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.