Why I Reach & Raise: Melissa Hamilton
My name is Melissa Hamilton, and I am excited that this Sunday, I will be on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art for Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s Reach & Raise. This is going to be my fourth year participating in this event, my third year as an assistant yoga instructor – and my first year attending as the resource coordinator at LBBC!
I first heard about Reach & Raise (back when it was called Yoga on the Steps) from another yoga friend of mine who brought me a flyer on a visit to the studio where I was teaching. That year a member of my family had cancer, and I wanted to do something to recognize and support her. She had the BRCA gene mutation, and had ovarian cancer that eventually spread everywhere in her body. She has since passed, and in part it is her memory that keeps me coming back to Reach & Raise every year.
But the event has come to be about so much more, and there are so many more people who are part of the reason that I come back every year. This year I am on team Pinkalicious, which one of my work colleagues is captaining, but in the past I’ve had my own team, the Good Vibe Tribe. I am a yoga instructor, and my studios have always been big supporters of the event. In my early years I was with Collegeville Yoga Bar and Moyo as Team Captain, and my current studio, Samana in Pottstown, has a team with captain/owner Jennifer Fischer. I met one of my dear friends, Alicia, who is also a yoga instructor (in New York!), at the event, and now this is an opportunity for us to come together and spend the day with each other. The day just has such a wonderful sense of togetherness and community.
An important part of the day for me is also the people who are not there. In addition to my relative, I recently lost my best friend Amanda to cancer. When I am lying there on the steps with everyone and the sun is shining down on me, it is like their spirits are there with me. Every year during savasana I end up crying because it is such an emotional and overwhelming day – but in a positive way. Everyone should come and experience it for themselves.
I also think it’s really important to support LBBC. My husband is a cancer survivor, and we both believe it is important to support organizations that provide education and support. That is one of the reasons that I’m proud to now work at LBBC! Education is power, and the more knowledge we all have, the better it is!
I am looking forward to another morning on the steps, which will be beautiful no matter what the weather – and I hope to see you all there.