Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Breathe through it

I can't believe it's just past eight o'clock and already nearly dark outside. Summer is slipping by so quickly and in just a few weeks we will welcome autumn. After a torrid weekend, today Seattle has reminded us of it's weather preference: clouds and rain. But curiously I'm ready for fall this year. Apple cider, pumpkin spice lattes, caramel everything, tall boots, and sweaters have me piqued and anticipating the equinox.

A recent visit with my chiropractor left a profound impact on my spirit. I've mentioned my ups and downs and instability. I'm generally not one who has turned to alternative medicine, but throughout my journey with cancer I've adapted the attitude that it certainly can't hurt, and come to discover that it can certainly provide a type of healing that modern medicine cannot. I've been seeing my chiropractor once or twice a week to help with the debilitating neck pain I've had as a result of muscle spasms from scar tissue. We tried a lot of different modalities of treatment, and now my pain is almost completely resolved. This doctor uses a holistic approach, including applied kinesiology. During one appointment he did a test that revealed a deep psychological link to my neck pain. And he offered me the following advice: to breathe. To allow my emotions and fears to come, and breathe through them, whether they are blissful or unnerving.

He asked me to visualize myself in the happiest place possible, full and radiant and healthy. And then breathe. I closed my eyes and immediately saw myself dancing. I was leaping and pirouetting and jete-ing across a stage, more virile than ever before. But just as easily as that image came, I was suddenly the dying swan - staggering, falling, collapsing. I shook the image from my head. This time came the vision of myself on my wedding day, enrobed in white tulle, full of joy and anticipation on what will be the happiest day of my life. And then seconds later, as I saw myself dancing in my new husband's arms, I was gently fading, shrinking, collapsing into those arms. Breathe in, breathe out. 

I never imagined how hard it would be to hold an image of health and vibrance in my head. The practice of breathing through the difficult stuff is of course not new to me: it is what we practice in yoga. Every movement is about controlled breathing, controlled thought, and focus. When we are in an uncomfortable pose we breathe through it. We use that pose to learn how to get through the discomfort, to find the good in every moment. And we use our breath to help us through. 

So though it may seem like rather simple advice, I've found it a great help to me. When I feel a dark thought or fear creep into my mind, I let it be there, and I breathe through it, and get comfortable in it, and find serenity in that moment. And in no time at all it's gone, and the next joyful hope is upon me. And I breathe through it, too.

Don't forget to breathe.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Greetings loves,

The past few weeks have been astonishingly busy. We just got home from an inspiring weekend in Portland where I had the privilege of attending the Vida Vegan Conference. I'm utterly exhausted from a jam-packed weekend of learning, networking, and best of all, eating. The conference was for vegan bloggers, and I had a marvelous time attending lectures, panels, and workshops on everything vegan and writing. You know you're with a bunch of bloggers when you sit down for lunch and everybody whips out their camera to take 20 photos of their food before eating. Even though the focus of many of the classes was food blogging, I also came away with improved writing skills and tips on vegan living. Perhaps someday I'll venture into food blogging.

The most enlivening part of my weekend was meeting a woman who has inspired me very much over the past few years, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. She was engaging to talk with and gave a speech that certainly moved every person in the room. She signed her new book, The 30 Day Vegan Challenge, for me, and I can't recommend it highly enough if you're looking for a challenge in your life, or maybe to improve your health, or are just curious what it's all about. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to spend a weekend surrounded by a couple hundred of the most compassionate people...people who get it - who feel the same as I do - to whom I don't need to explain myself. 

I hadn't been in Portland in nearly a year, I think. It shocks me to realize that I've now lived in Seattle for just as long as I had lived in Portland for. Of course not much has changed in the two years since I've moved away, but it still felt a bit foreign to be there. The city seemed so much smaller than I remembered, and yet just as vibrant as ever. Perhaps a small part of me misses it, but I was also so pleased to see the Seattle skyline as we returned home. Seattle really is home now.



Tuesday, August 23, 2011


What a ride my life has been these past couple of weeks. My hormone levels have been all over the place. One day I'm feeling great and energized, the next I worry I might burst into tears for no reason or struggle to make it out of bed. I was wondering if it was just me, but after connecting with a lot of other thyroid cancer survivors on the thyca survivors' message boards, as well as talking with one of my own patients who has had a total thyroidectomy, I learned that this is what happens. It has to do with the way your body metabolizes your meds, and it seems that everyone I've communicated with has the same problem. The solution is only to make the very best of every moment that we can. As I try to do every day.

Our family was stunned by some shocking news last week. My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After a year full of bad enough news, you begin to think that nothing else could possibly go wrong. Indeed, this was the very last thing I expected to hear. But cancer doesn't care how old you are, or who you are, or if your family has had more than it's share of devastation for one year.

While it hurts and burns to know that someone I love dearly has to go through what I've experienced, it is also in some way like I've got someone who understands my journey more clearly than any non cancer survivor could. The fear & shock with the initial diagnosis. The feeling of knowledge of a poison living inside your body. The want to get it out, to make it go away. The impression of complete loss of control over your life.

And I know what he'll be feeling as his journey continues. The longing for your pre-cancer life back. The fear at every sniffle or bump...is it cancer? Soon everything will look like poison. Did that toothpaste cause my cancer? My coffee? Lotion? The utter yet indescribable appreciation for every moment spent surrounded by the ones you love, or for life's small but overwhelmingly beautiful moments. Not that people without cancer can't experience those emotions. But cancer gives you a new perspective no matter who you were before.

If you take anything from this post, please let it be to live your life according to your beliefs. Live passionately and with joy. Give yourself the best chance at a full life as you can: eat organic, exercise, and be healthy. And make the choice to truly live.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011



the Pacific Northwest has been romancing me with it's delicious sunshine...and it's hard not to be madly in love with life and everything surrounding it. Our weekend included the cruise in the San Juans aboard the lovely sailing vessel Anam Cara, and a round trip flight to Friday Harbor in a private plane, courtesy of my papa. Both from the air and on the water it was an easy reminder just what a beautiful place I am fortunate enough to reside in. 

Fueled by raw nourishment, I've been spending lots of time in yoga and zumba, while trying to make as much time for friends as possible and still working extra shifts to make up for all of the time I've missed at work. 

A picture from our stop in Roche Harbor...


Lisa Rose