Thursday, July 06, 2006
Cancer survivor reaches out to others by teaching yoga
by ASHLEY MILLS, Staff Writer, Beaches Leader
When Christina Phipps finished her four-month chemotherapy treatment, she was ready to give back to the community of breast cancer survivors.She just wasn't sure how.
A practicioner of yoga for four years and an instructor for three, Phipps noticed that none of the other women she was receiving treatment with practiced yoga.
And then it crsytallized for Phipps: yoga was a way that she could reach out to those battling breast cancer.
On July 18, Phipps will hold Yoga for Breast Cancer once a month at the Cobalt Moon Healing Center in Neptune Beach.The free class for women in all stages of breast cancer will cover calming and healing exercises.
Diagnosed with breast cancer in December, Phipps said she drew her strength from her husband, her family and yoga.Phipps continued to teach classes throughout the course of her treatment, missing only two days of class after her mastectomy. Two weeks into the chemotherapy, she lost her hair, her eyebrows, and her eyelashes.“I had bad days and good days,” she said, “but more good days than bad.”
Phipps said yoga gives her strength and serenity to handle her diagnosis. Now she wants to help other women to do the same.Doctors only offer limited instructions for physical therapy for women recovering from breast cancer, Phipps said. Yoga for Breast Cancer takes the stretching instructions usually provided by doctors to the next level, she said.Phipps said yoga is beneficial because it helps the practicers to calm and center their minds, relieve tension and stress, improve range of motion, reduce the effects and discomfort of scar tissue, relaxe the gripping feeling in the chest area and energize the body, mind and spirit.
The exercises are especially beneficial for women who received radiation therapy or have had an expander inserted, Phipps added.“Yoga does bring such a sense of well-being, and you're really taking care of yourself," she said.“If you do stay home and you stay still and stay on the couch, then I think you really can get where you start feeling sorry for yourself.”
Sarah Deprin, the manager of Cobalt Moon, said that yoga is beneficial because it increases a person's breathing rate, opens the body up and increases balance.More importantly, yoga helps people to listen to their bodies, Deprin said.“Christina is just so happy and that alone is a real testimonial to yoga,” she said.The beginning of the class coincidentally corresponds with a recent study that shows that women being treated for breast cancer and who also practiced yoga reported a higher quality of life.
The study, from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, found that women who practiced yoga twice a week reported better physical functioning, better general health and less fatigue than their counterparts who were placed on a waiting list.For Phipps, this information was merely confirmation of what she had personally experienced.“I had it all planned out and then this study came out that said yoga helps breast cancer patients, and I'm like, ‘I knew that,' ” she said.
Another important benefit that the yoga class offers, Phipps said, is a sense of community.When Phipps was first diagnosed, the students in her class were an important source of support.“They were the first people I told right after my husband,” she added.“They were with me the whole way.”
This sense of community was definitely present at the first Yoga for Breast Cancer class, she said.The class combined exercises with a support group atmosphere, as the participants shared their cancer experiences.
Along with support, participants can expect a sensory indulging experience, including aromatherapy and healing music.Yoga novices are welcome, as the class assumes no prerequisite experience.
“If people just come, it's going to be a revelation for them,” Phipps said.“It was for me.”Although the class is free, Phipps is asking those who are interested to pre-register because space is limited in the facility.
For more information, call Phipps at 631-8173.
Friday, May 12, 2006
Sea Turtle Patrol - Friday, May 12.....
Beautiful morning, crisp and cool - but no tracks yet!! Had a nice walk through zone 7 (Neptune Beach) and talked with a couple of folks and even saw a couple of local celebrities. Started hunting for shark's teeth on the way back home and look what I found!!
Friday, May 05, 2006
There is a Sea Turtle Art Exhibit Opening tonight at the First Street Gallery - come by and enjoy the music and art - proceeds going to the Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol. And, Sea Turtle Patrol Boot camp tomorrow at 7 a.m. - www.bstp.net for more info!!
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
The Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol started May 1 - but my first patrol was this morning. It was so great getting up early - and still was even a little chilly this morning! The tide was low, so it made it easier to ride my bike and search for tracks. I did my two zones today - but found no signs of turtles. Next patrol is on Friday - walking day I think! I took the camera - but didn't charge the batteries - so, I was lucky to catch this beautiful sunrise on "film"!! It was the perfect kind where the the sun looks as if it is melting into the ocean - wish I had gotten more pictures - just glad I got this one!! More on Friday.....see you on the beach!
Monday, May 01, 2006
Only two more treatments to go!!
On the road to recovery!
I finished up my third to last treatment last Thursday (4/27) - and was so glad to make it through another one. This is my second treatment of Taxol - and luckily this time, I had less pain with the medicine going in. Although it took a long time it was worth going slow!! I also had some good news at that treatment and found out that my hemoglobin is back up (has been down since before California), so I was able to forego that injection this time around!! I had my Neulasta shot on Friday and had my usual aches on Saturday - but not as bad as it has been!! And, Sunday, I was back to feeling okay!!
I have noticed that I have more energy and more get up and go finally - (maybe the hemoglobin going up has something to do with that!) and have been able to start my walking program. I have been trying to start one since JANUARY!!! But, I found this cool article in the May issue of Family Circle that starts you out slow - and that is what I needed!! So, I made it through my first week and feel great!!
Still teaching my yoga classes and love growing with my students!! They are such an inspiration to me and I am so glad they share those few hours with me each week!! Yoga has been an incredible healing tool for me - both doing it and sharing it with others!!
So, only two more treatments to go!! By the end of May, I will be finished and then on to my implant surgery and healing (and hair-growing - haha!) More later.....
Teacher Training at Bliss Yoga Shala -- November, 2005
This is where, upon graduation, I was given my name Lila. Here are a few definitions of my yoga-name:
~the divine play between the unmanifest and the manifest.
~ The term Lila (from Sanskrit 'Play') is based on the Hindu conviction, that god created the universe as a playful, joyous and creative act.
~"Lila" literally means "play," but in religious texts refers to "divine play" -- life as a spontaneous game played by lighthearted forces beyond our understanding.