You know those red cowboy boots I wore into my mastectomy surgery, through each round of chemo and blood work appointments? Well, I spent Memorial Day weekend walking through stables, hay and yes, horse poop! It was the perfect way for me to christen those boots the right way! I spent that weekend in Montana with an inspiring group of women but, I’ve kept the experience to myself until now. I came home so filled with gratitude and emotion it felt like if I cracked the door open just a little to share, the emotion would be a tidal wave.
I wish I could tell you we were all there celebrating the end of our “bump in the road”, but it wasn’t quite like that. We were each working on healing our hearts exactly where we were in our journey. Big Sky Yoga Retreats is the creation of Margaret Burns Vap, a yogi with a passion for horses, Montana and true connection. She sees the bond between human and horse as sacred, healing and inspiring. Within her amazing offerings of Cowgirl Yoga Retreats, she has created a weekend for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, Cowgirls vs. Cancer. It is a weekend full of connection, yoga, fabulous food, working with horses, quiet time and togetherness. The scenery is breathtaking, the horses are gentle giants and the camaraderie is supportive and loving. I will be forever grateful for being selected for this retreat and each person I met there.
Since the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer I had an aversion to pink, pink ribbons, and the words warrior, fight, battle, win, survivor…the list goes on. Cancer seems too sneaky and unknown, while all those words are so strong and definitive. It’s a scary thing and while everyone wants us to be cured, no one more than me, we will always have that question in the back of our minds. The question may not appear for weeks or days but sometimes it hits you over the head like a sledge hammer. And what about the women and men that “fought the battle” but don’t get to use the word “survivor”? They are the biggest, most fierce warriors of all. Once diagnosed with metastatic cancer, these women and men are in treatment for the rest of their lives. Treatment is meant to extend the length of their lives. Much needs to be done to increase awareness, understanding and research for this area of breast cancer. Among the amazing women I met were two doing remarkable work to raise awareness and research on metastatic breast cancer.
Hope Scarves is on a mission to share scarves, stories and hope with women fighting breast cancer. Check out their website. My friend Lara MacGregor is doing great things! If you have a scarf, story, donation or all of the above, I know Hope Scarves would be grateful! Hope Scarves was recognized at one of the Massachusetts General Hospital 100 which honors 100 Everyday Amazing individuals and groups — caregivers, researchers, philanthropists, advocates and volunteers from around the globe raising awareness and money in the search for treatments and a cure. Lara is an amazing woman turning her experience with cancer into a mission to impact others.
Met Up is an organization that my friend Jennie Grimes is a part of. Met Up provides information on metastatic breast cancer shared by women and men with this disease. They are dedicated to raising awareness and changing the landscape of how his disease is viewed by the research, fundraising, political and medical communities. Jennie is a fiercely passionate spirit, fighting metastatic cancer and standing for others in the process.
I fell in love with the horses and the 7 other women who came together to heal their hearts along with the people who donated their time, talent and products to our weekend. But, I left knowing this, it shouldn’t only be the metastatic women and men fighting for their lives. We “survivors” should be standing with them fighting for more research money, attention and focus on the metastatic disease. My heart is so full it aches a little but my focus is fierce.
I encourage you to explore more if you want more information. I know for sure that when fear is brought out from the dark places and into the light, it loses its power.
Thank you for being here.