I Em Strong...but I need your help

$3,386 of $3,000 goal

Raised by 63 people in 21 months

By supporting me and this campaign, you will be helping women with breast cancer as I do one or all of the following:

-will volunteer with oncology centers, hospitals, and non-profits
-create programs specifically geared towards women healing from breast cancer (and treatment)
-help empower women through yoga and it's philosophies

Here's my story...

It was a cold, rainy Sunday morning in February. February 22nd, 2015 to be exact.

I stood in front of my kitchen sink feeling the weight of the Sunday blues and the sorrow of the dark sky in my heart. My mind flashed back to a sunny day that past June when I was lunching under the blue sky with my fellow yoga teacher training sistas. Somehow as we consumed our tacos, we had gotten on the subject of self breast checks.

“Ew!” I said. “I hate them. Of course, everyone has some lumps/bumps. I would rather not freak out about what is probably nothing. So, I just don’t do them. ”

“Emily!” exclaimed my friend, Erica, “You know your body best.” I ignored her...or at least I thought I had.

On Sunday, February 22nd, 2015, I listened. Right there in the kitchen, I threw my left arm up and did my first self breast check. I found a lump. 31 days, an ultrasound, a mammogram, and a biopsy later, driving home from work, I pulled over to answer a call from a breast surgeon. As she delivered the results from the biopsy, she used the “c” word. The surgeon said her nurse would be calling me to set up an appointment for next week. (A week!) We hung up the phone. I called my mom. She picked up after one ring. In between sobs, I blubbered out, “Mom, I have cancer.”

The next seven days were the most surreal days of my life. My thoughts were consumed with cancer and what the f I was going to do. When I woke up in the morning, when I went to bed at night, driving to work, driving home from work, sitting in meetings, spending time with family and friends, spending time alone, in yoga, in mediation. All. The. Time. Was it just in my boob? Was it everywhere? Am I going to die? Will I need chemo? Will I be bald? Am I willing to go through chemo? What the f am I going to do? What the f am I going to do? What the f am I going to do?

Seven days later, my loved ones and I spent six hours with a team of doctors. The biopsy indicated the cells were triple negative, which (apparently) is the hardest type of cancer to treat. They recommended surgery, chemo, radiation, and endocrine therapy. Basically, blast my body with anything and everything. (Chemo seemed scary but radiation frightened me.) I was so conflicted. How could I accept practices that blew my immune system when I needed it the most? How could I accept practices that added toxicity to my body when I needed to rid toxic substances? But then...how could I not?

Then during one of my sessions with my beloved counselor, she handed me a book. “Em, I want you to read this.” I looked down at the cover. Insert judgemental mind - this book looks like it was from 1970. I mean look at that cover! I gave it a shot anyway.

“Peace, Love, and Healing,” by Dr. Bernie Siegel ended up being monumental in my healing journey. Bernie asks his patients, “Why do you need this disease?” And so I soul searched...

I have lived a lot of my life/put so much energy into - trying to be - maybe even striving to be - who I thought I SHOULD be.  As a woman, as a sister, as a daughter, as a cousin, as a lover, as a friend, as a professional. I read self improvement books like mad; I was consumed with self growth - how to be that “right” person.

Who was I on 2/22/15? Even with all that “work,” I was a dim version of Em. Over time, I had given away my power. I gave it to my partner; I gave it to my job; I gave it to the idea of where I thought I should be (where I definitely  wasn't); I gave it to others ideas of who I should be; I gave it to my inner critic; I gave it to...and the list goes on (and on and on). Then, boob cancer gave me a swift kick in the a. It said to me - EM - look at your life - and take your f-ing power back. And I did...slowly. I chose to keep the people in my life who were strong enough to be with me, who didn't hide, who didn't avoid, who didn't make my situation about them.

I chose to start researching all sorts of treatment options. I chose to rock the baldie. I accepted chemo and then I chose to stop chemo. I chose to opt out of radiation. I chose to break up with my oncologist (who told me God called her to do this work...what does God have to do with it? This is about MY life, MY body and MY choices, not about YOUR God). I chose to not participate in endocrine therapy. I chose to leave my job. I chose to do yoga. I chose to meditate. I chose to put drops of Frankincense under my tongue. I chose to drink bone broth every day. I chose to swim. I chose to color. I chose to read. I chose to journal. I chose to write thank you notes stuffed with You are Beautiful stickers. (Want one? I would love to send you one!)

(card below created by Bubby and Bean)

I chose, I chose, I chose.

I truly believe that how women choose to heal - what methods and who they choose to work with (or not) is an individual choice. SHE is the only one who knows what is right for her! (Scary as s. Empowering as s).

However, I am biased about one thing. I am pretty sure that most (if not all) can benefit from the healing power of yoga (and maybe also from the power of Bernie’s words). Having practiced yoga for more than 10 years, the one thing I knew for sure is that yoga would be 100% be part of my healthcare plan. While in treatment, every morning, I would get up and practice for at least fifteen minutes. My props (blocks, pillows, blankets) and my Yoga for Cancer book were tucked in the corner of my bedroom. Depending on the day, the symptoms, the course of treatment, I would choose poses that promoted detoxification, strengthened the immune system, increased flexibility, and/or relaxed the body and mind.

Your donation would allow me to complete a yoga training specifically for cancer thrivers and to serve as a yoga/wellness coach for individual women who see yoga (and maybe Bernie’s words) as a choice in their healing plan - to help heal their mind, body, heart, and soul.  

PS. Thank you, thank you, thank you! 

PPS. You are beautiful!


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Hey hey parT peeps!

I'm done with the online portion of my online Yoga 4 Cancer training and am about to wrap it (all the way) up in person in Boulder this weekend.

I'm looking for a couple of people who would like to work w me for a couple of complimentary sessions (remotely and in Austin). #payitforward

If you or someone you know seems like a good fit : let's chat! Contact me.
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Hey hey!

So, a couple of days ago was International Pay It Forward Day...

I'm done with the online portion of my online Yoga 4 Cancer training and am about to wrap it up in person in Boulder this weekend.

I'm looking for a couple of people who would like to work w me for a couple of complimentary sessions (remotely and in Austin). #payitforward

Check out : http://www.iemstrong.com/work-w-me/

If you or someone you know seems like a good fit, let's chat!

Message me.

XO, Em

+ Read More
Today was day one of the online portion of the training I'm participating in - Yoga 4 Cancer. Thanks for your support to help me help yoga be part of women's healthcare. XO!
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$3,386 of $3,000 goal

Raised by 63 people in 21 months
Created February 22, 2017
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Lisbeth Davis
20 months ago

I'd love to hear what you are learning, Em! Best to you.

Alyssa Morgan
20 months ago

Your story made me tear up AND it made me smile. Be well and enjoy your retreat!

Peggy Reduker
20 months ago

What a wonderful effort, Mem!

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