The Diagnosis Call – Stacy Seebart’s Story

My friend Stacy Seebart radiates her bright light wherever she goes and on whomever she encounters. I first met Stacy through a mutual friend who insisted I take her Pranassage inspired class. A juicy class with tons of hands on adjustments. I was hooked and connected with Stacy from that seminal class onward. Years later, Stacy was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She shared her experience about receiving the news of her diagnosis with Mantra Yoga + Health and I wanted to share it with you. It’s an intimate moment the person living cancer and their loved ones will never forget.

The town of Nosara, Costa Rica has since become a second home to me, and I spend time annually on its beaches and within its jungles. I’ve dedicated myself to the people and culture of Nosara for the past ten years, training in various yogic modalities of healing and self -inquiry. Little did I know that this work and this environment would become so instrumental to me when going face-to-face with my biggest challenge in life yet: My own health.

The environment of Nosara is heavenly. The life force, prana, of its beaches and jungles have had a palpable effect on my practice and in turn my well-being. The language of energy is omnipresent and most tangible each time I step off the mat following a long, sweaty practice. Everything feels plugged into a very high vibration. The power of the ocean puts the journey of life into perspective for me.

Ride the wave.

In 2014, I received news that would require me to tap into the wellspring of healing potential revealed to me by the teachings of yoga and the Nicoya Peninsula. On April 14, 2014, I received a voicemail from my doctor. I saw it sitting there on my phone screen earlier in the day and ignored it. Around 4pm, I listened. She had such a flat tone to her voice. She left her cell phone number, and she said to call her back at any time of the day. Panic. I knew something was wrong, but I never ever in my wildest dreams thought of what I was about to hear her say. I called her cell phone back and she answered right away. Within moments she had said the tests of the biopsy came back as cervical cancer.

I was immediately having an out-of-body experience. No, she did not just say that to me. There was a mistake. Writing down what she was telling me, adenocarcinoma, glandular, only 25% of cervical cancers are this form, cone biopsy, hysterectomy, treatments, chemotherapy, radiation, trials….I was writing down her notes as if I was taking someone’s food order. This isn’t about me. This isn’t real. This isn’t happening. In shock I stumbled through some questions, took some deep breaths, and I think I even tried to make a joke to make her feel better as I could tell she had that tone in her voice that she felt very, very sorry for me. That actually made me feel worse, like I had an immediate death
sentence.

Holy shit, I have cancer.

The wave of the next five months of my world was very high and low. My practice of yoga came into play when I was in need of healing, clarity, perspective, and self-discovery. The resonance within the jungle of Costa Rica gave me support, a feeling that there were powers greater than my own in action, and that I always had a choice to connect to them.

I could choose to open up to a new level of existence or to shut down. Every day I was faced with thousands of choices, which doctor, which treatment, which tests, which surgeries to do or not do. I would sit, breathe, stretch and meditate and then answer one by one trusting that I was on the right path. I am proud to say that I am now one year cancer-free. I went through a fast and furious fight in 2014.

My determination to seek within myself, to find the best medical care around and literally change my chemical makeup on a cellular level from the inside out, could not have been possible had my body, mind, and soul not received the tools of self-inquiry and healing through yoga and the innate wisdom of the Costa Rica environment.

I knew I was in the right hands when I was speaking with my surgeon about what I needed to do before my last surgery. His answer? “Do more yoga.” Thank you Dr. Sean Dowdy. Thank you Yoga. Thank you Costa Rica.

The post “My #cervicalcancer Diagnosis and the Healing Powers of Costa Rica” first appeared in Mantra Yoga + Heath Magazine.

Stacy SeebartStacy Seebart

Stacy is Director of Prenatal Yoga Training  for Blooma and a Massage Therapist. She has insatiable wanderlust but calls Minneapolis home. Learn more and follow her at stacyseebart.com.

Just Send It by Brown Ink

The post Just Send It appeared first on Wendy Brown’s blog,  brownink.com.

Last summer, while away on a family vacation, I received a difficult phone call from my dear friend, Ron. He had recently been diagnosed with leukemia. My first reaction, aside from “OH SHIT, you can’t leave this world!”, was how soon can I mail a card to him back home. Unfortunately, I had some practice writing get well cards over the past few years to friends and family. But as I saw through my mother’s partner, David, who received letters while battling melanoma, handwritten letters make a difference. They really do.

Since our small beach town in Oregon only carried a small selection of encouragement cards and were not totally my style, I decided to roll with the situation and buy the most sappy, Deep Thoughts by Jack Handeyesque cards I could find. It became our theme to send Ron extremely syrupy, footprints-in-the-sand kind of greeting cards (he’s still talking to me so something must have worked!).

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Thankfully, more greeting card designers are creating cards which simply state how we feel, the Queen Bee these days being Emily McDowell. Her booth at the National Stationery Show is always packed with buyers and it’s easy to see why. Emily’s empathy cards speak the truth in a humorous yet thoughtful way!

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After her experience (and triumph!) with cancer as well as connecting with people who have lost loved ones, Emily understands first-hand what it’s like to be on the other side. The emotional impact of the experience was her inspiration to create cards she would have liked to receive while she was ill.

Indeed, it’s a fine balance, how direct are you with those you feel empathy towards? This quote from Dr.Brene Brown sums it up well, “Empathy is a choice and it’s a venerable choice because in order to connect with you I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling. Rarely, if ever, does an empathic response begin with at least…we are trying to put the silver lining around it.” And what are these words to use if not found in the perfect card?

Patterson Paper

TOO SEXY from Patterson Paper

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Throat Punch Cancer from Black Lab Studio

Years ago an article in the NY Times made it a bit more clear as far as the Do’s and Don’ts of communication to those ill. Words which are direct and have feeling appear the most powerful. “I’m sorry you have to go through this.” “I hate to see you suffer.” “You meant a lot to me.” These statement plus keeping it light with a little juicy gossip, (a Hollywood star scandal, the school Principal’s dating life, etc.), can be the key in getting through the next round of chemo.

This is what I believe to be true. Show up, be real, be encouraging. Look for online support if the what’s and how’s don’t come naturally to you (my good friend recently kicked off Cancer Doula blog after losing her best friend to breast cancer and was unable to find support which spoke to her!). Do not hold back mailing a card if you don’t have the perfect words or perfect card. Your loved one will be overjoyed knowing you are with them in mind and spirit – And they are not alone.

 

Wendy Brown

Wendy Brown

Wendy Brown writes the blog Brown Ink. She is a writer, Cancer Doula Tribe member and all around amazing human.  She lives in South Minneapolis with her equally exceptional husband, Nick, and their three children.

Tote Your Tribal Love

Calm Tote. (Aqua & Navy)

Calm Tote. (Aqua & Navy)

Shalin’s Tribe carried her on her journey. The love and support of the community was immense and allowed us to be there for her, and for one another. I wanted the tribe to be able to identify themselves out in the wild, in the real world, and show their support. I was inspired by the yellow Lance Armstrong LiveSTRONG wristbands but wanted something Shalin and I would personally wear. Initially I wanted to make t-shirts but that proved to be a more complex task than I could manage at the time. Adam, the designer of Shalin’s Tribe logo mark, suggested totes. One size fits all!  I ordered the totes and sold them to Shalin’s Tribe  and funneled the proceeds to Shalin’s family. I knew they were a hit when I saw kids on the playground where Shalin’s girls attend school carrying a tote. I’ve used mine as a reusable grocery bag among other things and Shalin’s girls use theirs to carry music books to and from piano lessons.

Your tribe can show their support by customizing a tote with your tribe’s name. These functional and stylish screen printed totes are made from unbleached natural cotton designed, crafted and printed in the USA. They are perfect for trips to the library, piano lessons, the beach or the grocery store, and just the right size for yoga. Proceeds from orders will cover administrative costs to keep cancerdoula.com up and running.

Olivia Oxborough carries Vitality. Photo Courtest of Kylee Leonetti, Kylee & Christian Creative.

Blogger Olivia Oxborough carries Vitality. Photo Courtesy of Kylee Leonetti,  Kylee & Christian Creative.

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Even the littles love the totes. Photo courtesy of Kylee Leonetti, Kylee & Christian Creative.

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A perfect stuffed animal carrier. Photo courtesy of Tiffany Wolff.

YES! OUR TRIBE NEEDS THESE. 

To place your order, email hello@cancerdoula.com. Please include:

  1. your name
  2. mailing address (be sure to include any special shipping notes)
  3. phone number
  4. name of the tribe (Emma’s Tribe, Max’s Tribe)
  5. color preference (Vitality/Salmon or Calm/Teal)

Minimum order 50 = $500 plus shipping and handling, 100 = $750 plus shipping and handling. Average shipping costs for 50 is approximately $50-$75 for standard shipping in the continental US. If you’re interested in larger quantities, please contact us for further pricing. Please note each order of 50 must be the same color for the entire order.

A PayPal payment request will be sent to you by email where you will be able to complete a secure transaction.

Standard turn around time is 4 weeks. Expedited processing is available for an additional cost. Exact timing to be determined when order is placed. Please inquire about international shipping timing and costs.

Due to customization, all orders are Final Sale. Contact us with questions or for further details.

Tote Details

Dimensions: 18”w x 14.5”h x 3”g

Composition: 10oz Natural Cotton, Triple stitched Handles: 25” cotton web

These totes can be washed but fair warning, they may shrink and take on a more casual shape. They must be line dried to maintain as much of the integrity of the original shape as possible.

Vitality Tote. Note distressed design. Photo courtesy of Eliesa Johnson.

Calm Tote. Photo courtesy of Eliesa Johnson.

Shalin’s Tribe logo mark was designed by the wildly talented, Portland, Oregon based  designer, Adam Garcia at The Pressure.

 

 

Ethereal End of Year Playlist

The turntable image is a risograph designed by Saint Paul-based designer, Tiffany Wolff. You can check out more of Tiffany’s work here.

Playlists can serve as a therapeutic way to work through something, feel something or evoke something. Shalin and I made some truly epic playlists over the years. We started out analog-style with mixtapes and and in recent years fully embraced the collaborative playlist option Spotify offers. Playlists for birthday parties or parties in general, holidays like Thanksgiving that require a musical backdrop, being in love or sad, dancing our asses off, getting through the dead of winter, road trips and simply for the love of a creating that perfect playlist.

When my friend Bryan Hanna mentioned that he had a killer playlist that could hit the spot as it relates to our human life experience, I asked if I could share it with the Cancer Doula Tribe to which he obliged. Bryan said these particular tracks take him to all places through life and help him feel complacent to live or die. The last track, “Be Still” by the Beach Boys (really just Brian Wilson), offers a beautiful message to end your audio journey. Two of the tracks on Bryan’s playlist, “Hanna Space” and “Hanna Pallett 1”, were composed by Bryan and not available on Spotify, however, you can access them via Dropbox then they can be added via local files off your device and added to the playlist on Spotify. “Hanna Pallett 1” should fall in place as Track 7 and “Hanna Space”, Track 12. While I believe these two tracks truly make the playlist, it will still serve you well if you choose not to access them.

To fully experience the benefits of this playlist, please listen to the tracks in the proper playlist order. If you have a playlist that Cancer Doula should know about it, please share it in the comments below or send via email.

Bryan Hanna is a Minneapolis-based music producer and composer. He also specializes in custom commercial and residential audio installation. Contact him at bryhanna@mac.com.

Green Goodness Smoothie

Green Goodness Smoothie Photo Credit: Kylee LeonettiPhoto Courtesy of Cancer Doula Tribe Member, Kylee Leonetti of Kylee & Christian Creative in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This photo was taken in Los Angeles. And yes, Kylee really made the smoothie, and then she devoured.

Shalin got her wellness curious tribe hooked on smoothies with the convenience of the NutriBullet. I asked Holly Wiebelhaus — Cancer Doula tribe member and wellness doula — to share one of her favorite green smoothie recipes. Read on to treat yourself to this healthy delight.

Green Goodness Smoothie Recipe

by Holly Wiebelhaus of healthyregression.com

It can sometimes feel like more work than it’s worth to bust out the blender, figure out what’s going to give you the most bang for your buck for nutrients and energy, actually taste good, and of course the ever loving clean-up. This Green Goodness Smoothie won’t disappoint, so get your healthy vibe, shine on love rolling, and enjoy.

Kombucha – 1 cup

By using kombucha as your liquid, you are getting many additional benefits: improved digestion, increased energy, reduced joint pain, immune support, etc. Dr. Axe  shares many of the benefits of this ancient elixir that may even inspire you to start brewing yourself.

Organic Spinach – 2 cups

Greens, greens and more greens, we all need more greens. If you are new to green smoothies, spinach is the perfect starter green thanks to its mild taste and power packed nutrients – protein, fiber, vitamins A, B6, C, E & K, folate, thiamin, calcium, iron, magnesium, etc. For the veteran smoothie lover, add your favorite greens.

Nutzo Butter Power Fuel – 2 tablespoons

Nutzo Butter’s seven organic nuts and seeds make it a super source of protein, Omega 3’s, and vitamins and minerals. This wonder butter is an investment at $14-18 and should be consumed beyond the smoothie especially by the spoonful, or on toast. You can learn more about this five star product and its founder here.

Organic Banana – 1

We’re all a little bananas. Bananas pack a punch beyond potassium with vitamin C and B6, and manganese making them an excellent and tasty addition to smoothies. If you need even more reasons to love bananas, there are 25 listed here.

Directions:

Add 1 cup of ice, or as much as you’d like. Blend all ingredients in a powerful blender (Vitamix, Ninja, Bullet, etc.) and enjoy. This recipe makes about two 6 oz. servings.

Notes:

Holly’s smoothie was made with freshly cut spinach from her garden and home-brewed raspberry ginger kombucha. If those aren’t available, a good store bought substitute for the kombucha is GT’s Synergy Gingerberry or pick up some locally brewed in your area. NessAlla, made in Madison, Wisconsin, is delicious. If you can’t find the Nutzo Butter, raw almond butter is a great alternative.

About Holly Weibelhaus

Holly and her husband Neal share their knowledge on health and wellness at healthyregression.com. They are dedicated to awakening and inspiring folks to be conscious of living a health filled life. They are tremendous stewards of the earth and make the best kombucha you’ve ever tasted. You can follow them on Facebook and Instagram @healthyregression.

Your BFF has Cancer.

Chances are you’re here because someone you know or someone you care about knows someone who has cancer. This fucking sucks. When my best friend Shalin was diagnosed I was in total shock. I was in the midst of an audio session in LA when I got the news and wasn’t prepared for full on waterworks, especially on a business trip. I couldn’t keep my mouth closed due to my utter disbelief. However I did manage to consume a very large bowl of miniature candy bars in a lame attempt to cure what ailed me. Once the sugar buzz kicked in and I found comfort in my trusty laptop, I think I typed into Google “how long will someone live who’s just been diagnosed with breast cancer?” or “what does invasive mean?”. After the scientific questions, I moved on to googling “what do you do when your friend just got diagnosed with breast cancer?”. Yes, I was seeking sage advice from Google. If breast cancer was the challenge, I wanted to be the best friend I could be to help her through it. I don’t have an MD after my name but I have mad research skills, and yet in all my searches I couldn’t find the answers or clarity I was looking for. There was no place to go to for the comfort, reality, levity and wisdom we both needed.

We craved a go-to resource on how the hell to deal with cancer, on every level. There was food52.com to tell us how to make a kick ass pasta salad and Trip Advisor to tell us if a hotel in Tulum allows children or not. But there wasn’t a place that could tell us how to tell your neighbors you have cancer, how much wine you can drink (or not drink), or the best strategy for going from long golden locks to rocking the Sinead O’Connor look.

Shalin was beside herself about her pending hair loss. A wig? Are you serious? She was a hair stylist and now she wasn’t going to have any hair! I certainly wasn’t going to lie to her and tell her how cute she was going to look without any hair on her head. Or sans eyebrows or lashes. Scarves, wigs, hats, sleeping caps (yeh, like the kind newborn babies wear in the hospital) become a necessary addition to the daily uniform. A few relatively hip blogs about how to tie scarves in unique ways and look good regardless of your alopecia exist, but they are few and far between. The best I could do was make myself available to watch the headshave via FaceTime and be there for Shalin.

Shalin’s cancer only deepened our already rich and vibrant friendship. A true sisterhood. After countless phone calls, puddles of tears, and severe emoji overuse, we decided that we needed to create a destination to explore and share the cancer experience from the from the point of view of a best friend. A place that would present the “best of” on how to support someone living with cancer and be the best member of their tribe. A place for connections, wellness, yummy food and recipes, sometimes inappropriate humor and living in style. A place you could dip into and come away feeling refreshed and better equipped to walk your true path with your BFF, along with cancer.

Cancer Doula is a companion guide to your cancer experience. If you’re being a best friend to someone who is sick, you are a doula. Welcome to the tribe.