Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Submission / Questionnaire
I. Why I Wish to Participate
Dear BCABPP Team,
Upon first glance at your project, I immediately felt drawn to it, and believe there was no mistake it came across my cyber-plate. I am a breast cancer survivor, a yogini and an activist, as well as the Health & Wellness Editor for OM Times Magazine (www.OMtimes.com).
In my role as editor, part of my job is to find stories of inspiration and expose simple changes that create a huge impact in our life! While our goal is to move humanity toward PREVENTION not treatment, we must deal with the very real impact of breast cancer on not only the women who fight the disease, but also to our society as a whole.
As a survivor, I know first hand some of the self esteem issues that women go through, and the staggering number who are actually abandoned upon a diagnosis of breast cancer. My story of true inner and outer change begins with the diagnosis of advanced, stage III, multiple tumors - invasive ductal carcinoma - commonly known as breast cancer. One emergency radical mastectomy and several surgeries later, I was forced to represent myself for 3 of the 4 years my divorce, which was also taking place during this time, was in court. Although I completed my degree, worked two jobs, and raised two teenage boys alone, my heart was broken and my body responded through the manifestation of a physical disease.
It’s difficult to admit how many nights I cried myself to sleep and prayed for death, believing that my children would be better off with their father, and that there was nothing to live for without “love.”
Just prior to the diagnosis, I was introduced to yoga and began an adventure toward self discovery and responsibility. Much of my life previously I had felt like a victim without direction or hope for improvement. I stayed in unhealthy situations out of fear and co-dependence. I refused to acknowledge the “signs” that were given and I held on even tighter to a dream that was based upon an illusion.
After years of heartache and confusion, trying to deal with what felt like a lifetime of mistakes without a compass, my body responded with a disease that was up close and personal to my heart. For me, breast cancer was an awakening, a time out to evaluate what was important and one of the best things that happened to me. It allowed and provoked me to push my boundaries, and begin to recognize an inner strength I didn’t realize I possessed.
In the end, I have learned more about myself and life going through this experience than all the previous years combined. I realized that each day was a gift! There is no guarantee from moment to mment, and in the midst of the treatments I remember being happy just to be alive for one more day. The simple pleasure of having the energy to walk up a small hill and sit in the sun, and the slow process of incorporating my yoga practice back into my life brought tears of joy!
I promised myself and my creator that if I did survive, I would create something beautiful from this pain. I would look for the lessons in adversity and accept them with gratitude. As a breast cancer survivor I am left with a physical scar, but that has never been the challenge for me.
My frustration lies within the clothing industry that does not accommodate anyone that did not “fit” into the nice neat “box.” I teach yoga, zumba and am involved in many other athletic activities and could find nothing that would accommodate my less than perfect body. The feeling that I was “abnormal” because I refused to go through more surgeries just to fit into a societal mould of what a “sexy” woman was “supposed” to look like. I researched them and each surgical procedure left me with serious concerns. I preferred to be able to “do the activities I wanted” versus going through more painful surgeries, thousands of dollars and ending up with limited mobility.
I still feel sexy,