It was 5 pm on Friday, January 20, 2006 when my doctor said to me, ” You have cancer you will beat it.” and my life changed forever. She gave me the diagnosis and Hope in the same breath. Within three weeks, the whirlwind  began.  I had surgery, followed by a new format of radiation, six months of chemotherapy. I was exhausted and depleted physically, mentally and emotionally.

A dear friend arranged for an experience of a lifetime. Cancer patients from Alberta were flown to Austin, Texas to Ride in the Lance Armstrong’s Cancer Foundation’s Ride for the Roses. My husband & I rode a tandem bike 10 miles on a sunny Texas morning. I was amazed by the people I met. My fellow patients were inspirational, and their “guardian angels ” who brought them to Austin embodied compassion. Being with this community deeply impacted me. Their attitudes were positive and they seized and savoured every moment.

 I came home buzzing with inspiration & registered for a local yoga class. I found the mildest,  gentlest class & yet I was often overwhelmed. I continued and reflected upon my pals I met in Texas – some who had cancer return multiple times and I persevered. It was month 9 of 24 months of hospital based treatments. My treatment plan lasted 5 years.

I noticed I felt better and got stronger. So, I took more yoga & stronger yoga. Yes, it was simply  regular old hatha yoga.  And felt better and got stronger. Was there a connection, I wondered. I took the teacher training programme and learned others asked the same question.

Researchers at the U of A and other places posed the question – does exercise improve the quality of life for people receiving cancer treatments? The answer was Yes! One Alberta researcher asked if YOGA improved the lives of cancer patients and survivors. She found the answer was YES.

She worked with a noted kinesiologist/yoga professional/former elite athlete to develop a yoga programme to help reduce the numerous physical impacts of the disease and the treatment and to address the emotional strain and high levels of stress, anxiety and depression found in cancer patients. Yoga Thrive was born in Alberta in the early 1990’s.

I knew what I had to do. I took the YOGA THRIVE Training. The next Monday I shared my vision with the director of the Cross Cancer’s Psycho-Social and Spiritual Resources Department. I was hired to provide Yoga Thrive classes to patients.

I have been honoured to share my experience and my passion with the Yoga Thrive students. Most have never tried Yoga. By week # 3, many feel transformed.

I launched a community based Yoga Thrive class to serve as a stepping stone for the YT students. Many are not comfortable moving directly into a regular class. They often feel conspicuous due to  baldness, balance issues, or have prosthetic concerns.  Eventually, they move along either into other yoga classes or back to work.

This Yoga Thrive programme is an inspiration to teach and to practice.

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My Survivorship includes volunteer work, my athletic,  artistic and creative pursuits, family and friend – just like everyone. I try to keep a balanced approach to every day. Remember to  Live simply. Speak kindly. Care deeply and Love generously.

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