World Cancer Day is an international day marked on February 4th to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. In light of this upcoming day, we are grateful to share this powerful insight from True Nature Leader, Robyn Tiger.
Robyn is a Physician, Certified Yoga Therapist, and Founder of Yoga Heals 4 Life serving those touched by cancer, anxiety, and stress-related disorders. She is faculty for Trauma-Informed Yoga Therapy, the Medical Resource Director for Journey To Be Free (a nonprofit serving the cancer community), and serves on the Advisory Council for Yoga Therapy Today and yogatherapy.health. Robyn serves those touched by cancer, anxiety, and stress-related disorders.
Surviving or Thriving? The Cancer Journey, Chapter 3
As a physician, I spent many years in Diagnostic Radiology with a focus on Women’s Imaging. It was my job as the “doctor’s doctor” to help clinicians identify what was causing their patient’s symptoms. Through a multitude of imaging modalities and biopsies, I searched for what was responsible, often discovering cancer. Although patients were incredibly grateful for my “saving their lives”, I visualized their situations quite differently having repeatedly watched the downward spiraling negative transformation that subsequently took place. I see this process, the cancer journey, as divided into 3 continuous chapters, the 3 rd chapter frequently being the most challenging and difficult.
Cancer Journey – Chapter 1
When do individuals first become cancer survivors? The moment they hear the words: “you have cancer” their lives are forever changed. Questions, fears, and concerns fill their thoughts and every part of their being. Life as they know it comes to a standstill. Many of my patients have described this chapter as the rug being pulled out from under them.
Cancer Journey – Chapter 2
The rush to cure begins. Treatment plans are created and put into fruition as soon as possible. Now its full steam ahead with a multitude of doctor’s appointments and additional testing followed by treatment, often a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. What are the consequences? These state-of-the-art treatments, although wonderful for treating the cancer, frequently result in physical limitations, emotional distress, and dampened spirit.
Cancer Journey – Chapter 3
After treatment, cancer survivors are released, free to go on with their lives, no longer under the rigid watch of their medical team. But instead of moving forward carefree…the opposite occurs. The stress response takes over instead of declining, reaching its highest peak of the journey. It is common in this chapter for survivors to be the most fearful, full of anxiety and worry, concerned if the cancer has truly left their bodies, if it will return, or if they will develop another. They feel completely lost and helpless, wanting desperately to be in control and take action to make changes for a healthier life, but they just don’t know how.
Through many years of close observation, I realized that a large portion of patient care was missing: How do we help patients heal? What do we do to help individuals beyond their disease? What resources can we provide to educate them particularly during “Chapter 3” of their cancer journey when they are most in need of this support? I was completely lost as to how to be of help. I knew that my job as a doctor was not nearly complete. Simply diagnosing cancer was not enough. Then I found my answer to fill this hole in-patient care: yoga & meditation.
Medical research has proven that specialized yoga practices diminish the side effects of cancer therapies during and after treatment. In addition, they significantly decrease stress levels, improve overall well-being, and increase longevity. Cancer survivors learn how to get in the driver’s seat and put the rug back underneath themselves, process what has happened, and be ready for whatever may come, in essence, to truly thrive.
My colleague and dear friend, Kathleen Ross-Allee, and I are both Certified Yoga Therapists, specialty trained and experienced in cancer recovery. We adapt and create safe and effective variations for every body, individualizing yoga and meditation practices to meet the needs of each person. We understand the need to include certain practices to lessen and reverse cancer treatment side effects and to exclude certain practices that could exacerbate an already existing side effect.
Together, our deep passion in serving this population has inspired the creation of a life-changing retreat for much-needed recovery and renewal in “Chapter 3” of the cancer journey. While immersed in the sense of comfort and community that a retreat setting provides, we teach individuals how to safely and effectively use yoga and meditation tools as lifestyle medicine. After experiencing firsthand, the benefits of these tools on retreat, they are able to confidently cultivate and implement a daily home practice. They leave feeling revived and empowered full
Are you or someone you love ready to take the next step for a more complete, healthy fulfilling life? Take an active role in your journey to healing! Join us this August in the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. Let us guide you in the transformation from cancer survivor to cancer thriver!
“You had the power all along, my dear!” –Glinda
From Survivor to Thriver: A Healing Journey for Cancer Recovery
Yoga Therapy & Meditation Retreat with Robyn and Kathleen
August 22 – 27, 2020
Asheville, North Carolina