For those of you that don't know Adriana DeFazio, she is a wife and a mother of two strong young women. She is also the Studio Manager for YYOGA Highgate and one of the kindest spirits to ever roam the Lower Mainland.
Two years ago she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and her life changed. This is why the Workout To Conquer Cancer: 31 Day Challenge is important to her.
Here is her story.
A Gut Feeling
May 2016 - I was feeling off. In July I went to go see my doctor and shared some of my symptoms with her. When I mentioned my concerns of ovarian cancer, she replied with, "You don’t fall into the high risk category, nothing to worry about" - She had been my doctor for 25 years, she knew my health history, that I had always lead a healthy lifestyle, including several triathlons, two Ironmans, and now teaching yoga - I trusted that she knew best. Off I went. That summer I continued not to feel well, not knowing what was going on.
October 2016 - I decided to go to the emergency as my symptoms were persisting. Thankfully, the emergency doctor ordered a cat scan and it was that night that I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I couldn’t fully process what the doctor just told me. It just didn’t seem real, how could this be? That was the beginning of what I like to think of as my re-birth, my journey through cancer treatment.
Advocate For Yourself
Originally I was not scheduled to see an oncologist until 4 weeks later. My husband and I felt strongly to get the ball rolling quickly. I knew that I had to be the one to advocate for me, I had to be comfortable with being in the driver’s seat for this one and 3 weeks after that night in the emergency, I was having chemotherapy administered. In conjunction with chemotherapy and surgery, I also was having regular treatments at my naturopath, weekly reiki sessions & acupuncture. For me, all of these healing modalities were the best choices. My main focus was to get through active treatment and surgery - anything I could have in my arsenal for overall healing was crucial.
It Takes A Community
One of the teachers at Highgate reminded me that, "Healing does not happen in isolation" - I took her words to heart. The support that my team, along with our guests had given me was nothing short of amazing. I experienced a kindness and love in people that I can't even put into words. An example of this is one of my Guest Experience Team Members went to 108 people and told them what was going on for me. He gave them a rudruksha bead (a bead often used in the making of a traditional mala), and had each person think of me and send good thoughts. Then, he strung the beads together and made me a mala. I would wear this amazing gift during my treatments to remind myself that I was not alone during this journey. During this time I was also reminded that there is a time to give and a time to receive - and that this was my time to receive. In the yoga world, this is energy exchange and I needed to step out of my comfort zone and allow myself to receive from others. Love is what I got. I remember being wheeled into surgery feeling as if my heart was big and overflowing. If a doctor asked me if I could get through this on love alone, I could of easily said, yes. I truly feel blessed to have the entire YYOGA community, my friends, and family behind me during my journey.
Not Just Asanas
The misconception about yoga can be that it’s just the physical practice, moving. Yes, that's an important piece, really this is the piece that allows you to get to know your body. However, it’s not the only piece. Yoga, for me, was "how am I going to show up today?" I mean, chemo sucks. Cancer sucks. The whole process sucks. But I wasn't going to go through this experience with a negative mindset and squash my spirit. But I was also going to allow myself space to feel what I was feeling and not try to control everything that was going on around me. This balance of being in control and allow things to be. This was the real yoga. I kept thinking "what are my choices?" I knew curling up on the bathroom floor was not an option for me. Now, that's not to say there aren’t days where fear was looking at me in the face - oh yes it was, on several days, I just choose not to stay with it. I choose to stay present and do my best to only deal with what I knew to be true. The mind can play tricks on you - & I wasn't willing to play.
What have I learned?
- Listen to your body - no one should know your body better than you. Get to know it!
- Trust your inner voice - when you think something is wrong with your body. Listen to it.
- Advocate for yourself - who else will?
- Only surround yourself with amazing people - don’t settle for less.
Today I continue to move forward in my life. People think that after you're done with cancer treatment, it's over - that’s just not true. I’m still in a phase where I'm concerned that the cancer will come back.
But I always come back to yoga, stay present and go back to what I know to be true today, I'm 13 months cancer free.
My life’s journey isn’t over yet, it's just begun...
If you would like to make a contribution to the Workout To Conquer Cancer we are accepting donations until May 31st, 2018.Donate Now