Luna Peak Company

I was introduced to Melody Lomboy and Gracelyn Bateman of Luna Peak Company in early 2018 when I had the pleasure of being a part of their Project Inspire Hope. Here is their story.

Tell us your story. What is your program all about and how did you find yourself involved?

Luna Peak Company was created by my niece, Gracelyn and I. Because of my experience with triumphing over childhood leukemia at age 6, we wanted to learn from my family’s experiences and help others when facing difficult times. We decided to create inspiring books and media content. We photograph cancer and grief survivors and our mission is to celebrate life. Our cancer survivor project is called “Project Inspire Hope” and our grief survivor project is called “Snapshots of Life After Loss.” We are known for elevating survivor stories to give hope to those faced with extreme adversity. We know that sometimes you need to “see it to believe it” so we have photographed survivors and crowdsourced stories from those who have been through the experience and are now thriving. Seeing the eyes and faces of those who have walked a similar path can be a powerful reminder that we are not alone. Our photography humanizes the taboo subjects of cancer and grief that people are oftentimes too afraid to talk about. We open up a platform for people to share about their experiences and help others in the process and hope that it also sheds light on how to better support individuals through these tough times. We have created a platform where survivors and fighters feel safe sharing their very personal stories. We are proud that our participants have also found a sense of healing from sharing their stories with us as well.

What populations and areas do you serve?

So far we are working with cancer survivors of all types of cancers to serve newly diagnosed patients looking for inspiration. We also work with grief survivors to help those newly dealing with grief. We have other populations to serve as well and are working on more ideas. We basically want to work with those in need of seeing through challenging times.

What are the main obstacles that stand between you and your mission and what ways do you find to overcome them?

Our mission is to provide products to help others through the universal ups and downs of life. We are passionate about elevating the stories of survivors and strive to inspire others to embrace life with the same vigor. One obstacle we have faced is getting to all of the survivors that want to participate. We have survivors all over the world reaching out to be a part of “Project Inspire Hope” and it is hard for us to travel all over to get to them. Another obstacle was getting our work published to be available to those that need it. We implement instagram, twitter and facebook but would like to have a tangible book available to patients in the hospitals as well as waiting rooms across the country. We are currently working with a wonderful literary agent to make this possible.

Luna Peak Company aside for a moment, tell us about yourself. What makes you, YOU!

I battled acute lymphoblastic leukemia from ages 6-9. Surviving when many did not, I quickly found out just how strong and resilient a person can be. Throughout treatment, I swam competitively to keep my mind clear and body strong. This passion for the water led to a swimming scholarship at UC Irvine. I married my high school sweetheart, Tom Lowe, who was inspired by my oncologist at City of Hope. Tom is now an oncologist at Cancer Care Associates in Torrance. When I was undergoing treatment, I was told that I may not be able to have children, I now have 3 miracle babies- Daniel , Koa and Aiden. Family is everything to me and working with my niece makes Luna Peak Company even more special.

How has C directly impacted your own life? 

My cancer experience has shaped my entire life perspective from such a young age; when other kids were worrying about their homework- I was getting chemotherapy and fighting for my life. I feel the need to give back to the cancer community. I do this through volunteering, fundraising, and sharing my story of beating the odds to give hope to others who are newly diagnosed. My life motto is to CELEBRATE LIFE.

What are your go-to acts of self care?

I love to live life to the fullest by challenging myself with new adventures. I own a talent agency, practice yoga, swim in open water swims, play tennis and compete in mud runs. Besides my family, I am most proud of creating Luna Peak Company with the help of my niece. Without her I would not be able to juggle my mom life and this business. She is the driving force that has made this all possible. Daily check ins with Gracelyn keep me on track and sane.

What have you learned about yourself and the C community since starting with your program?

I have learned that there is is a special bond when you meet another person that has battled and overcome cancer. I am not sure if cancer chooses the strongest people to challenge, or if fighting cancer makes you a super person. But either way, survivors really are resilient, strong and amazing people.

What are some of your happiest and most joyful moments in this field?

When we have survivors come into the studio to have their photos taken. First off, I love to see them getting pampered by our amazing volunteers. They have their make up and hair done and get to feel great about themselves. It’s nice to see that cancer cannot take away all joy. When they come in to get photographed, they feel a bit nervous. So my favorite moment is telling them that I am a survivor as well. The minute I tell them, I am greeted with a huge smile and a big hug. The survivor connection is made and they relax and take the most beautiful photos. I love seeing their joy and strength.

Would you like to share one of your shittiest moments or memories of working in this field?

The hardest part of working with survivors and fighters is learning that someone passed away. When you have a large community of cancer survivors and fighters, this comes with the territory. It’s hard to deal with. Another very difficult and scary thing is finding out that a survivor that we worked with gets diagnosed with a secondary cancer. It challenges all survivors mentally, as we all fear a reoccurrence. We continue our work in memory of those that we have lost.

What are the latest happenings with your program right now?

We are finished with our photo shoots for cancer survivors and are almost finished filming grief survivors. Gracelyn and I are brainstorming new ideas to inspire others.

If you could share any piece of advice for someone who has been diagnosed, what would it be?

The diagnosis of cancer does not completely define you. But use it to mold a new you. Learn from this experience and take what you learn with you throughout your life. All of those challenges will help you in every facet of your life. And never ever forget to CELEBRATE LIFE.

How can we help Luna Peak Company?

We would love to have our social media sites grow. Please follow and share!

How can we contact you?

www.lunapeakcompany.com
@lunapeakcompany (twitter and instagram)
@snapshotsoflifeafterloss (twitter)
@melodythrives (twitter)
Luna Peak Company (facebook)
gracelyn@lunapeakcompany.com
melody@lunapeakcompany.com

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A New Project

My work space… if I had a clean table, fingerprint-less laptop, and some fancy filter on my phone. AKA- it’s a stock photo.

Happy Wed-Nes-Day! (Any other adults out there who still have to sound this word out before typing besides me?) 😬

I hope that everyone has been mindful about practicing acts of self care since my last post. Or have at least put it on your radar, now that we’re aware of how important self care really is. Remember, we are all worth it!

So, I recently got a wild hair up my ass and decided that I wanted to start my “October Project” early. Like last year, I was planning to interview people in the C community. But this time around, I wanted to interview the peeps who help to support the C community via programs, organizations, etc. and not necessarily just those diagnosed- though I’ve found that these two things often intersect. I had planned to post one interview per day like last year. But as I thought about it more, I realized that I didn’t want to wait until October. Instead, I will be posting interviews from different foundations, programs, non-profits, businesses, organizations, etc. over the next several months. Hell, if I get enough interest, this could become an on-going deal.

Throughout the interviews, you’ll have a chance to meet the people behind the scenes and see just how dedicated and whole hearted they and the programs they represent sincerely are. My hope is that by showcasing each organization, more people will be able to personally find support or will have the information and can help to spread the word of these amazing people and programs.

The individuals I have been working with and gathering information from are truly special. If you find that you feel the same way and want more information or want to see how you can help, contact information will be provided. And if you know of any person or group that you would like to see included in this project and have a contact for me, let me know! I would love to be able to highlight them! Keep an eye out, I plan to post the first interview next week.

And a little note: You may have noticed that the domain name for this blog has changed from jessicafilloon.com to mamasgotthis.blog … This is in anticipation of another project I’ve been hard at work on. Stay tuned!

Livin’ That Lymph Life

Having gone through my own share of C treatments- chemos, surgeries, and radiation sessions- I feel that I should have been more informed about the oh-so-important Lymphatic System. But the only real info I had was that surgeries (where lymph nodes were removed) and radiation treatments can cause lymphedema- swelling due to the altered flow of lymphatic fluid.  It’s something that never goes away and can have a significantly negative impact on one’s quality of life.

It wasn’t until I attended the Be Well Yoga for Cancer Recovery Teacher Training that I truly started to understand why we ALL should care about this amazing part of our bodies- diagnosis or not.  I’m so impressed by the lymphatic system that I find myself constantly fitting fun facts and ways to improve lymph movement into convos with my yoga students, my friends, family members, strangers… really, anyone who will listen… and now you!

The lymph system is pretty much the body’s sewage system. It’s like a one-way highway- a network of tiny channels that form a passage for lymph fluid to travel throughout the body- with stopping points (lymph nodes) along the way that act like trash cans.  In the lymph nodes, lymphocytes and antibodies hang out to sort through waste, searching for and removing toxic cells, dead cells, bacterias, viruses, and other foreign elements.  The lymph system then irrigates potential threats out of the body via body waste.  If the potentially dangerous cells are not removed from the body, the lymph node enlarges as a sign of infection and the rest of the immune system is notified and comes to kick some ass.

Lymph nodes are located in places like the mouth, nasal passages, neck, arm pits, and groin areas. But the largest and main lymph node is the thoracic duct.  It’s located behind the heart and lungs along the spinal column and runs from the top of the lumbar spine to the base of the neck.

So, why did I just completely nerd out on the lymphatic system?  Because all of that info was totally fascinating, right? Mind blown (poof!) And because, as important as it is to our health and immunity, this system does not have a “pump” to keep this crazy-necessary fluid moving. Instead, the lymphatic system relies on muscles, movement, and gravity to get lymph fluid moving.  Nuts, right? So it’s up to us!

Now you’re thinking “But how? How can I get this super important stuff moving?”  Oh, man. I’m glad you asked!

Breath

Simply by breathing we stimulate the flow of the lymph, and through full, deep breaths we can encourage the flow to be both cleansing and powerful. Full breaths create muscular movement and massage the thoracic duct.

Diaphragmatic (deep) breathing:

Begin by breathing in slowly through your nose, pushing the stomach out. The chest should remain relatively still on the inhale.  Slowly let your breath release out through your mouth. Full and slow diaphragmatic breathing for even just 5-10 rounds will circulate lymph fluid and oxygenate blood.

Before starting any of the exercises below…

Begin with a few rounds of diaphragmatic breathing.  Then bring your ear to your shoulder and on the opposite side, place your palm or flat fingers above the collar bone on the side of the neck.  Gently stretch the skin down while counting like a waltz~ 1-2-3 (about 5-10 times). Repeat on the other side.

Think of it this way, if you don’t open these main drains before getting the lymph moving, it would be like pressing from the bottom of a toothpaste tube with the top on… it will have no where to go. 

Movement & Yoga

The lymphatic system depends largely on muscle activity for its circulation. Though, we tend to spend a lot of time sitting, whether it’s at a desk, in a car, on the couch… and all of this sitting can lead to stagnation.  Fortunately, even minor movement can help.   Remembering to take breaks throughout the day to walk around and stretch can be really beneficial for your lymph system AND your overall wellbeing.

Yoga can help maintain lymph fluid movement via gravity (inversions), utilizing body positioning to reverse pooling of lymph fluid in the lower extremities.  Yoga also increases lymph flow with postures that cause large muscles to contract and relax- encouraging lymph to move through the body.  

Legs up the… whatever you can find. Just get them up!

Gentle self-lymphatic massages can be added to various poses to aid the flow of lymph fluid. Try very gently running/dragging the fingers from wrists towards armpits on the top, sides, and bottoms of arms- massaging near the armpits (think- while in Warrior II), as well as very gently dragging fingers from ankles to pelvic area (on all sides of the legs) and massaging around groin / hip creases (think- Staff Pose).

Lymph massage… don’t forget to massage the hip creases!

Dry Brushing

Dry skin brushing also promotes lymphatic drainage and is said to include additional benefits like refreshed skin and reduction of cellulite.  It’s best done few minutes before a shower, using a natural bristle brush.

Stand in your bathtub or shower so all of the falling dead skin doesn’t land on your super sweet bath mat.  Using long sweeping motions, begin brushing at your feet, moving upwards towards your heart.  All brush motions should go towards the heart area. No need to press hard because the lymph system is close to the surface of the skin.  After you have brushed your whole body, hop in the shower.

Dry brushing is best done naked… but this ain’t that kinda site

Fun Facts:

  • About 4 liters of lymph fluid is moved through the body and eliminated each day!
  • The body has between 501 and 700 lymph nodes- varying from person to person.
  • Where there are veins, there are lymphatic vessels.  The cardiovascular system and lymphatic system run parallel to each other .
  • The thymus is a super important part of the lymphatic system.  It is where the T-cells are generated which help to destroy the naughty cells that get flushed out.
  • The thymus is located behind the sternum, between the lungs and can be stimulated by tapping or softly thumping in that area 20-30 times.

Sooooo…. Have I peaked your interest in the lymph system?  Are you as fascinated as I am?

Are you ready to live that Lymph Life?

The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.