I invite you to listen to In the Rising Podcast- a show dedicated to helping others create change and a life that they really want.
"Living the life I want" was a phrase that I heard often while working with clients going through cancer, and so I created this podcast. I also saw that there is a gap in knowledge about cancer, lymphedema and how to manage recovery, so I created Fit after Breast Cancer.
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In Good Health!
[00:00:00] Bettina M Brown, ITR Host: Hello and welcome to In the Rising a Health and Wellness Podcast for those going through and those supporting those going through cancer. My name is Betina Brown and I'm board certified in physical therapy, wound care and lymphedema. And you know, for me, cancer is very personal. It's affected my friends, my immediate and my not so immediate family, and therefore, I created this podcast and FitafterBreastCancer.com to address the multiple dimensions of our lives during and after recovery.
I had the opportunity to pause and just have a conversation with my friend Amy, who also survived cancer, is a cancer thriver, and really focused on helping others in the breast cancer community. Our paths crossed more than once, and here we are again, crisscrossing. But I really want to have a series with Amy where you get to hear her take on.
Diagnosis on treatment, on surviving and thriving financially, emotionally, spiritually, and how to navigate your friendships as well as parenthood in the same time. So I'm excited for you to listen to Amy's conversation, and I have a power quote for us at the end as always, and I look forward to meeting you on the other side.
But I wanted to start off with just where you were in an emotional space in your life before. Interesting. Did you feel you had a good, solid foundation?
[00:01:52] Amy Robinson: So, so the question if I understand it, is kind of what was going on for me emotionally prior to my diagnosis with cancer and what was the foundation underneath me going into that.
Yes. Yeah. Well, you know, it's so interesting and, and I always go into my own experience and then also the experiences of those around me too. But for myself, I definitely had been in a period of high stress. . I had, I had gone through, a very challenging divorce prior to that. , there was ongoing court processes associated with that.
And so it, you know, that was kind of an ongoing underlayer, I think of just kind of inflammation going on in my life that was challenging. And then there were, Some reversals that we had experienced as a result of that. Some financial reversals and you know, I was working very hard. I was working, Kind of seven days a week, being very duty focused.
You know, I'm someone who really cares a lot and I really wanna do the best possible job for everybody that I'm working with, really support them, and then also take good care of my daughter. So I, I think that I really came into it with. You know, some cons. A considerable, considerable underlayment of stress in my life that was just kind of weaving through my life and also this real attention to just making sure I was doing the best job that I could for everybody that I was
[00:03:19] Bettina M Brown, ITR Host: working with.
But I wanted to talk about this moment when you said you were weaving stress Yeah. In and out of your life. Yeah. And you were very duty focused and caring a lot for others. Yeah. How did you balance that with meditation?
[00:03:35] Amy Robinson: Oh, that's such a good question and I. Feel like it's such a rich question for so many of us.
And I, you know, again, I, I can, I can go into like the details of my own life, but just with the way I think about things, I always kind of go out as well, and I, I have to just, Jump in with the information that I've learned from Dr. Ga Monte's work, in the Myth of Normal, where he talks about how these ca he sees these characteristics and everybody who has cancer and, and people who have autoimmune disease and other issues too.
And one of them is this hyper focus on duty and taking care of the needs of others. And it's. It's kind of amazing like this real, taking care of other people re really being so attentive to supporting other people taking care of their needs, not disappointing others. And so, you know, I think it depends on the lens you're looking through.
Some might call that. Being codependent. Others are looking at it as being, you know, very supportive. Other people are just thinking, well, this is how we've been taught to be in our culture as women, you know, and then later as mothers. And so I feel like there's so many layers to that discussion, but I certainly.
I'm someone who, you know, I, think there's all the elements there probably for me too, but it also comes from just caring about other people, like really genuinely caring about others, wanting to do the best, and then sometimes choosing to do that at the expense of myself. So I think that that was a choice that I made a lot of the time leading up to my diagnosis.
[00:05:19] Bettina M Brown, ITR Host: And what you said at the expense of myself, because I cannot tell you how many conversations I had mm-hmm. Primarily with women. Yes. That kept the, the same theme at the expense of myself I gave to everyone else. Everyone else came first. Yeah. And some really felt that this had not a reason. Like, this is not your blame.
Correct. This is why you had cancer. But that it definitely helped. Put an environment together where, where dis-ease. Yes. Disease. Unwellness kind of could multiply, like it was the right soil. Right. When you, when you think back on that now, do you feel that our environment, like you and I live in the United States, we're more of an industrialized country.
We're, you know, information overloaded? Do you feel like we're setting ourselves up for. Kind of burnout and body burnout, just by the way we live our day-to-day life. I
[00:06:21] Amy Robinson: absolutely do. And I feel like there's many levels of being set up in this way. And so it's, it's like salmon swimming upstream if you wanna take good care of yourself because we get so much messaging from the time we're kids to not do so.
And you know, if we think about. How we're taught to, evaluate our value as human beings. It's not for being human beings, it's for human being, human doings, you know, all of our accomplishments, all of the things that we're supposed to be doing. And there's this hustle culture that we've all heard a lot about, and there's.
So much of a sense that you just need to constantly be hustling and achieving and achieving, and achieving and achieving. And we're not valuing just who we are as people and being a human being and that we are of value just for who we are, that each of us. Are a brilliant and beautiful light that we bring to this world, and that is unique.
Nobody else can shine the light, that we can shine. And so it's not just about stacking up that stack of achievements, it's about bringing our full and whole self to this life.
[00:07:43] Bettina M Brown, ITR Host: wanted to thank you so much for listening to this podcast and for supporting it and growing it the way that you have. I am so very, very grateful, and I also wanted to just reemphasize the. Importance of being a community and being out there. And one of my ways of sharing the community and knowledge is by developing fit after breast cancer.com, where you can read blogs about research, you can hear the stories of other people going through cancer or have words of wisdom to encourage you on those tough days.
I look forward to seeing you there and thank you again so much for your support.
And with that, you heard trained in meditating and yet you were still doing the seven day a week. Yeah, and I. I think that is, that brings up something that I personally can identify with and I think many that yes, we can know in our mind and we can still be practicing the ways to slow down, but it's also a good thing to evaluate.
Are we actually. Slowing down. Right. Even with all of our practices. And do you feel that you were already balancing in that direction? The, the being with the meditation and then the seven day week doing and motherhood, which is a lot. So I. Or do you think like, you know, I, I do it better now than I did that.
[00:09:15] Amy Robinson: Well, it's so much and we're all holding so much, and I think that goes back to those overlays of culture that you were talking about as well of, you know, we don't, remember living in Europe that there's in, in Europe and, and other industrialized societies, like we don't. There are more safety nets, there are more opportunities.
So if people do get sick, if they do get cancer, then you know, they don't have to worry about being constantly hustling while in treatment. Like so many of the people that I talk to there are these safety nets. They're not at risk of losing their medical insurance, if while they're in treatment, if they're not working full-time and things like that.
So I think that, you know, for so many people, there's so many places where we feel like, well, you know, I'm, I'm in a place where I need to be working and producing and making things happen to be able to sustain my household. And I think, you know, most of us are probably in that boat and so we just get to keep working towards the best solutions that we can, can find and create, to be able to balance those things to the best of our ability.
And, and it's. It really feels to me like it's on a moment by moment basis. And then that, that kind of stretches out to hour by hour and day by day, and how are we choosing to create our lives? And there are moments in all of these lives that it's just so busy and we're building and there is stuff to do, and that's okay.
It's okay if that's the case as long as we're finding a sense of balance. And we're, we're, we're. Checking in and taking loving, gentle care of ourselves. And, and I, I love and incorporate that saying from, Joseph Campbell about leaning towards the light that we've talked about before, of just like, how can I lean in the direction of.
What is best for me? How can I lean in the direction of moving towards what is most the most nourishing way to live this moment and this day? Right now, it's not always gonna be perfect. Sometimes we're feeling crummy and we gotta, we gotta get things done, you know? But maybe by taking it more slowly, Leaving enough time to get things done taking, you know, for example, in my meditation practice and in my meditation teaching, I teach about the three breaths exercise, which is where we just slow down and we take three gentle, deep breaths.
We have to breathe anyway, you know, so it, it's not like we're not gonna be breathing, we gotta be breathing anyway, so we can do it mindfully. We can find that space and the breath and, and, and that takes us to the fact that most of us in Western cultures we're breathing in just the very upper part of the lungs, which just naturally the way that works with our vagus nerve and what have you, it puts us more into that fight or flight mode, which is.
Is harder on our nervous system. And then when we take the deeper breaths, then that activates the vagus nerve in a different way and we're moving into the rest and digest. So even just in the midst of a busy day, in the midst of a busy hour, just taking that time. For three breaths can transform that moment towards a more nourishing moment so that we can get back to doing what we need to do, but doing it from a place of, um, nervous system regulation.
[00:12:49] Bettina M Brown, ITR Host: And you brought up a really good point with that. What I think is those three breaths can then be basically a safety net for you that you have to take throughout your day. Because like you said, we have to breathe anyway, right. As well. Take advantage of it. And, and what I wanted to also emphasize is the safety net.
Having lived in Europe and lived here, Because in some of the conversations I had with clients, there was a lot of guilt of, I still need to do this, I still need to do that, or I'm now not working. And my partner, husband, spouse, I have not, or family has to work and I. I think we also need to acknowledge what nets we do and do not have.
You know, and when I was in Europe, I was born, I was in the hospital for 10 days. My parents took me home. My son born in the United States, was in the hospital 10 days. I came home with $10,000 worth of debt. You know, so it, it's a very different and had to get another job. So it's, it's a very different experience.
Yes. For the entire compartment of, of everything with our safety nets here. Where do you feel when you're in the beginning of the journey of. Diagnosis, what safetyness can we look for right off the bat? That's such
[00:14:07] Amy Robinson: a good question. It's such a rich and important question, and I feel like it also speaks to, again, some of that messaging that we get as women that not only are we supposed to be everything to everybody and we're supposed to do.
All the things. We're also supposed to not ask for help. I feel like that's part of the messaging that we get too, is though, somehow it's a failing to ask for help. And so I would say the first safety unit as we're going into a diagnosis is to acknowledge we cannot do everything as we're going through treatment.
We're gonna need to perhaps start weaving our own safety net at that time. By reaching out to our community and just stretching what that community might be. I know for example, you know, when I was diagnosed, I was living in New Mexico. All of my family was living in California and I had friends here, I had people that I'd known for a number of years, but it was, it was a little scary being a single mom, you know, without a partner and without family here having to face this on my own.
So I did need to really start thinking, okay, who can I ask for help? Who can I ask for support? And for example, one thing that I did, is I decided that I wanted to have, A friend go with me to every chemo. And so I just made kind of a schedule ahead of time and I planned out the chemos and I talked to friends, and then sometimes I had family flying in and I would just make it, make it set up in such a way that this was then gonna be some fun connection and social time.
Or sometimes they'd just be sitting with me while I napped because the Benadryl put me out. But you know, a lot of times it was. A way to connect and just hang out and catch up with each other. And that made it sweeter and more special. I know there were multiple friends that did like meal trains for me, and it was really sweet because they did that at my daughter's school and then all of these people started just showing up outta the woodwork.
And I have had some beautiful friendships blossom out of that support that just showed up at my door with a warm meal for my daughter and me. And I think that reaching out and asking for that help, sometimes it's, it's almost painful when we're used to doing all the things and kind of having our sense of identity as being someone who is strong and accomplished and can do so much.
It's hard. It's hard. So even if I, I think my advice to those that are phasing a diagnosis is even if it feels hard to ask, to just go ahead and try and not everybody will show up, you know? But some people will. And that can just feel so beautiful to allow people to come and help and, and also let them come in when the house is kind of dirty and you need the bathrooms cleaned and let them clean them and just allow that to happen.
It's really beautiful to experience what I, what I felt was kind of the sisterhood that just showed up for me in so many beautiful ways.
[00:17:27] Bettina M Brown, ITR Host: And Amy, I know that you created your own. SubHub your own area community for those going through breast cancer, and I would like for you to share a little bit about that.
[00:17:38] Amy Robinson: created this community that is made up of all kinds of amazing practitioners and women on this path. It's, it's people who are providing, spaces for us to just talk. And, and so I created this community that is made up of all kinds of amazing practitioners and women on this path. It's, it's, People who are providing, , spaces for us to just talk and uplift one another and support one another.
It is very much a growth mindset that post-traumatic growth. But to get to that post-traumatic growth, you first need to. Speak your truth with what is going on and find that acceptance and you know, move in that direction of trust where you can and uplift one another and support one another. It is very much a growth mindset that post-traumatic growth, but to get to that post-traumatic growth, you first need to speak your truth with what is going on and find that acceptance and, you know, move in that direction of trust where you can.
[00:18:46] Bettina M Brown, ITR Host: So Amy has so much great information and she just carries herself with such a spiritual and deep connection to herself and to others. And when she says, I think outward as well, she's not making that up for this conversation. She really does and embodies. What thriving at any point in your life is really all about.
And my power quote for you today is nothing that I pulled off the internet that any philosopher said. I actually listened to it this morning during my workout and it was Justin from body and he said something very powerful about breathing, and he said, breathe in greatness and exhale greatness. Be with your own greatness and all of the things that you have overcome, what you have gone through.
Because how we do it that we do, it is part of our legacy. And I'm so grateful for your time today. And if you feel that this episode would really benefit someone, I invite you to share it to them. The more hands and ears that we put this type of information in, the better it is for them. You never know whose life you can change.
All the information's down in the show notes and until next time, let's keep building one another up!