Confessions of a Non-Yogini: Celebrating 15 Years of Reach & Raise
Long-time Living Beyond Breast Cancer supporter and Reach and Raise Team Captain Dorel Shanon writes about what the annual event means to her.
The very first year of Yoga on the Steps it poured in Philadelphia - the only time in 15 years the event had to be rescheduled. It had been a long year for me: three surgeries, several months of chemo, and radiation still ahead. I hadn’t taken a yoga class in many, many years and wasn’t sure I would be able to move my body in any way resembling event co-founder and instructor Jennifer Schelter's poses. What do I remember most about that first gathering? The deep sense of peace, connection, well-being and hope I left with that day.
I’ve been to every Reach and Raise since then (except once, when I was forced to stay home with a fever). Some years it’s the only yoga class I take; others it’s one of many. For the past 8 of those 15 years, I’m there as co-captain of Team Dreams with my daughter, Ari. She launched Team Dreams as part of her Bat Mitzvah project, to give back to an organization that was my lifeline during my year of treatment and beyond. We’re joined by about 15 to 30 friends and family members each year and most years, Ari, who’s now in college, still comes to support me and the team, as do her friends who are in town. Each year I am beyond grateful to experience one more morning of yoga on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, surrounded by friends, family and – now- thousands of strangers who are part of my community of those touched by breast cancer.
Enough time has gone by that I don’t know answers to questions like: How long did it take your hair to grow back? Or, Did you have a hard time with radiation? But I never forget the amazing community of people who stood by and supported me through that long year, friends who cooked and drove my children everywhere, my husband who had faith even when I didn’t, doctors who – with compassion and caring – guided me through this parallel universe of cancer, strangers who shared scars and stories of their own treatment experiences...and the staff and volunteers at LBBC, who made sure I never felt alone on my journey.
I also never forget the feeling of joy, connection, gratitude and peace I experience every single year on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum as Jennifer and countless other yoga instructors guide us through a loving and hope-filled morning. A friend who came to Reach and Raise for the first time told me that she knew she was contributing to a cause she believed in by coming but hadn’t realized how much she’d be getting herself. She called the morning “a gift to herself,” something that has stuck with me ever since.
Being at Reach and Raise is a moment to pause and experience the gratitude I feel for LBBC, for this amazing community, for my incredible team of health care providers, for my family and friends, and most of all, for the life I’ve been able to live so fully and deeply this past 15 years. I cherish that moment and look forward to many more years of joining others on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum for this inspiring and life-affirming morning.