I have a deep, scary, vulnerable (and probably very surprising) story to share. One that I have been hiding for a long time. But I want to share it with you now because I have finally come to the other side of it and I have gifts to share.
I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colorectal Cancer in August 2017 and spent the following year in the throws of the insanity that is cancer treatment. All while running a practice called The Thriving Body.
It seems like a really bad joke. I spent an entire year, so incredibly far from the idea of a “thriving body”, being physically broken down again and again through treatment. Even the idea that I could have cancer at such a young age, with such a healthy lifestyle, and no family history felt extra cruel.
One of the brightest thoughts that kept me going was that, no matter what my body went through, no matter how broken I felt through chemotherapy, radiation, and 4 abdominal surgeries, I would learn how to heal and be whole again and then I would help others to do the same.
I’m almost 6 months out from my last surgery that marked the end of treatment, my scans are clear, and I’m finally stepping back into my strength once again.
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to go on an all-expense-paid ice climbing adventure in Vail, CO with other young adult cancer survivors through an amazing organization called First Descents (www.firstdescents.org). Ice climbing is not exactly something I’ve ever been interested in, but I do love the FD motto “Out Living It!”, and am generally up for meeting new people and adventuring in the mountains.
Like all of the treatments for cancer these days, ice climbing is completely insane. When people ask me if it was fun, I have to laugh. “Fun” is not the word I would use. It was ultimately an amazing experience, BUT am I planning on doing it again? Nope! I'm good.
It was terrifying! The second day, when I was climbing a vertical wall of ice (East Vail Falls), almost 3 times higher than our practice run the day before, learning on the wall how to use two ice picks for the first time (have you ever tried to swing a hammer with your non dominant hand?!), I was breathing hard, physically pushing my limits, and cursing obscenities of excitement mixed with fear the whole long, exhausting way up. I had even decided when I started, that I wasn’t going all the way... that it was too much for me… and that it was fine if I didn’t make it to the top. But when I got over the first ridge, I just took a little break, took a few more intense freak out breaths, and powered on, slowly and carefully without looking down.
It’s so interesting because you can’t really ever trust the ice completely (or at least at this novice level you don’t!). It’s crazy to think your entire body weight is perching on a few millimeters of metal that you have just kicked into breakable ice. Then while you are perched, barely gripping the ice with your toes, you have to fully stand on your feet to reach up and hammer into the ice with a pick. This sometimes shatters ice in your face, sometimes just slides sideways without making a strong dent (even with your good arm!), and occasionally gets a solid hit and finally feels supported enough to hold your body weight while you inch your feet a little higher to start the process over. Meanwhile, the ice picks are heavy, my left arm is clumsy overhead, and did I mention I just had my final surgery less than 6 months ago?!
Through the cursing, the deep breaths, and the insanity of clinging high up on a frozen waterfall, I made it to the top. That place that I knew I couldn’t reach when I started. When I got back down on solid ground, I wanted to roll around on it and kiss the earth (except that I would have rolled off the edge of the next ridge!). I yelled and screamed and celebrated. I made it! To make it up I had to learn to take breaks when I could, that it was okay to lean into the harness, and to take it one tiny movement at a time. Not to see the impossibility of the full climb.
I just can’t help but draw parallels between that climb and my cancer journey.
If you’ve ever watched someone go through it, you know that the treatment is often worse than the disease in many ways.
There were so many places along the way that I had to face my demons head on, walk straight into my biggest fears, and keep going. I had to slow down and take it moment to moment, to sit with the fear, to find my breath, to learn how to let go, to not look too far ahead or too far back, and relearn how to accept support.
And it feels similar being back on solid ground again. To be able to trust my body to carry me through life’s adventures. I just want to victory dance all over the place screaming “I’M ALIVE!!!!”
I climbed a hell of a lot more than that wall of ice in the past year, and it has changed me.
I know what it feels like to feel broken, to start from zero, to be smacked down over and over and over again and every time, I put myself back together again, over and over.
This is what I am bringing to the table.
This is how I would love to help heal the world.
This is what I bring to every offering, every program, and every session.
This is how I would love to support you.
In so many ways, my journey is far from over. But for now, I am back on solid ground. And the view is spectacular!
I have learned SO much this past year, about the medical system and the gaps that exist between treatment and healing, about the resiliency of the human body to thrive and recover, if given the right circumstances, about my own strength and fear and body and spirit, and I look forward to sharing all of it with you over time.
But here’s where we start. It is all the most basic tools and habits I used to get from the ICU to dancing again, from neuropathy (that Dr’s said I couldn’t do anything about) to full sensation, from a locked up pelvis and hamstrings after radiation and surgery to full freedom, from being at my weakest to climbing an ice wall.
I’m calling it Daily Movement Adventures 30 Day Challenge.
This is not just a 30 day challenge. It’s a bigger movement about being alive and living more fully. It’s a fun wake up call to the movements you are starting to lose and get you moving them again for good. It’s about taking all of it back and living and moving fully and without pain and limitation. It’s about knowing yourself and your body and living in your own skin with confidence and connection. It’s about seeing first hand the amazing potential for your body to deeply truly CHANGE no matter how stuck or broken you may feel. And I can tell you from personal experience-- it works.
Why should you join us on this 30 day adventure?
Because you are too often stiff and achy (you are too young to feel this old!).
Because life feels better when you can move freely and without pain and limitation.
Because you don’t have a lot of “extra” time for “exercise”.
Because you want to feel GOOD doing the things you LOVE!
Because you feel, or have ever felt broken (injury, pregnancy, age, surgery, cancer etc).
Because you are ready for change, but aren’t sure where to start.
Because you have been feeling a little stuck or stagnant in your life.
Because you are pounding it out at the gym and ending up with more tension and injury.
Because you are ALIVE and want to get the most out of every moment for as long as possible!
What will you take with you if you complete the challenge with us?
Reduced pain, stiffness, and tension all over.
Increased flexibility and strength in ways you didn’t think were possible.
Improved whole body alignment.
A deeper awareness and connection in you body.
Increased confidence to move on to your next movement adventure.
A new healthier relationship to “exercise”.
New habits that have easily found a permanent place in your everyday life.
What do you have to lose? It’s free!
I have just been through the most terrifying, most challenging, most physically debilitating journey of my life, but I have come through to the other side bearing so many gifts. This is one of them. This is where it all begins.
We start March 6th. Great timing in so many ways - riding through the new moon cycle, nourishing some of you through the lenten season, and giving us all a head start on some deep, full body, spring cleaning.
Sign up if you are so called and share far and wide! Who couldn’t use a fresh start about now?
Find more details and sign up HERE.
With love and gratitude,