One woman sat on the bench against the windows, uncertain of her welcome or of her capability to move with the other Sunflower Wellness participants. I let her be; and soon enough she joined the circle.
I told them all of my initial experience as a presenter for a Breast Cancer Fund conference, “Recovering Sexuality After a Diagnosis of Cancer”. Then I taught them a short movement sequence and directed them just as I did the conference attendees 26 years ago —
“Okay, let’s do these steps deliberately clumsy and as though we’re embarrassed and shy. Good, now let’s try that sequence as angry and defiant! How about indifferent? Now confident, now sexy.”
What qualites do you present by the way that you hold yourself?
There may be a healing, emotional as well as physical, available in movement, especially when we considered not only the body mechanics of exercise, but also the WAY that we move.
Can you imagine other movement games that I might employ?
Just 3 people came to the Sunflower Wellness class this Friday; but they were very receptive to an intimate conversation. Between unison exercises using elastic tubing, I continued the tale of my mother’s breast cancer diagnosis, 26 years ago.
Mom asked me not to drive down to L.A. for her treatment. She said that my action would give her cancer diagnosis greater weight than she wanted it to hold. In her mind, the trouble would be quickly and curatively resolved, “…so please don’t fuss over me about it.”
When does our concern as a care giver become a burden?
By the 5th year after my own primary cancer treatment, I too felt like my problem had been resolved. Then the disease recurred. I’m 4 years out from the second treatment, radiation, and, unlike the first time, still feel its weight. How powerful, the assignment of meaning and priority… how subjective. Is there any benefit to the worry?
Of course the assignment of significance doesn’t have to be about issues of mortality. I think what made Friday’s subsequent class conversation easy was the agreement in the room that, in general, life’s hardships and joys are a matter of individual interpretation. “It’s a marathon,” one of the participants commented.
I kept this week’s Sunflower Wellness class slow; and continued my story about Andrea Martin, the founder of the Marin Breast Cancer Fund.
What aspects of your life affirm a sense of purpose?
Perhaps seven or eight years passed before I saw her again. I was in my prime ballet performing years when Andrea asked me to be a presenter at one of her Breast Cancer Fund conferences. I was honored, but terrified by the prospect of leading hundreds of women who would gathered to cope with a disease I’d never experience; and, other than Andrea, no one in my world had ever had. What use could I possibly be to them? I was about to call Andrea to decline her offer, when I noticed the flashing read light on my answering machine. It was a message from my mother, informing me that she’d just been diagnosed. It felt like a command from God.
When I finished speaking to Mom, I immediately made the second call, “Hello Andrea, I’d love to participate in your conference.”
The conference “Recovering Sexuality After A Diagnosis of Breast Cancer” was a huge success. My part was exploring simple steps and then asking the women to adopt different moods and characters as they repeated the movement sequence, “Okay, this time I’ll put on rock music and I’d like you to do the step…this time bashful…okay, now angry…now defiant.” I used a classical music adagio for sadness, and when I thought them playfully confident and ready, I switch to a tune with latin percussion for SEXY.
What other group exercises do you think I might use to bring a similar experience to my class?