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Alexandra’s Survivor Story: How Bar Method Became the Light at the End of the Tunnel
In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are so privileged to share this inspirational story from an incredibly strong breast cancer survivor and Bar Method instructor, Alexandra. In her words, Alexandra tells her breast cancer story and how The Bar Method became a loving and strong support system for her every step of the way.
“October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month but it’s also the beginning of my very own breast cancer journey. It was one year ago in 2021 that I thought, “Hey I’m 42, I should probably get a mammogram,” so off I went for what I thought would be your regular routine check-up I could check off the list. Well, after that ‘routine mammogram,’ I got a call. They told me, “You need to come in for a second diagnostic mammogram since we see some calcification in your left breast.” It didn’t come as a surprise to me since my mom had always been called back for a second screening as well. I figured I’m young, I have dense breast tissue, I’m fit, and I’m a Bar Method Instructor, so I should be just fine.
But after that second smash, I was not fine. I heard the words nobody ever wants to hear, “There’s a small mass.” I couldn’t help but think, I have a mass? Vibrant, ‘I do Bar Method three times a week,’ healthy me? I sat in utter silence as she told me I would need an MRI as soon as possible. I knew no time could be wasted so I agreed to come back in that day and get it over with. I turned the car around and tried to stay afloat and breathing while I was face down in the loud, giant, whirring tube with my boobs hanging down alongside my spirit.
Two days later in a breast surgeon’s office I was told to decide between a mastectomy and a lumpectomy since the mass seemed to be fairly small. I couldn’t even consider losing a breast that quickly, so a week after the diagnosis I decided to go in for the lumpectomy. Easy enough, a minor breast cancer hiccup in my life. I was busy and I had loads of things to do. Once the lumpectomy was done, I was told I would probably need a bit of radiation and I’d be good to go. Well, unfortunately, pathology came back and said that wasn’t the case.
There were two types of cancer instead of just the one lump: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma and Invasive Lobular Carcinoma. In addition, I was hormone receptor positive, HER2 positive, and BTW – BRCA2 genetic mutation positive. What in the actual hell? What language is this? It felt completely unbelievable and sounded like surreal gibberish. The translation? You’ll need chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, a double mastectomy, and you should consider removing your ovaries. Again, what in the actual hell?
I can go into more detail about what the dark journey entailed for the next six months, but instead I’ll tell you where the light was: The Bar Method. Through the first part of my chemo, I continued to teach. Not only did it give me strength, but also a sense of much-needed normalcy. It meant that for just a moment, I could stop worrying about my breasts trying to kill me and instead focus on ensuring my students were in a safe foldover position. I truly felt the love of my Salt Lake studio community who supported me every step of the way. After, I came back ready to tone up after two new implants from an unplanned double mastectomy changed not just my silhouette, but my life. But hey, the perk? New sports bras.
The journey is still not over. In just two days I will have my oophorectomy, which is breast cancer gibberish for laparoscopic ovarian removal. I still continue to get immunotherapy through the port in my chest right above my perky, new implants every three weeks. I’ve also got five years of hormone blocking pills to pop. But I also have countless Bar Method classes to instruct to help me find fulfillment, strength, and perseverance. In fact, I could use an elongated stretch sequence about now!”