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Living Well While Battling Breast Cancer

Living Well While Battling Breast Cancer

Meditation, yoga, affirmations and a close support system can help you live well while battling breast cancer.

Real Women, Real Stories

by Kathryn Budig
Model of Courage for Ford Warriors in Pink

The truth is simple when it comes to breast cancer—it's dreadful.

I've taught yoga to survivors who kicked cancer to the curb, watched incredibly strong women endure treatment while keeping a sparkle in their eyes and felt my heart drop as I learned of a dear friend's diagnosis. This disease is a beast.

Joy is not synonymous with breast cancer, but that doesn't mean it can't be found during the disease. These tips can help anyone enduring breast cancer to stay calm and find the silver lining. Take a deep breath, read on and use these any time you need calming inspiration.

1. Aim True

I teach my students to "aim true and stay true." This means setting a daily intention for how you want to be, interact and react. Then, go out and boldly share your talents. The trick is this: Anyone can set intention; the hard part is keeping it. Once your aim is true, you need to stay true, and if you're dealing with breast cancer, that's no cakewalk. It's crucial to create a sacred space where your intention can thrive: fill a journal with positive affirmations; write messages of love and support on your mirror; place supportive notes in strategic places; or create an altar or collage where you collect images, letters and objects that bring you emotional peace and support. Beyond this, each day write down or say out loud something or someone you're grateful for. You have the power to manifest good even in your most challenging moments.

2. Meditate

This is one of the most beneficial practices you can nurture during this difficult time. A daily meditation practice will help silence your fears, insecurities and distractions to bring you back to the heart of the moment and what truly matters—you living fully. Caitlin Marcoux, a student of mine and breast cancer patient, reminded me that cancer doesn't just affect the patient—its stressors affect the entire extended family. A meditation practice will not only help to calm you, but it will alleviate the stress of your entire tribe.

Try a simple five-minute meditation like this: Inhale and think, "I am not my body." Exhale and think, "I am not this disease." Repeat this in a comfortable seated position, with your eyes closed and hands resting on your knees, palms facing up.

3. Practice Yoga

Breast cancer treatment will likely put a damper on your desire and ability to be physically active, but that's where a restorative yin yoga practice comes in. Yin yoga is a forgiving and supportive style of physical activity to keep you connected to your body. It's also a reminder that your body is not the enemy, even though it may seem like it. I taught yoga to breast cancer survivor Melissa Etheridge. We used gentle chest openers and strengtheners to bring her back into her power. When practiced regularly—at least 4 days a week and up to daily—these postures, combined with intention and breath, have the power to heal. Search for specific yoga for cancer classes in your area to amplify the power of the experience.

4. Make Plans

The initial prognosis often causes fear and raises many questions. The future is suddenly uncertain. Breast cancer is brutal and unkind, but you don't have to let it rule you or your future. Lindsay Avner, founder of Bright Pink, recommends planning positive things to look forward to. She recommends putting dates in your calendar (whether it be a lunch date with a good friend or a spa day) to serve as a reminder of all the good still alive in your life. Focus on the positive and remember that there are still so many great things ahead of you.

5. Buddy System

A roller coaster ride isn't nearly as enjoyable without someone there to hold your hand or scream in terror with you. Don't be afraid to reach out to the closest members of your tribe to help you with difficult moments. Avner recommends having a confidant sit in on all of your doctors' appointments and help you with the time-consuming health care and insurance tasks. Don't take on the world by yourself—allow and invite support. Your loved ones can bring you back to reality and away from the edge of panic. Cancer's got nothing on the bond of a loved one.

If you'd like to learn more about our Models of Courage or the Ford Warriors in Pink program, please visit

Ford Warriors in Pink has teamed with HealthyWomen to continue to drive the conversation about the importance of breast health. In the fight against breast cancer for 20 years, Ford Warriors in Pink works to raise awareness and funds every day, dedicating over $125 million to the cause. A group of survivors and advocates called Models of Courage help share the message. We amplify their voices by bringing them to the national stage, where millions can hear their stories of courage and encouragement. Author Kathryn Budig is one of our Models of Courage.

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