Last year, we were joined on the radio show by four women who shared their personal stories of discovering and living well with chronic conditions. All four are in the health and wellness field and use their personal journeys to help others find their own pathways to well-being.
Karen was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and has changed the path of her well-being as a yoga teacher. She saw many doctors over a period of a year and half to determine what was wrong with her. Karen was given so much medication that she ended up feeling worse. She had tried yoga years before and decided to give it another chance. It ended up being her yoga practice that really changed things and led her to going off of all of her medication. Karen’s message is that you can take control of your health with yoga.
Karen has since become a yoga teacher and has shared her practice with many other women. During a breast cancer walk she had the idea to create a pink yoga products line to benefit breast cancer and as a result, created her company, Embrace Activism.
Karen believes that yoga can dramatically change anyone’s life. She believes it’s a gateway to living a healthy lifestyle by being more aware of what your body is feeling which leads you to making better choices.
Lauren was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Her cancer was slow growing, giving her time to decide how she would move forward – whether it was a mastectomy, double mastectomy, etc. She describes herself as an information junkie and got lots of information online about her treatment options. Lauren says that she had a great group of physician advisors to support her. She decided on flap reconstruction and ended up with had the best possible surgery outcome and recovery. Part of this she attributes to moving as much as possible after surgery and also drinking a lot of water. Her cancer was estrogen sensitive, so she needed to use estrogen inhibitors which gave her hammer fingers where so had very limited use of her hands.
Lauren says her medicine is her good health. She also had great support including her partner who stuck by her side. She’s very active and does cardio, pilates, and also added meditation to her routine. She also gets good sleep. Lauren says that she thinks of food differently now – she thinks of it as nourishment, instead of “filling the cavity” and she attributes this mindset to wellness. Lauren is now sharing what she has learned through her coaching practice.
Ellen was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer had a bi-lateral mastectomy. After losing her mother to breast cancer and the breast cancer diagnosis of her sister, she became determined to learn everything about the disease possible, to beat it on her own.
She researched cancer and learned that it requires a certain environment to grow – she had a high stress job and exercised to extremes to escape the stress, which just created more stress on her body. Ellen learned that everything you put in your body is either supporting or suppressing the development of cancer. She uses the 80/20 rule of eating really well 80% of the time. Ellen knows that she has a lot of control over her health and cancer, which is very empowering. She ended up with great doctors who allowed her to make many choices along the way. Ellen is also proud of the team effort of care she had at home with her husband and young kids who helped her recover.
Ellen believes in getting people the best care so that they have choices and don’t have to just “follow what the doctor ordered”. Ellen now coaches people to do everything they can to keep a health body and teaches using mind/body techniques and how to eat well.
Laurie experienced migraines, tingling nerves, numbness, pain, and strange sensations for many years. Her doctor found MS lesions on her brain, but was she was unable to get a clear diagnosis. As a nurse, she was very familiar with MS after treating patients and other fellow nurses who had it, so she pressed on visiting numerous doctors along the way and was told by several doctors to “just live with it”. After a extremely frustrating 8 year period, she was officially diagnosed with MS.
She went on several medications as well as chemotherapy, but didn’t see much help. She had two small children and ended up leaving her marriage. Since leaving her marriage, Laurie has not had a relapse. She controls her symptoms with stress control, good diet, and exercise. Laurie says that she feels very grateful for feeling better, being able to move her body, and being able to do everyday things. She now has a healthy relationship with her ex-husband. She attributes getting back to simple living – the way our ancestors did – to her wellness. In addition to nursing, she is a fitness trainer and health and wellness coach.
Click here to listen to the original podcast.