On the 20th March 2019, Patricia and I first met to start our yoga journey together, after her breast cancer diagnosis.
The yoga program offered her support during her whole cancer treatment program.
The yoga practices were designed to suit her needs during her various treatment phases, as well as meet her physically, mentally and emotionally. We didn’t stop practicing, we simply met the challenges, especially from side-effects from the medication, as they arose. Plus, bringing in certain practices to anticipate possible side-effects before a treatment phase.
After 2 years, we took time to talk about how the yoga influenced and continues to influence, her life, from a perspective of having breast cancer as well as working full-time during her cancer treatment therapy program.
We wanted to share her story with others to offer inspiration to all women who are on this journey. No matter what your situation, to know that there are simple tools available to support your process and assist you to return back to inner balance and develop a practice for improved quality of life.
Patricia, what role does yoga play in your life?
Yoga will be with me always if I want to have a better quality of life.
It’s really very clear to me, that I will not stop practicing yoga.
I know that this will be part of my routine. I have the feeling this is something I want to do.
For me, I was not a person who had a very established routine with sport and movement. When I was living in Berlin, I tried to make a routine of sport. I had a trainer so I knew it was more than a motivation, it was an obligation, in order to make me really do it.
When I received the cancer diagnosis, it was clear to me that I needed to do something for myself. I knew that I could not expect the medication to be the only solution. I wanted to do something that would help my well being and help me overcome the side-effects of the treatment better.
What have you observed to be the biggest impact for you as a result of practicing yoga, physically, mentally and/or emotionally?
I think it is a combination of things. It depends on how I am feeling. The days are not always the same, physically, mentally and also emotionally.
I would say that yoga is a very good combination of whatever you need most. It’s as if your body is wiser than the conscious you.
The practice offers what you are in need of.
There were times when there was a lot of frustration or some frustration, and the breathing, the setting down, coming to myself, was particularly important. Then there were other times when, for example, I had this pain and I had the feeling I cannot move, and then I started to move and realized, “Oh, I can move, and it is amazing!”.
It was and still is very encouraging, it gives me a boost and a lot of energy. Then I realize it is not true that I feel so bad, that I don’t have energy and I don’t feel like myself. I feel I have more strength and flexibility, and I know it is going to pass. Yoga helps to bring this out.
“Yoga is like a hug, a hug for yourself. A hug to your Soul, to your back, to your kidneys, or whatever part needs it”.
Even if the practice is sometimes work, it is always worth it. I often think to myself,
“I am so glad I did it. This was so good. I am so grateful and lucky to practice yoga in this way, in this very important life phase.”
And it is not about doing a handstand or advanced poses. I admire seeing pictures of these advanced poses, but for me this is not the most important part. This is not what I want to achieve with yoga.
How has yoga helped you to co-ordinate your life-work balance, since you continued to work full-time during your whole cancer treatment program, and very long days too, often up to 12 hours per day?
It has been important to put this practice time aside for me and for me only, because it is so clear that it is beneficial and good for me.
It becomes something like taking medication to feel better. You want to feel better.
With cancer, physically there is always something going on. You don’t feel like you were before. There are symptoms during the chemo, during the anti-body and anti-hormone treatments, and then the radiation and the skin where the radiation was is sensitive and tender.
Yoga is a really nice resource. It feels so good that it makes it easy to say “this is the time for me, this is an important time for me”.
This process has taught me that doing something good for me is important, and not only good for me in that moment but also for my general well being, and my work.
In my case it gives me a lot of energy which is very helpful.
What a process, and completely unexpected, right?
Suddenly I was in the middle of the cancer story; it just happened.
And I didn’t feel like, “Oh why is this happening to me?”
I just take the best of it everyday. Yes, of course it is a life changing experience, and my life is never going to be the same.
I am very grateful for being able to navigate through this process in the best possible manner, and yoga is a part of that navigation. And it does not stop, it is a continuing process.
How has yoga specifically supported your most challenging side-effects, for example, the joints. How are your joints now after 2 years of being in treatment?
Right now I have nearly 100% sensibility back in my hands and feet, and they were a big concern for me. I was having pain and discomfort everyday. When we were doing the yoga exercises for the arms, I could literally feel the tingling in my arms; it felt like electricity connections and nerve pathways reestablishing themselves.
It was amazing! Amazing, really! And everyday this is getting better and better. It gives me hope.
Would you like to offer some closing thoughts or a message to other women who are going through this process?
I really hope that those who follow can also learn and be inspired by the stories of others. There are no impossible odds.
certified Yoga-Und-Krebs Yoga Trainer