Life is full of surprises; some change our lives in the best possible way, but some can be rather unpleasant.
Unfortunately, waking up one morning and realising something was wrong did not feel like the former.
Two years ago, I felt a lump on my right breast. It was hard, perfectly rounded, like a pea, and the size of a peanut. Soon after, it was given a medical name: Cancer.
The sheer fear and confusion were indescribable. I was fit, practising yoga daily, had an stress-free life and healthy diet, never smoked, rarely drunk, was 44, and had biannual check-ups for the last 20 years. I couldn’t stop questioning how it had happened and what would happen next. It turns out cancer does not discriminate. And even the machines or the doctors can miss some tumours. Five months after my last ‘all clear’ check-up, I was diagnosed with breast cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes, meaning I had to have two surgeries (a mastectomy and lymph node removal), chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. Thus, I will forever be grateful for being body aware and for the early diagnosis. It saved my life.
We spend so much time and energy on little and insignificant things, yet often, we don’t pay attention to the most important thing: ourselves. All we need is a moment of self-check. Our bodies are amazing at communicating if we listen. Be aware of these signs or symptoms:
Lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest, or armpit.
Changes in the breast’s size, shape, skin texture or colour.
A rash, crusting or changes to the nipple and/or discharge.
A mastectomy is a surgery that removes all the breast tissue and, in some cases, the nipple and lymph nodes too. Going through such an experience can be difficult. However, it is easy to find ways to ease off the pain. Post-surgery, during the 6-to-8-week recovery, rehabilitation of the chest area is essential. Yoga could aid physical relief with gentle stretches and mental relaxation with breathing/meditation. Moreover, post-treatment, it also helps with the strengthening of the body. Its countless benefits could be a great help.
As a yoga instructor and a cancer survivor, I would be happiest if I could help even one person avoid those unpleasant surprises.