One Year Cancerversary

(photo: Larisa Forman)

Healing Breast Cancer (photo: Larisa Forman)

Dates are important to people with long-term illness: we celebrate them with a vengeance. We celebrate everything actually – because every moment we’re still here is a fucking party. Harrowing and victorious moments alike are crystalized into milestones, because each one reminds us that we’re not dead yet. Pain and pleasure are like sugar and salt – two sides of the same living and breathing, sensuous world.

We remember the first time we told someone we had cancer with the same clarity we remember the first time we told someone we’d been accepted into college. We remember the first time we made love as a cancer patient the same way we remember loosing our virginity. We remember the first chemotherapy infusion and the first time we threw up. We remember the first time our white blood cell count dropped dangerously low and we were declared neutropenic. But in addition to all the bumps in the road, we remember and celebrate all the hurdles we’ve cleared, and every single finish line we’ve crossed: first round of chemo completed: check. Second round of chemo completed: check. Tumor removed: check. Adjunctive chemotherapy completed: check. First anniversary of diagnosis: check. And then the big ones: The one year anniversary of the cancer’s removal, and the even bigger one: the second year anniversary of the cancer’s removal, and then the biggest one: the 5 year anniversary of the cancer’s removal.

Maybe it seems like a lot of hoopla. Is that really a word? Maybe it seems ceremonial overkill. But if you’re part of this tribe, if you’ve ever taken a trip to Cancerland, you know how important these annual markers are.

Today is the one year anniversary of my mastectomy; my cancer’s removal. That means that for one year I have been N.E.D. (No Evidence of Disease). If I can make it to July 25th, 2015 without a reoccurrence, I will be 80% likely to beat this damn disease entirely. 80%. That’s a pretty big deal. So I know we just made a big deal about how I finally, after 16 months and 31 infusions, I finished chemotherapy – but to me, this is an even bigger deal. I don’t need a party, or a big display of public support… I just need to share this moment with you – and with my fellow breast cancer sisters, and celebrate in my own little way.

This morning I went for a ride with our Nantucket cycling group. It was my 4th ride this week. And even though I know they slowed down significantly for me, I hung on through the whole ride, and averaged a personal best speed. That to me is the party. The ongoing celebration of life. The fight. The victory. The triumph.

This time last year I was on an operating table at Mass General Hospital. Dr. Michelle Specht was removing my tumor, the invasive cancer that covered 3/4th of my breast, and taking the other one off proactively. My plastic surgeon was about to surgically place two silicon implants into my chest. I hand needles in my arms and tubes draining out my sides.  I wasn’t sure when I woke up if I would still have my own nipples. We didn’t know how many of my lymph nodes would be cancerous. We didn’t really know how well I had respond to chemotherapy. We didn’t know that a year later, I would be riding with a pack of highly driven cyclists. We didn’t know that I would win.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

~Mary Oliver.

how to love a chair

Goddess pose

(photo: Larisa Forman)

16 months ago I invited you to join me on an adventure to CancerLand. Through my pieces on Rebelle Society and the more spontaneous posts here on my blog, I took you with me from the point of my initial diagnosis (terrifying), on a chemotherapy roller coaster ride (tenacious) and through my surgical recovery (triumphant). We’ve moved through the phases of my disease and healing process together as a tribe and I’ve tried not to pull any punches along the way. I’ve attempted to share my experience of cancer with you without embellishment, exaggeration or pretense. I’ve tried to be authentic: presenting my vulnerabilities when feeling weak, and my fortitude when feeling strong. Hopefully together we have demystified the big C at least a little, shed some light on chemotherapy, debunked mastectomy and embraced on the healing process.

I hope that through my writings, my FaceBook posts, and my Instagram pics, that you’ve seen just how resilient we humans are. Since I began attending the cancer support group at Palliative & Supportive Care of Nantucket, we have said good-bye to a number of extraordinary members. Each parting has been painful, scary and traumatic for those of us remaining. But my resolve, OUR resolve as a community to memorialize those who have departed by living the fullest lives we can live, and cherishing every single fucking moment, has grown with each grief-choked tear.

I can no better explain to you why some of us survive and others pass than you could reassure your 20-something year old daughter that after immense heartbreak, she will in time fall in love again. But here I am. And here we are. And I’m still writing. And you’re still reading. And we owe it to Jenny and Claudia, and my late husband Aaron, and everyone we’ve loved and lost to keep going.

We owe it to them to smile big, laugh lots, and love hard.

Now, as of July 16th, almost a year and a half after our disembarkation, I’ve finally  come home. I’m finished with treatment. The infusions are over. My time in the chemo chair is over. The trips to MGH are bi-annual and in just 9 days I will be able to say I am officially a year out from the removal of my tumor. 365 more days after that I will be 80% likely to side-step a reoccurrence.  Something will kill me eventually, but it won’t be cancer.

I’m sure I’ll write about my life as a cancer survivor in the months and years to come, but for today, I’d like to leave you with the following video. My heartfelt thanks to Lisa Frey for filming, and to all of you for watching.

###

(10 Practical Tips for the First 10 Days of Cancer)

(Making the Breast Decision)

(Life After the Knife)

{How to Talk to Someone with Cancer)

(Let’s be Friends)

 

Launching into the water June 2014

I am thrilled to be taking my practice off the mat and onto the water this summer. To learn more about Nantucket SUP Yoga, please check out our website, which goes live Monday May 26th, and look for us on Twitter at @ACKsupYoga and FaceBook. To celebrate our official launch into the water on Monday, June 23rd 2014, we are offering 4 FREE Fluid SUP Yoga classes the 2nd and 3rd weekend of June. In the mean time, you can register for all of our classes here: Register Now

Nantucket SUP Yoga Navasana

Are you interested in our celebratory Fluid Opening? Sign up to participate in one of our FREE Fluid Opening sessions. There will be 5 slots available for those who need the full equipment rental, and 10 slots available for those who wish to BYOB (bring your own board). Saturday June 14th and 21st I will offer an 8:00-9:30am Fluid Flow class and Sunday June 15th and 22nd I will offer a Fluid Meditation. As will all our yoga classes, students are encouraged to wear synthetic (quick drying) yoga clothes. Students interested in attending the Fluid Meditation classes at sunset should wear warmer clothing and perhaps a wind breaker. If you have additional information, or need help using the MindBody software to register for a class, please don’t hesitate to call me.
Because this practice is weather dependent, the location of each of our classes will be announced on our FaceBook page and on our class schedule the evening before the session is slated. Be sure to check our schedule FREQUENTLY for any cancelations due to heavy wind or rain.
Screen-Shot-2014-05-20-at-10.47.03-AM-494x640 (1)
~See you on the water,
Caitlin
(508)332-2546
caitlin@nantucketsupyoga.com

Fire Flow: Sunday, April 6th

Sunday, April 6th, 2014
3-5pm
Providence Power Yoga
51 Bassett Street
Providence, RI
 
 
 
 

Sweet N’ Low Yoga Flow: May 4th, 2014

Sunday, 2-4pm
Eyes of the World 
Providence, RI.

 Sweet N' Low Yoga Flow
$35 by Fri Jan 24
$45 by Jan 25

 

Unifier Festival: June 5-8th, 2014

 

Unifier Festival

A Transformational Healing & Expressive Arts Festival
June 5-8th, 2014
Lebanon, CT

Honoring and bringing together different sub-cultures this gathering is a yoga festival, it is a tribal belly dance festival.  It is a world and sacred music festival, and dance party, a live art show, a place for ceremony, for permaculture, for  sculptural works and circus arts.  It is a place to care for the land and to eat organic food, and to be inspired and inspire our kids and our elders.

A significant portion of proceeds from Unifier Festival over multiple years will be put in a   Land Trust Fund for a retreat center and  potential eco-village to be owned in perpetuity, governed by council, and in service to the community.

Tickets available soon!

Sex, Lust and Cancer

henri de toulouse-lautrec The Kiss, In bed 1892

I have a new piece up on RebelleSociety.com. It’s called Sex, Lust and Cancer: Tips for Staying Sexually Alive, and it’s by far the most personally revealing, intimate piece I have written to date. It feels a little scary, putting everything out there, but so far the feedback I’ve gotten from other cancer survivors has been tremendous. If the article has helped shed some light on a taboo subject for even a handful of people, any vulnerability I feel having published it is well worth it.

My journey continues. Yesterday I had my 23rd infusion (my 5th in this cycle) and I’m one step closer to the finish line (I have 8 more to go). Although I feel exhausted, this infusion hasn’t rocked me nearly as hard as the last one did three weeks ago. For that I am grateful.

In between treatments my life continues. I have been lucky enough to go on two exotic yoga retreats this winter and study with some amazing and powerful teachers. In addition to having the new piece out on Rebelle, I recently took the bull by the horns and started writing my book on using yoga to navigate cancer. I’m teaching more and more yoga, (now quite a bit off-island) and just reopened my massage therapy practice. I feel like I’m finding my rhythm again.

I think 2014 is going to be an amazing year. May it be for you too!

Love Yoga Fest: August 15th-17th

Caitlin teaching at the 2014 LoveYoga Fest

Caitlin teaching at the 2014 LoveYoga Fest

The Love Yoga Festival is a celebration of all things yoga and wellness for yogis of all levels. The fest will feature a fun welcome evening followed by two full days of yoga, body and energy work, and unique experiences … plus, we have exciting surprises to reveal in the coming weeks! We are thrilled to be bringing you some well-known names in the yoga community as well as favorite instructors from throughout New England, including Cape Cod.

Full festival lineup & tickets coming January 2014!

Electric Love Charity Class: Thursday March 27th

Thursday, March 27th, 2014
6-8pm
The Dreamland Film & Performing Arts Center
Studio Theatre
Nantucket, MA. 02554

Electric Love

ELECTRIC LOVE YOGA, MUSIC & ART CHARITY EVENT
A BENEFIT FOR PALLIATIVE & SUPPORTIVE CARE OF NANTUCKET

Nantucket, MA – Yoga teacher Caitlin Marcoux, local DJ Pete Ahern, Brooklyn artist Craig Anthony Miller and special guest Clay Twombly team up to offer Nantucket yoga students an evening of visual and auditory inspiration sponsored by the Dreamland Film & Performing Arts Center and Verde Nantucket Green Build.

This 2 hour yoga and meditation practice will feature live music by Ahern and virtual streaming of impromptu graffiti art created by Miller specifically for the event.

Marcoux, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last March, is extremely excited to give back in this way to PASCON, where she has attended monthly cancer support groups and individual counseling. All four artists have been effected by cancer and feel passionately about supporting organizations such as PASCON who work tirelessly to care for those in need. Palliative & Supportive Care of Nantucket is a specialized health care program dedicated to providing excellent physical, psychological, social, and spiritual care for persons with life-threatening illness and their families.

This yoga practice will be mixed-level. All yogis, regardless of number of years practicing, are encouraged to participate. Please bring your own yoga mats and props.

Tickets here:

Involution Flow: March 15th & 16th

Saturday & Sunday, March 15th & 16th, 2014
O Yoga Studio
Saracuse, N.Y.
 

Involution Yoga
$35 per class with registration before March 10th
$40 per class
$85 discounted full workshop