Meet Rosemarie. This is her story, in her own words…
“I don’t like to call cancer a gift because it is not something that I would ever want to offer to someone else but cancer has brought me into my life in a way nothing else would have. I am truly alive and I have found a way to participate in my life as never before.”
The day breast cancer changed my life was the day I read my biopsy report. You see I worked in the radiology department of a hospital and decided to pull up my own report. I was in disbelief but decided at that moment life changed. I felt a sudden urgency to my life. I quit my job, moved to a different town with my husband and searched out support. It was the best move I could have made. I found multiple support places in my new town and took a year off of work to sort out what this meant. My dad told me before he died, “remember to always do what makes you happy and brings you joy.” I would do that despite my fears about my disease.
I decided to take a training called Healthy Steps which was a movement class that helped with lymphedema. I had already been licensed in another type of movement class called Shake Your Soul and decided to combine the two. During my radiation treatment, I studied and perfected my class and would dance in my living room and pick some beautiful music to go with the movements. I was tired a lot back then, but this gave me something to strive for and I wanted to help others in my same situation.
I finished my training and certification online since I could not travel to Washington State, which is where the Healthy Steps headquarters was located, and I was licensed soon after my treatment was complete. I taught my first class at a church, and had little interest there but it was my first step back to doing what I loved. I joined the YMCA in my area and found the Livstrong Program which is a program that helps recently diagnosed cancer patients get back into exercising and gives amazing support. I completed the program and was asked to do my class there for the new applicants to the Livestrong program.
It was an amazing experience and I knew that this was the JOY my dad talked about. The class was small, but so appreciative and I felt fulfilled and comforted by being with the people who were going through what I had gone through. The class healed me in ways I could not have known. I plan on offering my class to many others who want to have fun and for an hour forget their worries and at the same time improve their motor skills.
In September of 2011, a year almost to the day I completed my treatment, I walked a 1/2 marathon in my town. I walked with Gilda’s Gang, an organization that offers support to cancer survivors and their families and we raised money to help the cause. The marathon was my full circle moment. I struggled to reach the finish line and although I finished last in my group I felt like a winner in so many ways. I knew that when I crossed the finish line my new healthy life would begin. I don’t like to call cancer a gift because it is not something that I would ever want to offer to someone else but cancer has brought me into my life in a way nothing else would have. I am truly alive and I have found a way to participate in my life as never before.
I am now in the process of empowering myself to bring my gifts to the world and not waiting for my moment. THIS IS MY MOMENT!!!!!
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Additional videos will be added throughout the month of October and beyond.
A program of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, the Army of Women is a unique partnership between researchers at top universities and women who want to help find the cause of breast cancer so we can learn how to prevent it. To date, the Foundation has recruited more than 359,000 women (and some men) into the Army of Women program, with 50,000 of those volunteers engaged in helping 52 breast cancer studies.
After signing up at www.armyofwomen.org, members are then contacted via email blast about new studies seeking volunteers. They can either sign-up for the studies online, or if they do not qualify, they are encouraged to forward the information to a friend or family member. Every woman over 18 is welcome to participate, whether a breast cancer survivor or someone never affected.
There are currently more than 20 breast cancer studies seeking volunteers through the Army of Women. The studies are looking for a variety of women – some seek healthy women who have not had breast cancer; other studies need breastfeeding moms or pregnant women; another study needs women who have the breast cancer gene (BRCA 1 or BRCA 2); a few studies are specifically seeking African American women; while some studies are looking for menopausal and post-menopausal women; and another study is seeking those diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.
The full list of open studies seeking volunteers are listed at:www.armyofwomen.org/current.