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How Cancer Induces Suffering (Excerpt)

Excerpt from CANCER + YOGA by Lorien Neargarder, copywrite 2019:

The first time I was asked to teach yoga to people with cancer, I declined. At the time I associated cancer with the death of my grandmother. She was a larger-than-life figure in my family and was always ready to take on some injustice in the world on behalf of others. Her small stature seemed to loom over me, even after I grew taller than her. My mind’s image of her changed little from when I was a child to adulthood; there are some people in our lives who are like that. She was a fierce champion, someone to be feared (if you were on the wrong end of her), someone to be respected and someone who I could always count on.

The last time I saw her was when hospice moved a hospital bed in to her living room to give her comfort in her last days. All the fight gone from her, she looked small with pale, thin skin covering her frame like a sheet of parchment. When she died the following day I thought, “Cancer took the strongest person I know.” So when my friend asked if I would teach yoga to people with cancer, I didn’t think I had what it took to face those memories or the strength to fight what my grandmother couldn’t.

“Never back away from a fight,” was one of the many things my grandmother taught me, but watching her lose her fight with cancer made me wonder if her approach was best.

If fighting cancer meant suffering when you lost, could accepting cancer mean less suffering, no matter the outcome?

I warmed to this idea, agreed to teach the classes, and soon replaced that painful memory of her loss with memories of students who walked into my classes suffering and left smiling.

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