So, you have breast cancer.

Dear Friends, Students & Clients,

I have Breast Cancer…

On Tuesday, March 12th I went in for a routine mammography. Even though it’s not recommended to start getting annual mammograms until you reach 40, I’ve been getting them since May 2011, when I found a suspicious lump in my right breast. This particular exam was a follow-up to the last one, which was done 12 months earlier.  After having a mamo every 6 months (following the watch and wait protocol) it was decided that the mass was nothing to be worried about (you have cystic breasts with fibrous tissue I previously was told), so I was floored when it was suggested on the spot that we do a needle biopsy.

On Friday, March 15th, 2013, I went up to Mass General Hospital with my dear friend Megan. Things unfolded in both slow motion and fast forward from there on out. The pathology from my needle biopsy arrived just 9 minutes before we walked into the exam room, confirming my Cancer, and when I was told “So, you have breast cancer” for a hot dizzy moment, I thought it was the end of the world. Bone Scan

I was in shock. I was freaked out. I was scared sh*&less.

But 10 days later I feel very differently. As weird as it may sound, I am confident this is the beginning of a bright new chapter of my life. I’m no hero, and I’m not going to say something inauthentic like “I feel blessed” that I have Cancer, or “It’s a gift”, but I do feel like it’s an amazing opportunity for growth. As my teacher, Elena Brower, says, we choose our parents, we choose our life lessons, “We pick them perfectly”. So following this, somewhat Buddhist train of thought, I must embrace the fact that I have chosen Cancer too. This is the new reality for me, one I have chosen so that I may learn from it, so that I may teach from a place of deeper wisdom.

That’s the new plan. The total and compete acceptance of Cancer as my new Guru.

You will be hearing a lot from me, over the next 14 months. I plan to blog. I plan to write. To document. To teach. To inspire. To bring awareness to Breast Cancer in the under 40 population. To make sure my Strong Girls know that self-breast exams are mandatory. That we are our own best health advocates… that no matter who tells you your self-detected “likely benign” LUMP is not worth further investigation, should your intuition tell you otherwise it is. I plan to stay around for a long, long time. To love my family and friends, to nurture my partner and to parent my son.

Flight Like A GirlWhen I first found out I was sick, I preemptively took a leave of absence from teaching and massage therapy. But now that my treatment plan has changed quite a bit, I am hoping to teach as many of my regularly scheduled classes as possible. I am lucky that my chemotherapy treatment will not be scheduled on days I would normally be at the studio, and I will have several days after chemo during which I can recover without missing classes. So for those of you who would like to know as to whether or not I’ll be at The Yoga Room on any given Monday or Tuesday evening, or Sunday morning, please just consult TYR’s online schedule. I am forever grateful to my TYR colleagues for accommodating me and my last-minute needs.

Teaching has always given me strength. Walking away from it completely, would feel like a surrender, and I am very much a fighter.

Some logistical stuff:

Many people have asked me how they can best support us through these challenging circumstances. For those of you who would like to contribute financially my friends Jason Bridges and Emily Molden have set up the Caitlin Marcoux Charitable Fund at Rally.org. This is also where I will post medical updates from here on out, instead of on FaceBook, as it is a more appropriate platform.

And for those of you who would like to contribute domestically, my friend Kristen Lewis has set up a SignUp Genius campaign, where you can sign up to deliver a meal, volunteer to help with my son’s childcare (pick-ups or drop-offs to school, or playdates*) or help out around our home. *Please note: Griffin will really need some small friends to run around with on Thursdays and Fridays after school, even if it’s just for an hour. This is probably the best way anyone can help us.

I know that I can’t do this alone. And I am so very, very grateful to both my local community and my global yoga community for all the ongoing support. I can’t think of a better place than Nantucket to have Cancer, and I couldn’t be in a better place both spiritually and mentally to survive it.

I am a lucky, lucky girl.

A few special Thank-Yous to the following people who have helped me through this initial phase of my cancer treatment (many more thank-yous to come):Health Alter

Thank you to Shannah Green and Elisa Allen for facilitating an amazing and much needed retreat at Kripalu this weekend. To Alison Alpert for coming with me to my first needle biopsy. To Megan Soverino for being there now and always,  but especially for being there to hold my hand when I got the news at MGH on March 15th. To my parents Joanne and Steve, and my sisters Ariel and Grey. To my ex-husband Paul Budzynski, for being a rock at a time of need, for accepting me once again despite my mistakes and with all my faults, and for taking such good care of our son Griffin. To my friends Jason Bridges, Emily Molden and Kristen Lewis for setting up, in record time, all kinds of online support. To Amber Hinds, my web-designer. To Jenny Bence, owner of The Green, for making me drink way more wheatgrass than I ever would on my own. To Darya Afshari of Dayra’s Salon, for helping me feel pretty (sister, you will be shaving my head soon). To Elena Brower for being an ongoing source of wisdom and support and bad-ass coach. To my friends Kate Greer and Richmond Dickson for giving us a warm bed to sleep in and nurturing food to eat on Wednesday night, March 20th. To my beautiful yoginis in crime Caroline Pope Peavy and Juliet Loranger, for coming up on Thursday night, March 21st, to hold me after a long day of bone scans and blood tests. To Rebelle Society for giving me a place to write (the words are on their way). To my son Griffin, who inspires me to be the very best mama I can be. And of course to my partner, Burr Tupper, who is always, always, always there for me.