Moving and Meditation After Stage IV Diagnosis — A Q&A with Cheryl Solomen

Insight Articles
October 13, 2014
Josh Fernandez, Digital Media Specialist

Published in the Fall 2014 issue of LBBC's national newsletter, Insights on Metastaticinfo-icon Breast Cancer

Cheryl Solomen, 52, of Voorhees, New Jersey, felt overwhelmed after learning she had metastatic triple-negative breast cancerinfo-icon in October 2012. Cheryl was shocked she was diagnosed with stageinfo-icon IV disease since she led a very healthy lifestyle that included more than 30 years of exercise.

Determined not to let cancer keep her from moving, Cheryl adjusted her exercise routine to meet her needs throughout treatment. Maintaining physical activity helps Cheryl feel challenged while relieving stressinfo-icon and increasing energy.

Cheryl connected with Living Beyond Breast Cancer after joining a friend’s yogainfo-icon team for Yoga on the Steps: Philadelphia in 2013. This year, she started her own team and raised nearly $6,000 for the organization.

The proud yogi discussed her support system, exercise and complementary therapies like Reiki*, an Eastern practice of restoring your body’s life energy and bringing you inner peace through touch, and more.


In the Winter/Spring 2014 issue of Belong Magazine, you wrote that your friends and family were important to your journey. How did they support you after you were diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer?


My friends and family were just always there for me. I do not go to any breast cancer support groups or meetings. Though I would never rule support groups out, my friends, family and co-workers provided me much-needed relief. They kept me busy and were there for me when I needed to talk or needed motivation. This year, all of my good friends joined my team, “Fighting for Cheryl,” for Yoga on the Steps: Philadelphia. It was very moving.

I have been really inspired by my colleague, George Rubin, who I met shortly after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Even before I had breast cancer I admired how he stayed active and kept a positive attitude. He has been totally awesome to me while I went through treatment and as I deal with this diagnosisinfo-icon, and is an inspiration to me on a daily basis.


How do you maintain a balance between your health, work and other everyday responsibilities? Does exercise play a role?


Keeping active has really helped. It helps me de-stress. I work fulltime in between treatments and have a 7-day workout program. I do different types of exercise daily. I spin, I do Zumba and take a step class. At least two nights per week, I “gym hop.”

I also combine complementary therapies with medicineinfo-icon. I do everything from collect healing stones, use oils, receive Reiki, meditate, to get acupunctureinfo-icon once a month and so on. Reiki is such a wonderful practice — it’s a therapyinfo-icon offered by the hospital I go to, and I’ve established a relationship with a practitionerinfo-icon who does it. I got Reiki while I received chemotherapyinfo-icon and it helped me relax. My doctor recently declared that I have no evidence of disease.

I live each day to the fullest. I travel as much as possible. I just got back from a cruise to the Bahamas, and I’m planning a trip to Italy in October if my scans continue to come back negative. I find that the more things I do, the better I feel and the more hope I have. I’m dying to live, not living to die.


You practice yoga and participated in Yoga on the Steps for the past two years. How has yoga benefited you?


Yoga has helped me find inner pe ace and relaxation. Some yoga is more intense than others, so it is actually challenging and tiring. I fall asleep at night naturally. Practicing yoga and my experience with breast cancer led me to create the following mantras I live by: I will be free from pain and suffering; I will be in good health; I will be filled with gratitude; I will never give up hope; I will be c ancer-free. I say each of these mantras every day at the end of each day, and then I conclude by saying, “Namaste.”


What advice would you give to other women living with metastatic breast cancer about maintaining an everyday well-being?


Find a great support system. Keep living. Continue to live your life to the fullest and live it as normal as possible. I say my mantras every day and try not to dwell on what is going on—of course sometimes I lose my mind, but then I try to stay positive by reaching out to friends or planning a vacation. Find happiness in every day, whether it’s your own happiness or somebody else’s. I find that being happy for someone else helps me maintain a positive attitude. This diagnosis isn’t the end; there are so many wonderful new developments and stories, and I’ve met with so many inspiring women living with this diagnosis. It’s all been very enlightening to me.

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