Yoga for Cancer Recovery

I have loved yoga ever since… I stopped hating it.

OK that was dramatic but let’s be real, it’s not super inviting to head into a swanky studio for your first time with all those bendy bitches balancing on their heads… making yourself feel super self-conscious because you can barely touch your knees. At least, that is one of the most {highly paraphrased} reasons people tell me they don’t like yoga.

My yoga beginning was a little different. I started with a class at the Tracy Sports Club. It was me and my step-mom rolling around on the floor in somewhat of a “crack the egg” pose while elderly folks were ripping’ ’em all around us. Then I began to dabble again in high school PE {shout-out to Mrs. Hannigan!} It was cool. Slow but cool. But I just couldn’t focus. I was used to playing sports and slowly moving through poses and focusing on my breath was super rough for me. Then off to SDSU, practicing at the school gym and something clicked. I actually liked sitting with my own thoughts, focusing on my breath, and noticing the mental, emotional, physical benefits of yoga.

Fast forward to January of 2018. I was nearly done with active treatment. I was navigating a new body, a new normal- taking only very gentle yoga classes when I attended my first day of Yoga Teacher Training at Yoga Sol. Immediately I knew that I was right where I needed to be.

Top: Yoga Sol Grads
Bottom: Be Well Grads

The E X A C T same feeling came over me on my first day of Yoga For Cancer Recovery Teacher Training with Be Well. And if you have never fully been able to trust that you were making the right decisions at the right time, let me tell you- it fucking rocks. Not only did that training help me to feel seen and understood but it also lit a serious fire under my ass to start manifesting and working towards bringing Be Well to OC.

Gratitude fills me as I write this- both of these AMAZING programs are coming together beginning this September! My great friend Jenny Jensen, who completed Yoga Sol’s 200 hour and Be Well’s 55 hour training along side me, and I are officially going to be teaching Be Well inspired classes at Yoga Sol!

The Deets:

  • First class will be Monday, September 9th
  • Classes will be held each Monday from 4:30-5:30pm
  • Open to all C survivors no matter where you are in your journey or your yoga experience!
  • Donation based- We understand that a diagnosis often comes with serious financial burdens. Pay what you can!
  • Survivors can bring along a caregiver, supporter, cheerleader, partner, or pal!

Classes will integrate mindful yoga, deep relaxation, visualization, breathing techniques, and meditation – all in a compassionate and supportive environment and with your optimal well-being in mind.

We are all so excited to be able to offer this weekly class at the gorgeous Yoga Sol studio in Yorba Linda. If you feel like you or someone you know could benefit from attending, hit me up!

Fun Fact:

BOTH Yoga Sol & Be Well are offering trainings this fall!

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AnaOno

Dana Donofree, the Founder of AnaOno, is an inspiring entrepreneur and fellow survivor who does amazing work for our community. Here is her story.

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

I launched AnaOno after my own diagnosis and treatment led me into a world that didn’t feel was made for me. It felt old, out dated, and not to mention alienating. So I wanted to apply my fashion industry experience and design expertise into solving the problem that so many of us face, finding a bra post-breast cancer!

What populations and areas do you serve?

I hope to help any person that has undergone breast surgery, often related to a cancer diagnosis or to prevent one. Beauty, sexiness, confidence doesn’t come with age limitations, so I dream of a world where everyone feels empowered, and not feel guilty if a beautiful bra helps with that.

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

Educating the general public about what breast cancer really is, and what it really looks like is always a challenge. We are not pretty pink bows, and feather boas, and smiling happy women. We come in different shapes, sizes, and genders. We have to understand the effect this disease has on all of us in order to help each other!

Program aside, tell us about yourself. What makes you, YOU!

Me, me? So many things. I love being creative, I love being a friend, I love dining and drinking wine with people I love, and love helping others. Of course, cuddling with my pup is also a must have!

How has C directly impacted your own life? 

The big “C” has affected every aspect of my life. Some in good ways, others in not so good of ways. It is there when I wake up, and when I fall asleep….I actually wouldn’t mind a vacation from my cancer.

What are your go-to acts of self care?

This is always something I work on. Being deeply involved in the cancer community and entrepreneur community is at times overwhelming, but also incredibly gratifying. I practice time with my friends and family when possible, but it can be hard.

What have you learned about yourself and the C community since starting AnaOno?

That we are all in the worst, but the best club ever. My friends I have made, and the friendships themselves are so open, honest, and loving, I wouldn’t be able to take any of that back. The instant bond I feel with others who have gone through what I have gone through is so strong and you know they just “get” you.

Do you have a favorite quote, mantra, phrase, or curse word? 

Never Alone

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

Launching AnaOno with my dearest friends, Jill Conley and Tracy Birdsell, by my side. Both of these incredible women facing breast cancer in very different ways, Jill with metastatic cancer and Tracy with DCIS, both supported my effort to launch the line and celebrate our hard work! I love them both, and Jilly is forever loved and missed every single day.

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

The worst moments are when I lose a friend, a model, a fellow activist, and earth shaker. These moments come hard, and they are incredibly sad because we could be doing so much more, but it also fuels me to keep raising my voice and the voices of others so we don’t have to keep saying goodbye to incredible people because we have no cure for breast cancer.

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

Take it one day at a time. Every day is overwhelming, try not to dive into the million “what if’s”, just get through the day.

How can we help AnaOno?

Spreading the word is the best thing anyone can do for us, because we all know someone, and talking about how your bra sucks may not be the first thing that comes up in conversation but really truly can have an impact!

How can we contact you?

AnaOno.com and @AnaOnoIntimates

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