when you thought you were straight, you took birth control pills for five years. You’ve never smoked. Ever. In your mind only people who smoke get cancer, people who won’t or can’t stop smoking and take drags on their cigarettes from a hole in their neck while they’re hooked up to oxygen.

Cancer. This cannot be your life. This is not your life. This will not be your life. You do not want to understand what these medical terms mean, do not want to become comfortable with spouting out breast cancer vocabulary and treatment options, do not want to know that once your treatments are over the cancer could come back. Once this is all over even if you’re told you are cancer free, it’s only for the moment, that place in time, that snapshot, not forever. You want forever. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts

Thank you for Listening.

December 27, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88

By Amy Yelin.

My father listened. That was his job. He was a psychiatrist, like Bob Newhart on TV, and as a child I thought this made him an important man. A celebrity even. Why else would he have his own parking spot?  Two spots, actually, both with signs that read: Reserved for Gershon Yelin, MD. Violaters Towed at Their Own Expense.

Sometimes we’d visit his office after a shopping trip or picking up books at the library in Port Chester, New York. My mother would park in one of those special spots, right next to his car, and then I’d feel important, too, like a regular Amy Carter.

My father’s office was in a typical 1970’s brick office building, with a dark hallway that smelled like menthol. I noted the numbers as we walked down the hall until we reached the door labeled 2G. Then, despite my mother’s insistence to only ring it once, I’d push the buzzer repeatedly,

My father opened the door just a tiny bit, the chain still on. “Who is it?” He’d say, pretending to be suspicious.

“It’s me…Amy!”

“And me,” my mother said, playing along.

“Whaddya want?”

After I rang the buzzer a few more times, the door flew open and my father greeted us with a happy but subdued, “Well hellooooo’

No one was ever there when we visited. No patients in the giant waiting room. No receptionist at the reception desk.  My father’s actual office, with nothing more than a desk light on, was a stark contrast to the fluorescently lit waiting room. The window blinds were always drawn almost to the bottom, resembling two sleepy eyelids, letting in only the tiniest slivers of light. Several pipes waited in an ashtray on his desk, and a standing globe, possibly the only fun thing in the room, beckoned me every time. I’d make myself at home in my father’s black leather chair, close my eyes and then spin that globe hard and see where my finger would land.

“Here’s where I’m going to move,” I’d announce upon opening my eyes. “New Zealand!”

“Bon voyage,” my father would say.

My father is 86 now. We talk on the phone at least once a week, but only see each other around Thanksgiving, when my dad and his second wife Terri fly up to New York from North Carolina for their annual medical appointments. We drive down from Boston and meet them at their favorite hotel, The Renaissance, not far from where I grew up. It’s a bizarre sort of family reunion, but it’s ours. Continue Reading…

cancer, Dear Life., Guest Posts

Dear Life: How Do I Knock Down The Walls Cancer Has Built Around Me?

November 9, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black

By Joules Evans.

Welcome to Dear Life: An Unconventional Advice Column. Your questions get sent to various authors from around the world to answer. Different writers offer their input when it comes to navigating through life’s messiness. We are “making messy okay.” Today’s question is answered by Joules Evans, author of Shaken, Not Stirred. A Chemo Cocktail.

Have a question for us? Need some guidance? Click here. Please address it as if you are speaking to a person rather than life or the universe. Need help navigating through life’s messiness? Write to us!

 

Dear Life,

I’m 32 now – 30 & 31 were filled with having double mastectomy, painful reconstruction, chemo and radiation. I’m starting heal my mind, to get back into the swing of life and letting myself look at possibilities I haven’t in years – seizing the day, romantic possibilities.

I like a boy – it’s crazy, it’s been a long time. How do I knock these fucking walls down and start acknowledging I do deserve something great in my life. My body is literally what is left of a battlefield. I look at myself in the mirror and feel so broken and impossible to love. I worry so much I will open up to this guy I will be completely and utterly rejected.. and even more broken than I started out. Help.

Love & light,
BC Survivor

Continue Reading…

cancer, Guest Posts, Pregnancy

Love In The Time of Drought.

September 28, 2014

By Cheryl Klein.

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black

1. Sunday Story

A couple of weeks ago, I said to AK, “Can we talk about The Hospital List again?”

She said no. I’d just had minor surgery, and she felt like we needed to deal with that first. I felt like she was making excuses, blaming me and my difficult body. More about that in a minute.

This morning, one of the hottest this summer, we went for a hike in the foothills of Los Angeles. I was excited because most Sunday mornings, she goes hiking with her therapist buddies and leaves me behind. Today I had her undivided attention and I didn’t want to squander it, although I knew from past experience that Hospital List conversations were risky. She might prefer to discuss Attachment Theory with her colleagues than act out real early-childhood issues with me. Continue Reading…

cancer, Grief, Guest Posts

After My Sister Died I Became Holey.

September 25, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat Sep 17-24, 2016 by emailing barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

By Jessica Yaeger.

Hi! This is me, Jessica. I’m a rectangle. (So- I’m not talking body types here, but just random shapes for the sake of my illustration!)

 

pic1

 

This is my amazing sister Vanessa. She was a triangle (& see the V?).

 

pic2

 

This is a hole I have in me. I got it when Vanessa died of stage 4 (metastatic) breast cancer.

 

pic3 Continue Reading…

Beating Fear with a Stick, cancer, courage, Free Stuff, Guest Posts

Cancer Is a Bitch. But Wait! There’s Good News Too.

August 21, 2014

Shaken Not Stirred: A Chemo Cocktail. A Comedy About My Tragedy. By Joules Evans. (hint: good news follows.)

Hi beloveds, Jen Pastiloff here. I’m the founder of The Manifest-Station. There’s a lot going on here with us trying to get the new site launched (eek! Thanks Carla White) but…it is very important to me that I get this post up asap as my dear friend Joules Evans wrote it. I met Joules when she drove from Ohio to Massachusetts to attend my Kripalu retreat last February.  (Yes, I am doing it again and it’s filling up fast!) Anyway, we have become buds, and, truth be told, I am obsessed with her and her book Shaken Not Stirred.. A Chemo Cocktail. The kindle version is FREE TODAY and tomorrow to celebrate 6 years aka 2190 fucking awesome days since hearing that damn word. each and every one a GIFT. even the hard ones.<< Joules words. That is the good news. To celebrate she made her book free for two days. Please get it and take the time to read what is below. Have your mind blown. Seriously guys, her book is moving and funny and divine.  I love this woman to the end of the earth and back. This post is an excerpt of her book. Please get it. And get it for people. And spread the word. And fuck cancer!

Continue Reading…

Beating Fear with a Stick, cancer, Gratitude, Guest Posts, healing, Manifestation Retreats

Thank You, You Didn’t Break Me.

February 8, 2014

**trigger warning. Strong content that might be upsetting to some. Mention of sexual abuse. Strong language.

By Lockey Maisonneuve

“Thank you to the people who built me.” Jen Pastiloff read these words from an essay she wrote at Kripalu last weekend during her Manifestation Retreat®.

Thank you. You didn’t break me.

I was tingly when I heard these words. Why? Because Jen created the space for me to powerfully, and without anger, share my gratitude and flaunt my resilience to the people who built me.

We were invited to write a Thank You letter to everyone we ever met, the loving, supporting people who showed us grace and dignity, the people who were careless with our heart, the people who bullied us and those who showed us beauty. This letter was best described by Angela Patel, a retreat participant.  She called it a Thank You/Fuck You letter. “Thank you releases it, while fuck you holds it in.”

When I started writing my letter, I wasn’t sure who would receive the thank you or the fuck you. I just started writing, and thanking and fuck-youing. It all came together in one beautiful, colorful, abstract, authentic, thank you/fuck you landscape.

After I wrote this letter, I was shaking.  All over. My legs, my arms, my chest, my fingers, my heart.  Then I was asked to read my letter aloud.  Really Jen??

I trust her. So I read the letter.

I stood there reading, not even realizing what I’d written until I tried to speak the words out loud.  There was no time to prepare them for what they would hear, no time to make self-deprecating comments, or a joke to avoid being present to this moment.  I just had to stand in the uncertainty that I could be vulnerable and would not crumble into a pile on the floor.

As I read my letter I realized I was getting exactly what I came for.   I was being vulnerable. I was standing in uncertainty. I did not use my humor to deflect the situation like I normally do. I was authentic. I was raw. I was humbled.

My audience held the space for me to express things I’ve never said out loud. Once again, I made it through. I did not crumble. I am whole (and kinda awesome.)

I am forever grateful to Kripalu and the amazing space they provide, Jen Pastiloff for being the space of transformation for the planet, and everyone of the women I hugged, laughed and cried with.  I am in awe of every one of you.

My Thank You/Fuck You Letter inspired by Jen’s essay and assignment (click here to read it.)

Thank you to the kid who poured breadcrumbs on my sister before school.  Thank you to my sister for pushing me away.  thank you to my family for telling me repeatedly “She is the strong one.” Thank you to Andrew for hiring me as a bar tender and telling me during the interview that he knew I was lying about having experience as a bar tender.  Thank you to the rapist who punched me in the face.  Thenk you to the man who pulled me out of the shower after sneaking in to the house.  Thenk you to the man who held me down, thank you to my father who laughed as he counted the money men paid him to rape me.Thank you to the lady who worked in the bakery who bartered babysitting services in exchange for free breakfast.  Thank you to me for my ingenuity at the age of 12.  Thank you to my children for teaching me how to love unconditionally.  Thank you to me for getting up every time I fell. Thank you to cancer for allowing me to see that “someday” is a myth, the time is now.  Thank you lululemon for making yoga pants mainstream.  Thank you Jean, for saving me.  Thank you Ed for firing me, I hated that job.  Thank you personal training career for teaching me that I do have something to offer. 

PS. As a public service announcement, if you are planing on attending a retreat with Jen, which I highly recommend, don’t bother wearing mascara. It will be gone by the end of the first Elton John song and for the rest of the day, you will be wondering if it’s all over your face.   🙂

Lockey is a yoga instructor and survivor of cancer and child abuse. Sharing her story and practicing yoga saved her life. When she let go of both the cancer and the secret of abuse she was able to heal in both mind and body. Lockey openly shares her cancer and child abuse experiences to help others in what ever they are surviving in their lives. Lockey has been profiled in Shape Magazine  WABC-TV, News Channel 12.  She is a montly contributor for PositivelyPositive.com. And writes blogs for SheKnows.com and MindBodyGreen.She is featured in The Ultimate Guide to Breast Cancer by the Editors of Prevention Magazine.  Recently she presented a vidoechat for the GE Healthcare Breast Cancer Mosaic. She is a monthly contributor on PositivelyPositive.com.

At Kripalu in Massachusetts last week (Feb 1, 2014.)

At Kripalu in Massachusetts last week (Feb 1, 2014.)

Lockey and Jen at Jen's Bali retreat last year.

Lockey and Jen at Jen’s Bali retreat last year.

Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer based in Los Angeles. She is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Jen will be leading a Retreat in Costa Rica at the end of March and her annual retreat to Tuscany is in July 2014. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing and for ALL levels. Read this post to understand what a Manifestation retreat is. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Jen and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. Be prepared to go deep if you go sign up for a retreat. And also to laugh! A lot.