In our final post about Strength, Cancer, and Yoga, I’ll be sharing my own story about prevention. Some things are inevitable. Yoga reminds us that we cannot control everything. What we have to do is practice what we would do when tragedy strikes. We also know that all of our feelings are valid. It is okay to be scared. It is okay to be angry and it is okay to cry.
I just got off the phone scheduling my annual bi-lateral breast MRI. It’s always a hassle. Constant back and forth. Voicemails. The machine is broken. Reschedule. Apparently there is only one person at Walter Reed who runs the appointment system, and if she is unavailable, nothing happens. I’m not going to lie, I am always tempted to say, ‘Hey, I tried!” and call it good.
The reason I have the annual screening is because I have the BRCA 1 gene mutation which highly increases my likelihood of developing Breast and Ovarian cancer. I chose to have genetic testing done based on my family history of breast and ovarian cancer on the maternal side. My test came back positive for the mutation while my sister’s came back negative. We are still encouraging my brother to have the test, but like most young men, he feels invincible. Angelina Jolie famously elected to have a double mastectomy and remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes as a result of testing positive for the mutation.
Many people avoid the test because they fear the outcome.
However, I found the results empowering; now I have options. I also know the alternative. I have seen the havoc that our current treatments do to the body if you are lucky enough to catch things in time. Having access to this test is a privilege. It also has limits. There are currently no tests to find ovarian cancer in early stages. The only prevention method is surgery.
My yoga practice gives me perspective by teaching me I can survive discomfort and fear. Yoga helps me meditate inside the MRI machine and breathe through the IV placement. More importantly, everyday I learn to listen to the signals of the body. My hope is that if and anything is wrong, I will hear it. Through my practice I have gained the courage to advocate for myself when the time comes and the strength to get through it.
Thank you to those who shared their stories with us in October. If you have any questions about how yoga can be a part of your healing or prevention journey, let us know. Refresh Yoga Center is a committed to creating a peaceful space in Old Town Alexandria.