Yoga for Breast Cancer - Relaxed Poses

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Physical Benefits of Relaxed Yoga Poses
Breast Cancer Yoga's Relaxed Yoga Poses is a very gentle restorative yoga that has been determined to be beneficial for cancer patients and post-treatment survivors by the medical and cancer research communities. Breast Cancer Yoga's Relaxed Yoga Poses provides relief for women going through treatment for breast cancer from the associated fatigue and depression. Researchers have observed in studies that women who practice this gentler version of yoga therapy have had a fifty percent reduction in depression and a twelve percent increase in feelings of peacefulness. 

Relaxed Poses E-book

When to do Relaxed Poses
Your surgeon will advise you when you can go back to your exercise routine.  It is important to wait until you receive the green light from your medical professional.  Start with a gentle restorative yoga practice of stretching and breathing. When coming back to any exercise program there may be tightness and pulling in the chest region but there should never be pain. Relaxed Yoga Poses aide in the ROM (range of motion) to expand comfortably and at a normal rate.  

By: Diana Ross, E-RYT 500 - Founder & Survivor of
Breast Cancer Yoga

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Yoga for Breast Cancer - Seated Poses

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Seated Yoga Poses E-book
 Yoga for Breast Cancer - Seated Poses
Seated Yoga Pose

By: Diana Ross E-RYT 500 - Founder Breast Cancer Yoga

Breast Cancer Yoga Seated Yoga Poses can effectively help restore physical movement, range of motion for the arms and shoulders.  It will aide in post-surgical recovery repairing of adhesion's, scar tissue and keloid scars. Breast Cancer Yoga Seated Yoga Poses assist in supporting this part of the healing cycle while in recovery. One of the essential tools for recovery is the ability to effectively deal with stress, fatigue and depression.

Benefits of Seated Poses 
The purpose of seated poses is the emphasis is on the arm movements and chest openers while in a seated pose.  At the same time, we begin to learn that yoga is intended to heal the whole body - the whole person. 

Purpose of a Seated Pose 
Seated Yoga Poses are important to practice and maintain. In yoga, being comfortably seated is necessary so one can meditate and not be distracted by any stress or strain.  When we sit with legs crossed there is the added benefit of an opening of the hips.  Remember that learning to sit in a yoga pose strengthens the spine. 
When to do Seated Poses
All the poses in this E-book are seated poses so begin when YOU are ready or take one pose at a time and see how it feels. 

Founder & Survivor: Diana Ross, E-RYT 500

Preview Seated Yoga Poses E-book

Music and Cancer

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I’m often asked what sort of things have kept me going through my cancer journey these last five years. There have been many things. Hope, the will to carry on for both myself and family, the small things I have to look forward to in life, simple pleasures I took for granted before that I treasure now, but I think most of all it’s been music. As ascertained in a previous blog piece on the wonderful Sing for Life choir, music can be powerful and intensely uplifting. I believe that music has helped improve my immune system, helped control my pain, improved my mental focus, it has helped to create a feeling of well-being which, in turn, has led to a reduction in anxiety, stress and depression. I would like to think that all of these things have helped me in my fight against cancer.

Early days with a band in Cardiff. Knebworth not!!
Aside from music listening, and I enjoy all styles, I always wanted to be a drummer as young boy. Luckily at 16 I worked part-time and saved enough money to buy my first set of drums. For the next six years I played with various bands in and around Cardiff and Cornwall. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and even dabbled in a bit of songwriting with my last band. Music never left me and since being diagnosed with cancer, has played an increasing role in my life.

After taking part in a BBC documentary called It’s Good to Sing, I was fortunate enough to meet Rod Thomas, who I now call a true friend. He saw me on the programme and we started chatting in general. Quite soon we discovered a mutual love for music, and I was fascinated by Rod’s recording stories from back in the 60s and 70s. He suggested I write a song with him one day and I thought it would be lovely to write one for my wife Cathy. I liked the idea of creating a personal legacy with a difference. Even though I’d completed my Grade 6 on piano I was very rusty, but with a basic knowledge of chord progressions I, along with Rod, started to fashion a song. It wasn’t easy but with Rod’s expertise I found learning my way around intro, verse, bridge, pre-chorus, chorus etc easier as time progressed. We both had small, virtually identical home studios and we would ship ideas back and forth until we were pleased with the final result. Ultimately the demo was finished off in a professional studio.

The song Always It’s You was born in August 2011. It was slightly rushed as I was heading off for a three week holiday to Scotland and Cathy knew nothing about us writing it. I had to leave Rod to liaise with the studio 4000 miles away in Nashville, whilst frantically texting each other from the Highlands of Scotland to the Valleys of South Wales. We were very pleased with the final result. The words perfectly conveyed how I felt about Cathy and the music fitted the lyrics so well. The demo was created using a male singer and he did a superb job. The day we got back from Scotland the demo was ready for Cathy to hear, and took her by complete surprise!

As myself and Rod’s friendship blossomed, so did our desire to write together. We’ve now written four songs - five in total as Always It’s You is also recorded as a female version. The styles of the songs are quite different and the music has been part of a personal journey for both of us. I still hope to write some more as it gives me great personal satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.

At times it’s been so difficult to convey my feelings and thoughts via the regular medium but I’ve found that through the power of song I’ve been able to say how I feel.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, listening to music has been a positive influence on my journey with cancer, but actually writing about my feelings through music has had a profound effect on my life.

Here is a link to the MySpace page where you can listen to my songs. Let me know what you think.

List your cancer-related services in the Cancer Resource Guide

Thursday, March 22, 2012

We're updating the Cancer Resource Guide for North Central Florida. The Guide is a valuable tool for cancer patients, survivors, caregivers and family members. Listings are free of charge—it is a public service of North Central Florida Cancer Control Collaborative and WellFlorida Council.

Please submit your listing by emailing by April 9, 2012. Be sure to include:
Name of organization/support group/program
Contact Name
Contact Email Address
Contact Phone Number
Website Address

The Cancer Resource Guide for North Central Florida has been in high demand by the cancer community—so much so that we've received grant funding to create an online version of it to be launched July 2012. You can see a print version of last year's Guide by visiting

Please notify other organizations that provide services to this community so that they may be listed in the Guide as well.

Feel free to call April with any questions at 352-313-6500 ext. 104.

NCFCCC: Breast Cancer Screening

The North Central Florida Cancer Control Collaborative (NCFCCC) hosted Dr. Julia Marshall, Director of Radiology at UF/Shands for a “lunch and learn” Breast Cancer Screening presentation. Participants received CEUS for Dr. Marshall's presentation, which covered current incidence and prevalence statistics on breast cancer in the US, breast cancer prognostic factors, screening technologies, screening methodologies, potential future screening technologies and screening recommendations. For a complete copy of Dr. Marshall’s presentation please contact Lindsey Redding at or (352) 313-6500 ext. 105.

Cancer Connections March Meeting

Join us on March 28th at noon at Hope Lodge for a presentation by Dr. Paul Okunieff,  Director of UF/Shands Cancer Center.  Dr. Okunieff will discuss treatment of metastases: specifically, the approach physicians use to stage tumors, and the impact that approach has had on treatment and cures. He will also discuss how more comprehensive staging of metastases might lead to a category of patients with metastases that can be cured. Please RSVP to Barb Thomas at

Living Beyond Breast Cancer Teleconferences

In April, the Living Beyond Breast Cancer organization ( ) will have two free teleconferences.:
April 3 from noon to 1:15 pm
Topic: Breast Cancer Genetic Risk: Communicating with your Family
Presenter: Dr. Mary Daly, Chair of the Department of Clinical Genetics at the Fox Chase Cancer Center

April 17 from noon to 1pm
Topic: Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: Medical Update
Presenter: Dr. Edith Mitchell, Clinical Professor of Medicine and Medical Oncology at the Kimmel Cancer Center.

You may register online for either or both teleconferences at or by calling
1- 610- 645-4567.

For more information about triple negative breast cancer, go to 

Volunteer for Cancer Connections

Cancer Connections is seeking volunteers to assist with monthly meetings from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm at the Hope Lodge in Gainesville. Volunteers are needed on the following dates: May 23, June 27, July 25, August 22, September 26, October 31, November 28 and December 12. If interested, please email Barb Thomas at

How to Not Get Cancer (Again)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Well it's been over three years since I've written in this blog. I actually thought I'd never write in the blog again unless my cancer returned.

Well the cancer's not returned, I know because I had my first scan in 3 years this past January to prove it. I'd like to say the cancer did not come back because I adjusted my lifestyle over the past three years - but I can't - because I really did not adjust any of my pre-cancer behavior. I actually gained 10 pounds over the past three years to tip the scale on January 1, 2012 at 235, ten pounds shy of my all time high back in 2003.

But much has changed since my last post in December 2008. One change is Nancy's parents both came to live with us as their health was failing due to their own stage 4 cancers. The other change is that I've kind of converted my business to the point where I'm a paid blogger.

Watching my mother and father in-law die of lung and prostate cancer right before my eyes was the two-by-four I needed to hit me in the head to finally get me to adjust my own lifestyle choices to minimize getting cancer again.

And since I blog for a living I figured I might as well document my "how to not get cancer again" lifestyle choices for the benefit of others.

So if you're looking for a blog about how to not get cancer written by a semi-professional blogger who has had cancer - this is your blog!

What's On My Top 10 Anti-Cancer Lifestyle Change List?

1.Seriously consider doing that which "experts" report reduces one's risk of getting cancer like...

2. Exercise,

3. Don't be overweight,

4. Reduce stress, and

5. Don't do things that "experts" report increases one's risk of getting cancer, like

6. Using tobacco,

7. Eating crappy food,

8. Being a miserable person,

9. Tanning on purpose,

10. Eating lead paint, etc.

As often as time allows I'll blog here to let you know what I've learned about the 10 points above.

The Fly - Or Just Call Me Seth

Sunday, March 18, 2012

You may well have guessed that I’m referring to the excellent 1986 film starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. For the uninitiated: Seth Brundle, a brilliant but eccentric scientist  (played by Jeff Goldblum), attempts matter transformation from one teleportation booth to another but unfortunately, just as the door closes, a fly enters and there begins his transformation into man/fly. The film is not for the squeamish, but neither is the chemo drug Taxol which I’m taking at the moment.

To come back to my point - I was standing looking in the bathroom mirror and noticed a stray long hair in my eyebrow. With the precision of a surgeon I carefully pulled the offending article away with my fingers and, bugger it, half my eyebrow fell out. “Crikey,” I said to myself, “better leave that well alone.” I decided a brush was a better solution for my head and carefully went through my hair, which promptly decided to fall out as well. “Crikey,” I said to myself. Well actually that’s a complete lie. As you’ve probably guessed the words uttered are unprintable. My first reaction was to think how Seth Brundle must have felt when he looked in the mirror and his teeth came out with just a pull of his fingers. Needless to say I didn’t brush my teeth straight away!

Welcome to the wonderful world of Taxol, the chemo drug that could double up as a sink unblocker. After Cathy shaved my head it took a while to get used to the effect but, as with everything else that has gone on in the last week, I shrugged it off as ‘another one of those things’ and decided to move on. I bought myself a nice selection of hats and decided to have a celebratory hot chocolate with Cathy, most of which dribbled down my chin onto the table.

Now, you may think I’m either taking this very lightly, have lost the plot completely, or am delusional on a myriad of drugs but you’re mistaken. After spending three days in hospital earlier in the week with my esophagus shut completely this was a walk in the park.   As Cathy described in the previous blog post, this occurred merely because I attempted to swallow an extremely well chewed, tiny piece of hot dog sausage. The effect of having your food pipe shut solid is devastating.

You end up having to spit your own saliva out literally every five minutes, twenty four hours a day. A hellish experience I would never wish to repeat. This was supposed to be my week leading some semblance of normal life before my next chemo session on March 19th. It  wasn’t to be. I was admitted into hospital on Saturday March 10th.

On the Monday after repeated failed attempts at using muscle relaxants and trying to cough the blockage up there was no alternative but an operation. I couldn’t believe it. My third trip into the ENT theatre in the last six weeks. I was in some sort of dream (nightmare) like haze. This time I didn’t care what they did as long as they could clear the blockage. Was it risky? Very much so. With luck they would be able to put an endoscope down (they had to use paediatric ones as my esophagus is so narrow) and clear the blockage fairly quickly. The worst scenario would be a tear in the esophagus which would require either an immediate operation or a lengthy stay in a High Dependancy Unit. An esophageal tear is potentially fatal as infection can spread to the chest.

Luckily, with a dedicated team behind me, whom I’ve gotten to know so well, they managed to dilate the very top of the esophagus and even though they found no food blockage there, presumed it had dropped through to my stomach. Even the general anaesthetic may have helped by relaxing the muscle wall completely. I was able to swallow a little again. I cannot begin to tell you what the simple pleasure of being able to have a cup of tea again was like. I was in heaven. I have come to accept the fact that I will never be able to swallow solid food again, but to not being able to swallow liquids, albeit in small quantities was too much to bear for me.

Just in the last month I have had a stomach peg fitted. I’ve had an infection in the wound that lasted for nearly four weeks. All of my hair has fallen out. I suffer from neuropathy which is intolerably painful at times. My blocked esophagus was operated on plus I’ve had the bonus treat of a chemo session. Oh, and the icing on the cake is…I discovered a lump on my back which was scanned on Friday March 16th and the results will be returned in a week’s time. Next time you feel you’ve had a bad day in work - think again.


Monday, March 12, 2012


Once again I am home alone whilst Hywel is on a hospital operating table. He had such a good week following the Tenovus Ball we were starting to look forward again and daring to think about going away for a short break not too far from home. Hywel has managed to get his tube feeds up to four a day, has eaten a little bit of soft food and enjoyed cups of tea now his taste improves whilst the effects of the first infusion of chemo wears off. On Saturday we went out in the morning for a drive in the new car Hywel has treated himself to, and his daughter Carly came over at lunch time to spend some time with us. Hywel had some soup and I made Elliott hotdogs. I used the small tinned hotdogs that are soft and mushy and asked Hywel if he wanted to try a bit of one. He had a really tiny piece which he chewed really well before swallowing, but it got stuck so he spent the next half an hour wretching, trying to eject it from his throat. Then all afternoon he felt as if something was stuck, and if he tried to drink anything he was just bringing it up again. After this had been going on for a couple of hours Carly and I suggested it might be an idea to go to A&E to see if they could help him dislodge it. Hywel was adamant he wasn’t going there as he would be surrounded by loads of illness and infection right in the middle of his chemo session.

By 6pm the situation hadn’t improved so I persuaded Hywel to let me at least make a phone call to let A&E know his concerns to see if he could avoid the waiting area. One of the Doctors said they would try to see Hywel quickly - as long as no major traumas came in in the meantime - but that even though there was a risk of infection it was important for him to be seen.

We got to A&E around 7pm and there were only five people in the waiting area. We were amazed - during my last couple of visits with Elliott the waiting area has been packed and we have spent four or five hours there. We speculated that everyone was out celebrating Wales’ victory over Italy in the rugby and Saturday night TV was keeping people away. We were seen very quickly and Hywel was referred to the ENT ward. He was put in a bed and given muscle relaxing injections and some Diazepam to try and relax him more. He was angry and upset that yet again he was facing another set back. He'd made plans to go out with some friends to an exhibition in Worcester the next day and he would now miss out and be spending more time in hospital. He was angry with me because I had given him the food which caused the problem, and he wished he'd just stuck to soup and liquids and accepted that that was all he could manage. He had been eating a bit of mash potato with corned beef and gravy a week or so ago so we had thought a soft hotdog sausage would be a similar consistency.

The buscopan injection didn’t make any difference, he could still feel the blockage and he couldn’t swallow any water. He was admitted and told the injections would be tried again in the morning and a decision made from there.

I asked my friend June to sit with Elliott when I realised we were going to be a while, she then stayed on so I could take an overnight bag back to the hospital. It was 11pm by the time I returned and it took me twenty minutes to find a way in! I dropped the stuff off and left after a quick chat with nurse practitioner who told me it was likely Hywel would need surgery to remove the blockage.

Hywel was less angry the next day but exhausted by all the wretching and not being able to clear his throat. They had tried the injections again in the morning but to no avail. His consultant spoke to me in the afternoon as he was on call that weekend and said he still hoped that the food might dislodge itself but that Hywel was on the morning list for surgery if it didn’t.

I sat with Hywel through visiting in the evening. He told me all he wants is for the surgeons to stretch things enough for him to be able to share a cup of tea with me when we drive down to Ogmore to sit by the sea. He will use his feeding tube as much as he can and stick to just soup. I spoke to Hywel at 9am this morning and he was gowned up and waiting to go down. It is now 11.30am and I am waiting for a call to tell me how it went. I’ve tried ringing the ward a few times but haven’t got an answer yet. Will let you know how it goes.

You shall go to the ball.......

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Even though you feel like crap. That wasn't in Cinderella.

Well, the big day for me had finally arrived. The Tenovus Annual Charity Ball. An important event on the calendar and an opportunity to fundraise as much as possible to help with much needed services to combat this evil disease. I have just spent the last month going through hell. It has been four weeks since my stomach PEG was fitted and four weeks later I still have an infection in the wound. This isn’t helped in the slightest by having commenced chemo two weeks ago, plus my immune system is shot to bits at the moment. The minute my antibiotics come to an end I’m back on another lot.

I have also begun to realise the huge social implications of not being able to eat normally. They really are massive and have an enormous impact on my life. This is something I struggle to come to terms with. The simple pleasure of eating a meal with my family or friends, or going out for a meal has now disappeared and again I have to adjust my life to cope with it. It’s incredibly difficult to go to a function complete with five course meal knowing that firstly I cannot eat any of it and secondly I have to watch everyone else enjoying theirs!

Day five to ten on chemo was, as I expected, bloody awful. My body was so racked with myalgia that even heavy doses of morphine didn’t touch it and I spent a long time in bed doubled up in pain. Thankfully the worst was over in two days and began easing. Having to cope with this and an infection in an open wound in my stomach really made me feel like giving up at times. It was no life for me and I felt so sorry for Cathy and the kids who had to witness it. But, like before I grit my teeth and grind my way through every second of it, trying to think of some nice things to look forward to, like the Tenovus Ball.
Myself and Cathy at the Ball

March 2nd arrived and I had been looking forward to this event for a long time. I didn’t feel too bad during the day so I dressed up smartly in my dinner suit. Cathy had her hair curled and put on a new dress, and we both made our way to the Coal Exchange in Cardiff. We had booked a table for ten people. Ourselves, my eldest two children and partners and some very special friends. It was a lovely evening. I had been asked to say a few words in a short question and answer session and even though I was facing three hundred people including Rob Brydon and Lawrence and Jackie Llewelyn Bowen I was unfazed by it. I feel it’s extremely important to be given the opportunity to speak publicly about my cancer experience in the hope of breaking down some of the myths and barriers that surround it. Our choir were also singing at the event, so Cathy took part in the performance. Sadly I was unable to perform with the choir as my voice is a problem for me again since my surgery six weeks ago.
Myself and daughter Carly

There were times throughout the evening that I found hard going. I tried some of the soup but that was a mistake and I spent the next half hour in the toilet bringing it all up again. Ah well, worth a go I suppose. I had some special friends travel down from Scotland to be with me. I say special because I had never met them before but we had got to know each other over the last twelve months through Twitter. It was a pleasure and an honour to meet Heather and Stephen and it felt as if we’d know them for ever. Luckily we were able to meet the following day and chat for hours without me having to struggle to make myself heard. Can’t wait to meet them again. Lisa Derrick was there as well. We didn’t know each other a year ago but without Lisa this blog wouldn’t exist and she has given her time and effort to help build, promote and forward it without hesitation. For that I’m extremely grateful. June Bowen Jones was there for me, minus her husband Martin unfortunately, two people who have been unquestionably supportive since the beginning of my cancer journey. My two eldest children, Luke and Carly were there with their partners Eloise and Jon and it was lovely to have all these people who have meant so much to us together for the night.

By 11pm I was feeling shattered and it was time to go. It had been a hard evening for us all emotionally, and for myself a physically and mentally draining one, but I was so glad I made it there, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Humanitarian-physician Jose Greer on delivering medical care to the homeless

Monday, March 5, 2012

One of the nation's leading humanitarian-physicians and a UF alumnus will speak at the Bob Graham Center at 6 p.m. on March 13 at Pugh Hall. 

Dr. Pedro Jose "Joe" Greer, the assistant dean of academic affairs at Florida International University, will discuss his pioneering work delivering medical care to the homeless. Greer is the founder of Camillus Health Concern, an agency that provides medical care to Miami's homeless. He is also the founder of the St. John Bosco Clinic, which helps undocumented immigrants in the Miami area.

Greer has advised Presidents George Bush, Sr. and Bill Clinton on health care and poverty and has been honored by several U.S. presidents with some of the nation's highest honors including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

His autobiography, "Waking Up in America: How One Doctor Brings Hope to Those Who Need it Most,"  details his early years as a physician, delivering care to patients living under highway overpasses in Miami. His story has been featured on television stations such as ABC, CBS, NBC, and HBO, among others.