Iwona before - wearing cap

Iwona after head shave

Yoga with Iwona - impacted by breast cancer

In December 2022 I was diagnosed with stage 1 HR2– breast cancer (invasive duct cancer) just a little lump, the size of a tic-tac. It was palpable and found early. My body was apparently creating too much oestrogen.

It was early stages and contained. A successful lumpectomy was carried out March 2023. Oncotype tests reoccurence score 59%. Chemotherapy started for 20 weeks - epirubicin and cyclophosphamide (anthracyclines) for 8 weeks and then paclitaxel for 12 weeks.

This is my yogic journey...

Throughout my diagnosis I worked full time, taught yoga and had a daily Mysore practice up until the lumpectomy. It kept me focused, level headed and mentally stable.

Post operation (taking into account lymph nodes 1 and 2 were removed to see if the cancer had spread further - it hadn’t), I carried out the exercises suggested by King’s hospital and had full mobility in my arm within 3 days (observing there was no chording and slight restrictions). I was also driving within a couple of weeks (each person is different - check your car insurance).

Chemotherapy days 1 - 4; whilst taking medication I listened to my body and rested, riding the medicinal wave. I had cancer fatigue (napping like a cat), chemo fog and my body became ultra sensitive to the chemicals. I could feel it scouring different areas - it focuses on reproducing cells; cancer, hair, nails, bone, bone marrow, stomach etc...

After chemo session 2 I lost my hair, despite the cold cap. I decided to preempt the inevitable and shaved my head. I had heart burn, reflux, sensitive feet, heart palpitations and internal shakes. I then reclaimed my body by going back to Mysore practice (limited initially) and teaching which took me out of the chemo fog. To say that this process was harsh is mild. Each person reacts differently. Hair loss is not inevitable, but depends on the infusion of treatment drugs. I embraced each stage and rocked each look, as you can see in the before and after photos on the left!

I’m still teaching, practicing (but letting myself have days off!) and have returned to fashion work. I’m still undergoing chemotherapy, and will subsequently undergo radiotherapy. I’ll also be under surveillance for the next 5 years with endocrine treatment.

My journey has been remarkable from the moment I was diagnosed; through all the ultrasounds, biopsies, MRI’s, lumpectomy and consultations. I could not have expected better treatment from the incredible research team, consultants and chemo nurses at King’s hospital. I also had a focus - my niece Sara’s wedding. Find yourself a goal; a holiday, gardening, a small reward, retail therapy... and practice self love, you deserve it!

I was blessed by meeting my Ashtanga teacher @Corrieanandayoga and the amazing Mysore students @Mission.e1 all who kept me strong and motivated.

If you are impacted by breast cancer or need a loving hand please contact me.

We can ride this wave together.

Tel: 0797 9007008