One Word That Shakes a Resilient Woman

You can never tell what the person beside you is going through.”They make broken look beautiful, strong look invincible. They may walk with the universe on their shoulders and make it look like a pair of wings”. Be kind and compassionate always. It costs $0!

Today, I would like to share with you a story, close to home, from the Sukha Community. A real story of a resilient, beautiful, brave, intelligent, healthy woman. This story will empower and educate you. Thank you Lori for sharing you story. xoxoxo

I am a very resilient woman.  As a I child, I did not have money.  In fact, I was the poor kid in a rich town.  I did not have a father, he struggled with addiction and lost everything including us.  I did not have enough structure at home to create a strong academic foundation, so I was placed in low level classes despite my high IQ.  I also did not have role models who were like me. I was a gay child, growing up in a small town full of straight white people. Everyone was the same, except for me.  I had something that no one else had though, I had grit.

Flashforward 39 years and I am financially secure.  I have cultivated a strong family structure with my wife and two daughters.  As far as academics go, I have gone all the way. I put myself through my undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral program and finished with a perfect GPA.  Literally perfect. I never scored less than perfect on any quiz, test, or homework assignment. I am a respected public school principal, published author, and established LGBTQ advocate.  

So what could shake this resilient woman that is full of grit?  One word. Cancer. My mother had breast cancer when I was in middle school and survived.  Thank god for her strength because she was all that my three siblings and I had. My father got clean when I was 21, he worked hard to rejoin our lives, and then he died of prostate cancer when I was 23.  My father was diagnosed before Christmas and passed away before Labor Day. The delicate balance between life and death left an indelible imprint on my brain. Life can change in the blink of an eye.

This summer I received a phone call regarding my recent mammogram.  Due to my family history (did I mention that my sister had a partial hysterectomy at the age of 35 due to cervical cancer?) I have received mammograms and MRI’s ever six months since I was 30.  I was told not to worry but that I needed an ultrasound on my right breast to get a better look at an area of concern. While at the ultrasound appointment I was told that I would need an ultrasound biopsy on the right breast and an MRI-guided biopsy on the left breast for two other areas of concern.  At first I went right to the worst place in my mind, I am dead within a year and my children grow up without me. Then I thought about how on top of my health I am. I am very health conscious. I eat a mainly organic and anti-inflammatory diet and I exercise regularly. I manage my stress through spirituality, yoga, and mindfulness and I am diligent about physicals and check ups.

I went through the MRI biopsy which consisted of being clamped in to a bed by my breast and remaining face down with my arms above my head for two and half hours while they drilled (yes drilled!) into two parts of my breast.  I am pretty sure that these procedures were developed by a man (sorry guys!). Thank God for yoga and meditation because it was certainly put to the test during this procedure.

I was sent home to recover and told not to do anything active or pick up anything more than 5 pounds for a few days.  This was really easy as a mother of a 2 year old and 4 year (sarcasm). In a week I was told that two of the three areas were benign but they could not get to the third area and that I could either come back in to have another MRI biopsy (hell no!  If they could not get it the first time, why would I put myself through that again?), wait and see if the area changes (ummmm, no), or see a breast specialist. There was very little guidance and I should mention that my gynecologist never called me to assist me in any decision making or see how I was doing.

I have since been to Memorial Sloan Kettering and one of the best breast specialists in the state.  Both doctors were stunned to learn that I was left to my own devices with this kind of medical decision-making.  I learned that my family history and make up of my breast tissue placed me at the highest level of risk for breast cancer.  I will undergo two lumpectomies this month to then have the areas biopsied (they do not trust the pathology of the imaging center and would like to check all of the areas).  I will not be able to drive for a few weeks and I will not be able to be active for at least four weeks, however, I am hopeful that the outcome will be benign. I will undergo genetic counseling once the procedure is done to see if I am a carrier for cancer and if so, my best way to fight it.  

Here are the takeaways from my experience:

  1. Be on top of your health.  Go to your routine check ups, get your bloodwork done, no excuses!  I have two children below the age of five and a full-time job. As a public school principal it was not convenient to go to doctor appointments during the first month of school but I found time to check in on my health, you can too.

  2. You will always be your best advocate.  Check yourself regularly and if you need to see a doctor, ask a lot of questions.  If you do not feel like you are being evaluated by the best, go to the best.

  3. Get a second opinion.  When you have your health, you have everything.  Get a second opinion, your health is important.

  4. A cancer scare or diagnosis is terrifying but everyone is fighting their own personal battle. Be kind to everyone whom you come in contact with. It might just be the extra support that they needed.

Be well!

Lori (the badass principal with the partially shaved head)

As you know we are all coming together to raise awareness for Breast Cancer this month teaming up with Fit 4 Prevention and Keep a Breast Foundation.

Amy will be teaching the first donation class Saturday 10/6 at 9:00 am and Maribeth, Sunday 10/14 at 9:00 am. $12 suggested minimum donation to take the class.

Keep A Breast Foundation is a nonprofit organization with a mission to empower young people around the world with breast health, education and support.

You can donate here…..By donating through this link, your donation will go directly to Keep A Breast. If you would like to donate at the studio, you can write a check payable to Keep A Breast or Fit 4 Prevention. There will be a donation box for cash at the desk as well.

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