Tell us a bit about your background and upbringing. Were you raised in a Christian home, or did you find your faith later?
Tell us about your yoga background.
I lived most of my adult life in a fight-or-flight space. Wired and tired, with heart constantly pounding and thoughts always racing.
There was an outdoor, donation-based yoga class in my town that I’d always wanted to try, and somehow, I got brave enough to take my introverted self alone to see what yoga is like. Like most people, I was worried about the usual things: I’m not flexible, I’m in my 40s, what if I can’t do the poses, will I make a fool of myself?
But I successfully made it to Savasana in this very first experience with yoga! I remember lying on my mat, looking up at the clouds and thinking, what is this magic? I feel like I’ve just had a giant drink of Oxygen. I feel so calm, and my heart is going at an appropriate pace. Walking back to my car, I noticed my shoulders were down where they belonged rather than up by my ears. I felt taller.
Tell us about finding out you had breast cancer.
In July 2019, we had just finished an intense and bittersweet season of our youngest daughter’s Senior prom and graduation and our oldest daughter’s bridal shower and wedding. A week after the wedding, when I’d finally had a chance to allow my soul to catch up to my body, I noticed a lump in my left breast. Huh. That’s weird. A cyst, maybe? I’ll call first thing in the morning.
The exam turned into a referral for an ultrasound and a diagnostic mammogram. Ok…
I was 42 and was not great at making appointments for my health because there “just wasn’t time.” So, I’d not yet had a routine mammogram, as the average woman should start doing at 40. This diagnostic mammogram was my first one. And now, this Doctor in imaging would like to do a biopsy. Ok…
My husband and I would be celebrating our 24th anniversary in a week, and we were looking forward to this break, camping for the weekend in our beautiful Pacific Northwest. As we were out exploring our surroundings, we were standing in a doughnut shop, and I was excited about the apple fritter I was about to order (because I have an apple fritter problem). My Doctor’s office finally called with the results. “It’s cancer”, she said. She said other things, too, but I had to call her back and ask her to repeat those things because I heard nothing else after the word cancer.
I spent that first week after the diagnosis telling my kids that their mother had cancer. Telling my parents that their daughter had cancer. Telling my inner circle the news… Lots and lots of phone calls, texts, and emails. And I kept telling everyone, “It’s OK. I will be ok.” I was used to caring for my people and didn’t want anyone worrying about me.
At the end of this first week, I went to a yoga class. The instructor invited us to come to our backs on the mat. The moment I did, tears streamed down into my ears. It was the first time I’d been inside my body the whole week. I realized I was not ok. And I need to be the one being taken care of right now.
After going through the motions of seeing a surgeon, an oncologist, and a radiation oncologist, I was told the plan was to have a lumpectomy followed by radiation, likely five days a week for six weeks. No lumps were felt under the arm, so chemotherapy was not likely. Ok. I can do this.
When having a lumpectomy, lymph nodes from under the arm are removed to see if the cancer is contained or has spread. In August, my surgeon removed two lymph nodes along with the cancerous lump that rocked my world. One lymph node had cancer. So now chemotherapy is inevitable. Ok… I did not sign up for this.
In September, I had my port put in. I did a power move and got the sassy-pants haircut I’d always wanted to try. If I hated it, it would all be gone in 3 weeks anyway. I loved it more than anything, so now I had goals for after.
In October of 2019, when I was supposed to be training for my 200-hour yoga certification, I was sitting in the chair, having a crazy chemo cocktail pumped into me. I did this every other Friday from October- early January. God, did I misunderstand you? I was SURE you asked me to train to be a yoga instructor.
After surviving the extreme effects of the chemotherapy, I was given a month to get my bearings before beginning the six weeks of radiation. And in March 2020, the last week of my radiation treatment, the world shut down.
While it was a crazy time, and everyone’s experience was different, I had been through the wringer and was thankful for time to rest and recover. And I was sad that there was no closure. I wanted a “No One Fights Alone” party to thank my support system and celebrate, but I wasn’t allowed to be within 6 feet of anyone, and gatherings were not allowed. (I later got the closest thing to closure when I got a tattoo that says, “Nothing Is Wasted.”)
How did your faith play into your fight against breast cancer?
I often say regardless of how this played out, God healed me. He even healed me of cancer. I learned what true surrender is. I realized where I was wrongly assigning value and what I was allowing to take God’s place on the throne of my heart. I discovered areas in my life that I had convinced myself were just fine, only to be invited to look deeper. I learned that God truly does mourn with those who mourn. I learned how to trust God at a cellular level.
I’d always wanted to write, but I didn’t know who my audience was, I didn’t know what my topic should be, and I didn’t have a platform. I now had a topic; I used a blog to process my emotions and experience, as well as to keep my people updated. Because I worked in the front office of an elementary school, I had a rather large community of people interested in how I was doing. So, my “audience” was primarily made up of people I interacted with daily in a public school setting where I had to filter my faith. My blog became the platform where I shared my faith with no filter. I shared the rawest version of myself, which included a faith that was growing stronger as my body was growing weaker. All eyes were watching, and I got to see how I navigated this trauma with genuine faith, genuine grief, and a very loving God. It wasn’t the writing gig I’d expected, but it was the best experience. Nothing is wasted!
My faith also allowed me to discover how this illness God consented for me to experience was part of the assignment. I DID hear him correctly. He DID want me to become certified in Christ-centered yoga. He just needed to introduce me to an entire demographic of people who need the benefits of yoga. October 2020 was a beautiful time of going into my 200-hour training with new eyes and a purpose. Not only did I get my 200-hour certification, but I wanted more. In 2021, I received my 500-hour Master’s certificate from YogaFaith, and I am passionate about connecting with people, especially survivors, with the gift of yoga.
You are a HUGE advocate for a plant-based lifestyle. Tell us how you incorporated that into your lifestyle and how it has helped you on your journey.
As most people who face a health crisis do, I began taking a purposeful approach to my health. After I completed treatment, I discovered that we are never told we are cured. We never get to hear that the cancer is gone. There’s no way to guarantee this. So, we are told that “everything looks good” and hope for the best. While I am thankful for what cancer has taught me, it’s not something I want to repeat. Always interested in the natural side of things, I began listening to podcasts like “Christ Beat Cancer” by Chris Wark and reading books like “Breasts: The Owner’s Manual” by Dr. Kristi Funk. (Both are Christ-followers, by the way!) The more podcasts I listened to and books I read, the more I saw the common thread about a plant-based lifestyle being the key to fighting cancer.
To be clear, plant-based doesn’t have to mean being a vegetarian or vegan. It means making plants the star of your plate. But because hormones drove my cancer, I made the decision that I would not eat or drink anything with animal hormones. I’m not interested in having out-of-control hormones in my body ever again. I want to put things at the end of my fork that will work for my body and not against it. And, let’s face it- America is not the most responsible when it comes to producing animal products for food.
What a difference! The bloating, lethargy, and guilt are gone. I enjoy eating and eating plants to my heart’s content. I want to be precise. I am not perfect. I love apple fritters and chocolate far too much to be perfect. But my brush with death has allowed me to keep that in check most of the time. And when I do eat off-script, I feel it in my body, which is a good learning tool. And then, I return to what I know is working for me.
I love the name “Street Cred,” tell us where that came from and how it has helped you identify and connect with other people with breast cancer.
My cancer journey forced me into menopause. The hot flashes were unreal. My oncologist prescribed me an anti-anxiety medication that was also shown to help with hot flashes. Having never had a medication like this, I was afraid and didn’t take it. At my subsequent follow-up, my oncologist was not in, so I saw a Physician’s Assistant, who happened also to be a Survivor. Once again, I lamented the hot flashes. She let me know about the anti-anxiety med that was also shown to help with hot flashes. She said that probably 80% of her young survivors also found it helpful for its primary purpose in addition to helping with the hot flashes. Because she was a survivor, I took it to heart and decided to try it because she had Street Cred… Did I just find the name for my practice?? Indeed, I did! Besides relief from the hot flashes at that time, I also continue to benefit from its anti-anxiety benefits. No more wired-and-tired for this girl.
To me, Street Cred is that thing we have on our unspoken resume that we can speak with authority on. For me, it’s sharing with and encouraging others going through breast cancer. I’ve been through it, so when I speak about it, others recognize that I know what I’m talking about at a level others won’t. Someone else might have Street Cred in depression or perhaps child loss. If we allow God to give us beauty for ashes, we can use the experience He brought us through to walk alongside someone else going through the same experience. How beautiful.
Tell us about home life and family outside of the wellness world.
I love 80s music, coffee, thrifting, and apologetics.
I’m a left-brain creative with too many ideas.
In 2010, I was certified in Family Herbalism, and I love using this knowledge to make herbal goodies for my home apothecary and online shop.
I am trying my hand at being a vintage reseller because I love beautiful old things, and I am a low-key hoarder who needs to rescue said items and find them new homes!
Favorite Bible verse?
Psalm 61:2-4 (NLT)
From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, 3 for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. 4 Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings!
Best advice for someone going through cancer?
Feel your feelings.
Take it one moment at a time.
Lean into the Great Physician, Jehova Rapha, and be honest about your feelings. He can take it.
Best advice for anyone for building a deeper relationship with God.
The best way to build a deeper relationship with anyone is to spend quality time with them. God is no exception. DIG into the Bible, His Word. (Especially the Psalms if you are at a low point.) Pray without ceasing- Have conversations with him any time you’re thinking of Him. (But be a listener, not just a talker.) If you’ve been God curious and aren’t sure how to proceed, 1 John 1:9 (NLT) says, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness,” and Acts 16:31 (NLT) says, ” “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” This is the best healing a person can ask for.
Favorite yoga pose and why?
Thread the needle (Urdhva Mukha Pasasana)! Radiation has made my chest wall tighten, which has made my neck and back tighten, and range of motion with my left arm is something to pay attention to. Threading the needle feels so good.
Is there anything I should have asked you but didn’t?
I want to say that sharing our stories takes away the power of fear and replaces it with the power of encouraging others and finding purpose in the pain. Let it out. I will also say that humor is necessary to get through all the unexpected things life throws our way.