Submitted by Stacy Harriott, CYT
Caught completely by surprise by a diagnosis of small cell neuroendocrine cervical cancer I underwent what I call “industrial treatments”. A full hysterectomy followed by almost 6 months of multiple types of chemotherapy, radiation, chemo and radiation, and internal radiation. During this time, I was so ill that I basically bed ridden. As a single parent my then teenage daughter was held together by my amazing family, an incredible school guidance counselor, and a couple of amazing high school teachers. When I finished treatments, I could barely stand upright and was at one of the lowest points in my life. Through yoga and the Livestrong Program at the YMCA, I slowly regained my strength and came back to myself.
This past June I celebrated 5 years of cancer freedom. Though I do not realize it, the fear that cancer might return silently permeates my thoughts, bubbling up when I least expect it. Yoga keeps me present allowing me to leave the past in the past and the future in the future. When those subconscious thoughts pop up out of nowhere, taking me by surprise, I retreat to my mat. Spending time in quiet contemplation, in gentle movement, allowing all my feelings to come up and move on. That is what yoga is about.
“Yoga is a state of mind, not a workout”. It is the internal work rather than the external work. Sure, there is a physical component that is important and can look many ways from laying on the mat in savasana (deep relaxation), to gently stretching, to practicing a more rigorous flow. The truth is that yoga is so much more, it is that more that keeps me constant and steadfast day after day.
The simple act of taking a few moments to turn inward, to observe how I feel, and to acknowledge what I am thinking leads me to a place of feeling grounded and teaches me to be compassionate and loving toward myself no matter how I show up on my mat. My yoga practice is my sacred space. When I am on my mat it is about me guiding me to a better place.
Life is about changes and each day change shows up and through me in different ways. Being okay with what is showing up each day and navigating my life as gracefully as I can is yoga to me.
My cancer journey inspired me to want to share what helped me to overcome all that comes with a cancer diagnosis and to lead a healthy and happy life. I am now a certified yoga teacher and am humbled by the opportunities to share yoga with each of you. I hope you will join Thrive Survive and Be Fit Yoga. More importantly I hope you will take the time to show up for yourself.