Last week I put a post up on Facebook, asking if anyone knew of a uniboober or flattie in need to a pocket. Jennifer West responded, asking for a single pocket to be made for her cousin Bethany.  Here is what Jennifer said about Bethany:

My dear cousin Bethany died of breast cancer on Sept. 15 of this year. She was a brilliant soul: sweet, spunky and fearless. She had one breast removed and was in remission when the cancer returned with a vengeance and spread to her brain. The world will miss her.

It is so very sad to hear that another woman has died from this crazy disease. Rest peacefully Bethany, we will not forget and we miss you.

In the first few weeks after being diagnosed, I wondered, Geez, I am vegetarian, I am a healthy weight, what more can I do, should I do, to be even healthier? I looked at my breast surgeon and said, “I guess I need to start exercising”. She laughed at me and said something to the effect of, being diagnosed with breast cancer makes you want to exercise? And, well, yeah. I already eat healthy, I walk a lot, and as far as a life threatening disease goes, the one thing I can control is what I do with my body and how I eat. So exercise has been a major focus for me since I was diagnosed.

Months ago, I asked on a breast cancer board, what sort of exercise the other women were doing. One woman pointed out a website that, at first, was a boon, but then turned out to be a bane. The great part about finding that site was that it taught me that in terms of exercise, you are the person you need to compete with. You exercise because it makes you feel good and over time, you will also look better.

I fell in love with the host, I loved her gangly body and sheer excitement in cheering us on and encouraging us, but then…she got a boob job. And a lip job. And hair extensions. And a nose job. And now she still cheers folks on with excitement but I can’t see her anymore.  I watched with fascination as she made these changes to her already fantastic physique. Was she making these changes to get more followers? Did she have to get such big ones? I couldn’t get past the idea that she did it in response to the patriarchal demands that our society places on us as women, especially if we don’t know how to parse and separate ourselves from our culture. So I moved on. (No links to that site, she doesn’t deserve your attention.)

So, I started to get serious and began researching exercise after breast cancer, and you might think that with all this ‘awareness’ going on that someone would have an exercise program suited to the 12% of U.S. women who will be diagnosed in their lifetime. I found a research paper on weightlifting for women at risk of lymphedema after breast cancer treatment on the Journal of the American Medical Association. Then I found Marianne at MyOhMyTv. I watched her videos, read her posts and decided she was on my team, she is a feminist, who is smart and savvy, knows how to introspect about her own fitness goals and she is a founding member of Girls Gone Strong (here is the Girls Gone Strong Facebook page), all of the members of this group are on my fitness blogroll! I contacted Marianne, telling her of my needs as a survivor, and asking if she would be willing to work with me as an online client. I emailed the study results to her, she read them over and agreed.

I haven’t been working with her for long, but I am being consistent and I am seeing some initial results. Just this morning, as we were snuggling and waking up, David said, you are feeling tighter! And I have to say, I also feel more balanced, centered in my body, my endurance has improved, and yes, I am tightening up all over the place. It feels good.

I will be talking more about body image, society and the female form in the next few posts, and I do hope you are interested.

6 thoughts on “Bethany

  1. I read your post with interest regarding women, exericise and breast cancer. I was diagnosed two years ago and prior to my diagnosis I had started working with a personal trainer. After my diagnosis, I was determined not to let this fall to the wayside. I continued to do my training as best I could during my treatment. I was back to the gym a week after my lumpectomy walking on the treadmilll. I have a fabuulous trainer (male) who read up on surgery, the drugs, etc and made adjustments to my routine all through the process. There were days I probably would not have gotten out of bed if I didn’t know he was waiting for me. It made a HUGE difference! I have been on Anastozole for 2 years and haven’t gained a pound despite being told that the average woman gains 15 while taking it.

    thanks for the links I will definitely check them out. You are making quite a stir on my quilt blogs with your Breast Pocket Project. Thanks for bringing this issue to people’s attention, It is somethiing that is not being talked about enough. All the best to you and keep “pumping iron”!


  2. Thanks so much for the link. I checked out the GGS website and Marianne’s show. This is on the top of my to do list. I have been babying my body and miss being physical. I have always been one of “those” people who enjoyed moving and to stop because of doctor’s orders caused me to change doctors. I have always been square, imagine a box with toothpick legs and boobs, lol! I exercised because obesity and all the ills that go with it are pervasive with both sides of the family tree. But truthfully, I exercised for ME. I know that I am happiest when I am physically active.
    Breast pockets from the West Coast should arrive on your doorstep next week (Tue/Wed). I had to make myself quit stitching so I could get them in the mail.


  3. Hi Melly,

    Just wanted to thank you for sharing this and giving me and the other GGS a shout out. I am totally blown away by your progress and your mental attitude. I can “see” a huge change not only in the outer you, but the inner you. Which also happens to be a huge part of the GGS message 🙂



  4. I applaud you for searching for just the right workout for you and your body. Exercise is not always a ‘one size fits all’ kind of thing especially as we age or when we’re diagnosed with illnesses.
    I have not been through what you have but I have some other issues and what has brought me ‘back to life’ is power yoga. Again, it’s not for everyone but not only has it physically strengthened me and helped me to get healthier but it has a major impact on stress and emotions. It’s such a calming experience that I highly recommend trying it. To me it’s meditation in motion.
    Good luck to you!


  5. This is very appropriate for me right now. I’m about 2-1/2 weeks out of radiation and am very fatigued. I just met with a personal trainer at my local Y who is a cancer specialist and will help me get back into exercise and hopefully beyond the fatigue.

    I received no information from my doctors about what to do after radiation or how long the fatigue could last (just that I “would get over it quickly” – although I have read and my general doctor also said it could take up to a year).

    Also, two pockets are on the way to you. If you would like to see them before they arrive, I posted them on my blog.


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