Meet Julie & Julie

Julie & Julie have a lot in common! Not only are their names the same, but they are both students at Harmony Yoga and both strong, amazing women who are cancer surviviors. In reflection of National Cancer Survivor Day (June 3rd) we've received permission to share their stories!

We would like you to meet Julie Miller, a local South Bay physician.

How many years have you been practicing yoga? 15 years

How many years have you been practicing at Harmony Yoga? 15 years

Cancer Diagnosis: Breast Cancer

Treatment/Plan/Prognosis, etc.:  I had a Stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma. I had a lumpectomy and axillary node dissection initially.  After the pathology was reviewed from that procedure, I ended up having bilateral mastectomies and 6 rounds of chemotherapy because of the Oncotype of the tumor.  (This is the genetic markers found on my specific tumor that indicated that it was a more aggressive neoplasm.)   I ended up having an infection in one breast after the mastectomy that required removal of the breast tissue expander and surgery 4 months later to put implants back in on both sides.  So, 4 surgeries, 6 rounds of chemotherapy and one year later- I was done and have an excellent prognosis.  It has been 9 years since the end of all my treatments.

How do you feel Yoga may have assisted you in your healing? Yoga was a cornerstone of my healing.  Najla came twice a week and we did family yoga at home.  Yoga helped keep up my physical strength and gave me the mental fortitude to face all these challenges.  I found it calming, re-juvenating, and was a place I could go to forget what I was feeling physically and emotionally.  It was even extra special that my family was with me during my practices.

Any additional information you would like to share about your life, journey, mindset, support from family/friends, other areas that assisted in your cancer treatment/healing/recovery: My family was so amazing and gave me the emotional support that I needed.  They understood what I needed.  They helped me keep it all in perspective and understand that I wanted my life, not my disease.  I was so touched with friends and even acquaintances that stepped up to show their love and support.  Even a note or email was enough to keep me tethered to the present.  Jeff gave me the best advice early on.  He told me to find one thing each day to look forward to (a walk with a friend, a lunch with someone, yoga practice, etc).  I think this was my first time really understanding what it means to be present and think about what I was doing today, and not worry about what 2 days or 2 months or 2 years would look like.  It was too scary to worry about where I would be in a year or how I would cope with 5 more rounds of chemotherapy.  I learned to try and enjoy each day for what it had to offer, large or small.

And now for Julie Anderson, 

"Hi, my name is Julie Anderson.  I am a single mother of four and a grandmother of three.  I recently retired from a 25 year career as a Police Officer.

About five years ago, I began feeling extremely fatigued, losing weight, and having trouble sleeping.  Initially I just attributed it to the stresses of life and career, but as things got worse, I eventually went to see a doctor.  It was at this time that she noticed a large lump in my throat that had surprisingly gone unnoticed by me.  I was immediately sent for a biopsy and ultrasound after which, I was told that I had thyroid cancer.

As a single mother and a Police Sergeant, I pretty much believed there wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle…but hearing those words…what a humbling experience!  After the initial shock wore off, my only mission was to do whatever it took to be well. I was scheduled for surgery and radiation treatment but knew that a whole change in lifestyle was in order. 

I have been practicing yoga on and off for over 20 years, but with so much on my plate, I never quite made it a priority. I knew this needed to change because yoga always made me feel so peaceful and strong, and that was just what I needed.  In addition to changing my diet, regular acupuncture, and generally slowing down, I decided to make yoga a priority.

I tried several different practices but ultimately ended up at Harmony.  The energy here instantly drew me in.  The teachers, the staff, the studio, all felt so welcoming.  As I was recovering, I began to come more regularly.  The teachers not only taught me the practice but also helped me to learn to be patient, kind to myself, and allow my body to heal and in its own time, something had really struggled with at the time. Two of the greatest gifts yoga has given me are patience and self love!

As time allowed, my practice became more regular and eventually I wanted to take that next step.  I signed up for teacher training in 2017.  Being led so much deeper into the practice by Najla, Susan, and Katie was such a wonderful experience.  All of these women have such a well of experience to share, as well as such beautiful energy.  My practice is now a very necessary part of my life.

With my recent retirement, and time on my hands, I have been able to share the knowledge I received with others.  I volunteer teach twice a month at a local women’s shelter as well as an occasional class at Harmony to help enhance and grow my teaching skills.  Both are so rewarding to me.  Its hard for me to imagine myself now in my former life in law enforcement. Life is so different now.

As for my experience…sometimes it takes a little darkness to bring you back to the light!

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