Helen is a dear friend, yoga teacher and breast cancer patient. Her disease has spread to her bones, and recently, I've been part of team of friends taking Helen to appointments, making dinners and hanging out watching yoga videos and talking shop.  Helen grows her own greens, make her own soap, lives a yogic valued life - and she has cancer.  Scary, rotten, cancer.

When she went to see the results of radiation to her sacrum, I took a short video. I meant to take a picture. New camera - wrong setting. Short on nerves and drained of adrenaline, I wasn't much help.

When Helen was in the waiting room, she was called up to the front desk. Shades of being sent to the principal's office. I went. Helen wasn't walking at that point. The woman informed me (she thought I was Helen), that I owed $2, 300.00 dollars. Right then, right there. Before any procedures could continue. My face went stupid.  I returned to Helen, ashen and speechless.  "Oh," she quipped, "they want money. Just tell them I already met my deductible this month with chemo."  I returned and reported. Limp from the insult upon injury.

Stupid Cancer.

We went to the CT room, indignant and still stinging, I took out my phone and felt that documenting this moment might make  it seem less surreal. It had the opposite effect.  Hence movie, not picture.

Helen is one of the fighters.  She has a lot to live for and isn't giving up. Yeah, they want to lop off her other breast. She's not convinced.  Yeah, they treated her with so much radiation her bones turned to 'Swiss cheese' - doctor's comment.  But there are treatments.Interventional Radiologist can put a type of bone cement into fractures. Did you know that?  Helen didn't. Neither did her oncologist.

I had attended an Interventional Radiologist meeting in Arizona, the week before, and talked to my mentor, Suzanne Lindley. She said that she had had many injections of bone cement. Maybe that's how she keeps going, no matter what cancer throws at her, Suzanne finds an answer.

How does yoga play a part in all this? Well, for one thing, I had to keep taking deep breaths to allay my own fears about what Helen was experiencing. I did have matzoh ball chicken soup while Helen was in the CT. But I also allowed tears to mingle with the broth. The idea of emotions overcoming me didn't seem yogic, but I'm not a Buddhist, I'm a yoga teacher and survivor.  Crying seemed like the best thing to do.   I bought some rich desserts and when Helen was done, we dove into lemon squares and strawberry tarts! It was living in the moment! Suzanne and I had hung out in the hotel, ordering room service, and being careful to leave room for a decadent dessert, too.  All this, and breathing into the moment.

Namaste, my friends.

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When I got diagnosed with lymphoma last Feb the bone biopsy came back positive and this placed me in stage IV which was the real freak out.  I was also fighting a MRSA infection - and am amazed at what a nasty bug that was, it got into my bones as well and they replaced my right shoulder at the U of Miami in Sept.  They could not treat the cancer while the MRSA was active, but the joint replacement worked, so they were finally able to start chemo in Dec.  But you know what, the cancer treatment is working.  Sure I'm doing all my hippie stuff, I've got a 21 point system that I try to do daily, TM, asparagus to help make my body more alkaline, walks in the Florida sun to increase Vit D, Thanks and Praises, heck staring at a a picture of Braco (why not).  And I feel great!  I was doing Tai Chi, which I learned in the Chinatown Rec Centre in Vangroovy many years back, and restarted a Yoga practice thanks to Yoga Bear (my nickname up in Banff is Bear - and even sometimes Yogi), although I was a bit leery because the shoulder replacement makes it hard to move on the floor, but I'm taking it easy.  Money - yes a big problem, had to CORBA in my insurance from the City of Key West, get $785 social security disability, and pay $750 for insurance - once chemo is over I'll be back in Alberta and fix that problem.  But hey, Playing all my hunches - to misquote Jimmy Buffett, and a positive attitude is working for me.  Much Love, Namaste Richard.

Hi Richard,

I do understand what you are talking about. My mother was in ICU and got MRSA in her bones; it was difficult to treat. Sounds like you know your body well, and have been treating yourself kindly.  I understand, too, about the starting exercise over in a 'new' body.  Gentle and kind, with ourselves, we keep going as best we can! 

When I was young, I wanted to grow up to be Yogi Bear. In a way, I have done this!  Banff Yogi ji.  "Ji" is added when someone gains a respect for their journey through life!

About insurance, I have a friend who has stage 4 "stable" cancer - oxymoron:) The insurance company wants to retrain him, the State wants to retrain him , too.  He just wants to live.  If he loses his disability, he loses his healthcare. I do pray that 2014 begins to stem this tidal wave of under-insured and not insured.

About lymphoma -  one of my aunts has had it for thirty years - I believe that the advancements in treatments has come to a point, where she will likely die of something else!

Florida sunshine - I'm in San Diego and am still low in vit D...colon cancer patients seem to have this problem.

Welcome to the YB!Thanks for taking the time to respond! I believe you have found your key to healing!
Jean aka Yogi Bear


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