Create the Reality You Want

faceshot with sunlightWritten by Wade Brill
Wade Brill Coaching

Chemotherapy and radiation pump enough poisonous chemicals through your veins. You don’t need anything else in your life that drains your system.

When diagnosed with cancer, it is a scary time where a lot of sh*t is going on inside your body that you cannot see or control. However, what you do have control of are your thoughts. As Albert Einstein said: “Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality.” Our thoughts, our surroundings, our food and the people around us are all energy. If we want our reality to be a certain way, then we must learn to consciously create our thoughts, consume food and surround ourselves with people and environments that support the reality we want.

It took me a couple of years to learn and fully digest this lesson. During my six months of chemotherapy, it felt impossible to feel ‘happy’ or believe I was in charge of my reality. I had just lost my mother to leukemia, and I felt lifeless inside. Life was unjust and unfair. What I ended up learning is that I couldn’t feel sorry for myself. I couldn’t let my sad or negative thoughts spiral me into depression. Instead, I needed to discover ways I could heal myself and foster my energy from the inside out in order to create a brighter reality I deserved and wanted.

I heightened my level of awareness and tried to view my world with a brighter lens. I paid attention to what types of food I was eating—making sure I was consuming organic protein and vegetables that would support my immune system. I recognized what type of people or friends I wanted to spend time with. I cut out friends that were toxic or draining because during this fragile period in my life, I didn’t have energy to waste. I also discovered what activities made me feel good. Whether it was taking a spin class, going to the movies or traveling when I could, I scheduled events that awoke my soul. Most importantly, I paid attention to what thoughts or words I generated. I made sure to engage and thank my bus drivers, to smile at strangers and to let my heart center shine. When I filled my mind and body with positive thoughts, I was able to share that energy with the world around me. This fostered a more supportive and healing environment, which is what my mind and body needed. #ownhappy photo

To create positive energy in your life, spend some time answering the questions below. Notice what arises in you—what shifts occur in your mind and body. Learn to take back control of your life and let the positive vibes ripple out and form a blanket of abundance. Create the world you want and glow from the inside out.

Ask yourself: “What do I want to feel?” Open yourself to the present moment; journal and explore your true, desired feelings. Get crystal clear on what those feelings look, smell and sound like. Make those desired emotions come alive. When you start to pay attention to the desired feeling instead of the circumstance, you are able to live life from your heart center and less from your head. Focus in and ask: What’s good in my life? What makes me smile? How do I want to feel when I wake up in the morning? What friends or family members support my spirit? What food helps fuel me?

Once you get crystal clear on those desired sensations, consciously live each moment with those intentions guiding you. Take back control of your life and focus on positive emotions that will help to contribute to the positive energy that will flow into your world and into your body. Remember, “everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality.”

Walking Your Way To Mount Adams

800px-Mount_Adams_US99One of the best parts of living in Seattle is the array of outdoor activities. There is incredible walking and hiking trails, Lake Washington for boating, kayaking, etc., and within driving distance great skiing and snowboarding. Now that the summer is upon us, here at Team Survivor Northwest, our outdoor programs are in full swing. At TSNW we offer fitness classes at no cost to all female cancer survivors. Our hiking groups are two of our more popular spring and summer programs. Both of these programs offer the opportunity to get out and enjoy the short lived sunshine of summertime in Seattle and afford the chance to get back out there and get moving!

Our urban hiking group is a great group for women that are looking to jumpstart their fitness routine or for women who are looking to build up to a more rigorous fitness program. Our urban hiking group is a wonderful group of survivors who meet weekly in various areas of Seattle to simply walk. A great element of this group is that everyone goes at their own pace. There are always those in a group that are going to be the leaders of the pack, and those who are comfortable just going at their own pace. For many women who are still in treatment or just coming out of treatment, being the leader of the pack is simply not an option. This walking group is compiled of a variety of women at all fitness levels, which takes the intimidation factor out of joining. adams

For women coming out of treatment, joining a gym or other organized fitness groups can be too daunting. In my conversations with survivors many have described joining a gym after treatment as too “impersonal” or just plain “scary.” On top of being exhausted, cancer also can also take a toll on a women’s self-image. The beauty of TSNW is that our programs are not only compiled of survivors but they are designed for survivors. They are also made up of all women, which is comforting for those survivors who may be struggling with their image after treatment. The urban hiking group is not just a fitness group, it is a group of women with a shared history and determination to just keep moving!

To the more avid fitness person, walking may not seem like enough. However, there are so many studies out there that solidify the long lasting effects of just walking 30 minutes a day. Taken from, below are just a few reasons why we all should get out there and get walking!

1. It’s great for the heart
In a recent study conducted at Duke University Medical Center, researchers found that walking briskly for 30 minutes every day lowers your odds of developing metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors linked to higher risks of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Roughly 24 million women in the United States have metabolic syndrome. Don’t have time for a daily half-hour walk? Try multitasking: A British study found that active commuting (incorporating walking and cycling into your sedentary commute) is associated with an 11 percent reduction in heart-disease risk, especially among women.

2. It cuts breast-cancer risks
Walking, even for a few hours a week, significantly reduces breast-cancer risk, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The thinking is that walking helps reduce levels of body fat, a source of estrogen. The research looked at 74,000 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79. Those at a normal weight lowered their risk by 30 percent; those who were overweight, by 10 to 20 percent. Younger women may also gain similar benefits.

3. It helps you sleep
A brisk walk in the afternoon will help you get a better night’s sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Experts say that walking may boost levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin, which relaxes you. Or, the rise in body temperature brought on by walking may signal the brain to lower your temperature later, which promotes sleep. (Avoid a walk two hours before bed –that’s too late to cool down.)

4. It makes you happy
Walking can relieve depression, anxiety, and stress. Just one 30-minute walk may make you feel better when you’re down, University of Texas researchers found. Head out for 90 minutes five times a week and you’ll get the biggest boost, according to a new study from Temple University. One possible explanation: Walking helps the body produce endorphins, the mood-boosting chemicals linked to “runner’s high.”

5. It protects your bones
Just 30 minutes of walking three times a week does wonders to prevent and treat thinning bones. This kind of exercise, which uses 95 percent of your muscles, actually pushes your bones to get stronger so they can handle the load. “Walking,” Look says, “is not just for cardio.”

These five reasons alone show the many health benefits that can be achieved by simply putting one foot in front of the other. Our urban hiking group is for our beginners, but those wanting more of a challenge we have our midweek or trail hiking group. Midweek Hikes run every Wednesday from April through September with hikes in the Issaquah Alps, I-90 corridor and Snoqualmie Pass area, North Cascades and Mt. Rainier National Park. Midweek hikes are trail hikes in the mountains, which mean you will see some beautiful scenery. It also means that they are more challenging than walking in the city. These hikes are progressive; we start with easier hikes and work up to longer distances and more elevation gain as we get further into the season. If you are thinking of hiking with us, it’s best to start in spring so that you can work up to the more challenging hikes that happen later on in the year.

three-women-walkingA group of TSNW members have a very challenging and exciting hike ahead of them….Mount Adams. Every two years a group of Team Survivor Northwest members climb Mount Adams to raise awareness and funds for the organization. To accomplish this amazing goal, TSNW provides a training program that includes practice hikes, cross-training, and guidance on what equipment that each climber will need. This year the TSNW group will conquer this goal the weekend of July 28th through July 31st. If this seems like an impossible task, just remember that all of our TSNW members started out walking and worked their way up to this incredible goal! This amazing group of ladies is an inspiration and proves that anything is possible when we set our mind to it. Through becoming a member of Team Survivor Northwest you too can start walking your way to Mount Adams one step at a time!

Blog written by Adrienne Coleman, Outreach Coordinator for Team Survivor Northwest

Not ready to conquer Mount Adams with your own two feet this year? Participate in another way through donating to our cause. It is the goal of each climber to raise at least $2000 for Team Survivor Northwest. The funds raised go to provide for guide service and for other programs that Team Survivor Northwest offers without charge to its members. TSNW is always trying to reach more survivors in the community and these donations help us to continue to do so at no cost to our members. To donate please visit

Want more information on our urban hiking group, our trail hiking group, or any of our other programs? Visit our website or email our program manager at

2014 Dragon Boat Festival

close racingWith the summer season comes a lot of great outdoor events around the Seattle area. From a fitness standpoint the summer season is a great time to get outdoors and soak in the sun while meeting your fitness goals. Here at Team Survivor Northwest we have a number of fantastic summer programs to get you outside and get you moving! One of our most popular programs is our Dragon Boat program. The capstone event for our dragon boaters is the dragon boat festival, which will be held on July 19th from 9:00am-5:00pm at South Lake Union Park in Seattle, WA. This is a great community event that promotes diversity, and pays tribute to an event whose origin stems from ancient China. Dragon boat racing’s roots are based in ceremonial tradition. The dragons, according to Chinese culture, are the rulers of the rivers, lakes and seas, dominating the clouds, mists and rains from heaven (Seattle Dragon boat website). The rich cultural history behind this event is felt by spectators as the spectacularly decorated dragon boats zoom through the water, with the drum pounding, making everyone’s adrenaline run high. It is an incredibly exciting and exhilarating event to be a part of as a participant and a spectator.

Dragon boating is one of Team Survivor’s most popular programs, and this program has a group of incredibly passionate paddlers! Many of our members have been avid dragon boaters for many years and are incredibly passionate about the sport. Jean Vye, a member and board member of Team Survivor Northwest as well as an avid dragon boater was kind enough to share her experience of the dragon boat festival:

This July 19th, on the south shore of Lake Union, teams from the Northwest and Canada will race for the finish line in the Seattle Dragon Boat Festival, continuing a Chinese tradition started over 2,000 year ago. The beat of the drum pounds out a rhythm as twenty paddles in each boat hit the water in unison, propelling a long boat with a carved dragon head and tail as spectators line the shore rooting for their favorite team.

Of particular interest to many of us are the boats full of cancer survivors who are gaining and maintaining strength through this ancient sport and challenging themselves to become strong and healthy. Team Survivor Northwest and The Club SAKE Dragon Boat Club sponsor the local Survivor SAKE team of 50 women cancer survivors and similar teams come from Oregon, Washington and British Columbia to compete. Teammates gather before the race to do warm up exercises and then grab a paddle and life jacket and head down to the boats for the fast and exhilarating dash with hundreds of spectators of all ages cheering them on. To prepare for the races, Survivor SAKE Dragon Boat Team practices twice a week from March to September. During practices, the Coach helps each participant to develop proper paddling techniques and to modify or adapt the activity to what they are able to comfortably achieve. Over time, the women gain in stamina and strength, not only in their upper body but also in their core and legs. In addition to these benefits, they laugh, have fun and develop a connection with fellow paddlers.

Another great part about the Dragon Boat Festival is that the proceeds go to Team Survivor Northwest. At Team Survivor Northwest we offer all free fitness classes to all female cancer survivors. We offer a variety of programs at no cost to our members. In order to keep our doors open and our programs running, we rely on donations, as well as proceeds from events such as the Dragon Boat Festival to be able offer all of these amazing programs at no cost to our members. The support from the community also allows us to reach more and more survivors in the Seattle area and beyond, which is one of the main goals of Team Survivor Northwest So, this July come out to this exhilarating, family fun event and support the dragon boaters!

Blog written by Adrienne Coleman, Outreach Coordinator for Team Survivor Northwest.

Share Your Feedback: Help Us Improve Our Survivor Newsletter

76353612_22Survive and Thrive is a quarterly newsletter for cancer survivors and people interested in the Survivorship Program at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. The newsletter features stories about the latest research, profiles about former patients and staff, and a frequently asked questions column.

Do you like stories about fellow survivors? Want more tips on screenings and healthy habits to help prevent cancer? Do you need information on coping with after effects of cancer treatment?

Please tell us what you want to read by taking our 3 question online survey. Your feedback is greatly appreciated!


Written by Christine Loria
Paul and Christine’s Journey
3 Year Anniversary Reflection

July 22, 2010 is a date that I’ll always remember. It was exactly 3 months before my wedding and the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was 32, newly engaged, enjoying my job, living in New York City and preparing for my future. A few days prior I had just taken the GMAT because I was in the middle of applying for the Executive MBA program at Columbia and NYU. But after the diagnosis, everything I was planning for, changed.

I still remember getting dressed that morning. I happened to pick out a pink shirt, ironically appropriate, I thought to myself, if I were to get the news I dreaded. Trying to think positive, I went about my day like nothing was wrong. But when I didn’t get a call from my doctor that morning, I worried it was a bad sign. The call came around 3pm and the words I had hoped to never hear came out of my doctor’s mouth. I was sad. I was angry. I was shocked. And I was scared.

My doctor proceeded to explain what I needed to do now that I was diagnosed. I jotted some notes down as the tears started to stream down my face. I didn’t even understand what she was saying. I felt this lump back in 2009 and asked her about it, but she didn’t think much of it then. But before my annual visit in April 2010, I felt the lump again and made a point to ask her about it. Her response was “you’re just lumpy.” She said that if I was still worried about it, to come back in a few months. So, three months later, I went back for a visit. I had to remind her that she told me to return if I was still worried about the lump in my breast. After feeling around again, she agreed to send me for an ultrasound. I understand that doctors are not perfect but after this experience, I believe that you really are your best advocate. I’m glad that I was persistent and scheduled another appointment. I knew my body best and I knew that the lump I felt, did not feel right. I could have been wrong too but that would have been fine – better safe than sorry!

There were so many things that needed to be done after the diagnosis – more tests, discussions about my options and ultimately decisions about how to move forward. Since my wedding was in three months, there was a lot to think about. My surgical oncologist agreed to attempt a lumpectomy to preserve my right breast but told me that if it didn’t work, I would most likely need to get a mastectomy. I understood the risks but wanted to give it a try. The lumpectomy didn’t get all the cancer and I knew I would eventually have to get the mastectomy. After the lumpectomy, my medical oncologist recommended chemotherapy but I didn’t want to be bald at my wedding. My fiancé (now husband), Paul was very sweet and said he would shave all his hair off too in solidarity. But that’s not how I envisioned my wedding day – the both of us with shaved heads…it’s just not what I wanted.

We also had to discuss our fertility options. I had read that chemotherapy could affect my reproductive system so I decided to see a fertility specialist to find out my options. Not knowing how my fertility would be affected and not knowing how we would feel about having children, we opted to freeze embryos so that we would have options when the time came to discuss having children. This was a lot to handle two weeks from diagnosis, especially when you consider the amount of hormones I was injecting myself with to prepare for the extraction of my eggs; we were lucky enough to get 13 which resulted in 9 embryos.

The decision about chemotherapy came next. We decided to delay it until after the wedding (which was about 6 weeks later than my doctor wanted) because I really wanted to have my hair for my wedding! I’m glad that’s the choice I made but knowing that the chemo was waiting for me when we returned from our honeymoon was bittersweet. The wedding was such a joyous event but I would often feel the cancer cloud looming over me. The wedding and honeymoon were amazing and I knew, and know, how lucky I was to have found a man like Paul to stand by my side through this whole experience. He was and continues to be my rock.

Paul encouraged me to shave all my hair off before starting chemo so that I didn’t have to experience the loss of my hair in larger chunks, especially since my hair was really long! So, a day after returning from our honeymoon, Paul shaved it off.

hair pic 1
hari pic 2

Chemotherapy was tough but I continued to work while getting treatment, something I found to be very helpful. It gave me a reason to get up everyday instead of moping around. I eventually lost even the little bit of hair I had but it was less dramatic than I think it would have been. I won’t lie – I still cried.

The worst part of chemo was getting hives – my body was reacting badly to one of the drugs so we had to change my regiment, which meant adding a couple more sessions. By mid-February 2011, I finished chemo and started to prepare for my bilateral mastectomy scheduled for March 2011. The surgery and recovery were extremely tough but the human body does an amazing job of healing. I started taking Tamoxifen and Lupron in April, a couple weeks after my surgery. Despite reading about the side effects of both drugs, I wasn’t prepared for the depression that started. I thought that after everything I had already been through, the fact that I was alive and surviving, I wouldn’t and shouldn’t be depressed. I was grateful to be alive, to be surrounded by the love and support of my husband, family, friends, and colleagues. I didn’t think I had the right to be sad because there are so many more people that were going through the same thing, if not worse than me, and getting through it. I felt unappreciative. But I returned to work in August 2011 and tried to get back into the swing of things. But, for the next 6 months I battled depression. I thought it was just my reaction to everything that had happened in the last year but it turned out, it was the Lupron. My doctor recommended I see a social worker, and then the social worker recommended a support group. But those options just weren’t right for me and I continued to struggle with my emotions. By November 2011, my doctor recommended I stop getting my Lupron shots. Within a few months, I started to feel better.

travelI feel lucky every day that the cancer I had was treatable and that I had health insurance. I often think back to the day of diagnosis and remember the moments leading up to it. I tried for a long time to try and “get back” that feeling (I sometimes still think about this). But I realized that instead of trying to hold onto how I felt before, I should embrace life and create new moments. This experience changed my perspective on life and it changed Paul’s. So in 2012, when the opportunity presented itself, Paul and I left New York City to pursue a life long dream of traveling the world. The first 2 years of marriage flew by while we were bogged down with everything cancer. I wanted to take some time to reconnect with Paul and in a sense, get reacquainted. We were lucky to have had the opportunity to because I think it helped strengthen our marriage. We both changed through this experience and we needed to get to know each other again. After traveling to 27 countries and spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 13 months, I’d say we’re reacquainted.

Moving Beyond Cancer to Wellness 2014

MBCTW Invite 2014

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Survivorship Program and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance invite you to attend Moving Beyond Cancer to Wellness, an educational event for cancer survivors, cancer patients, caregivers, friends, family and health care professionals. It is designed to provide education on a variety of late and long-term effects faced by cancer survivors after treatment is completed.

This event is free to attend. For more information, please visit our event website.

Keynote Speaker | Hans Rueffert
Hans is a professional chef from Georgia who, in 2005 was diagnosed with stage 3 stomach cancer; he underwent treatment and multiple surgeries that eventually led to the removal of his entire stomach and 95% of his esophagus. Along with the title of cancer survivor, Hans also spends his time as a chef, restaurateur, author, educator, motivational speaker and mentor. Read more about Hans Reuffert.

Educational Sessions
Sessions will be led by experts in the fields below. You will have a choice of 3 sessions to attend.
• Nutrition
• Intimacy
• Fatigue
• Stress Management
• Exercise
• Cognitive Function
• Lymphedema
• Family Impact
• Emotional Adaptation
• Communication and Relationships
• Complementary Medicine
• Vitamins and Supplements
• Bone Health

8:30 am Registration and Light Continental Breakfast
9:00 am Keynote Speaker | Hans Rueffert
10:00 am Breakout Sessions
1:00 pm Lunch with Networking
1:45 pm Late Effects from Cancer Treatment | Karen Syrjala, PhD
2:15 pm Patient Panel
3:00 pm Event Concludes

Email |
Phone | (206) 667-5262
Website | Moving Beyond Cancer to Wellness


Event Sponsors
MBCTW Sponsors 2014

Copyright (C) 2014 Seattle Cancer Care Alliance | All rights reserved.
825 Eastlake Avenue East | Seattle, WA 98109

Best friends fade….hair falls out….but you will always be YOU

Written by Wade Brill
Wade Brill Coaching

I never fully understood how important and attached I was to my hair—until I lost it. My hair was my best friend. It was always with me, kept me warm and safe, and most of all, we shared great memories. Whether it was extraordinary vacations, delicious dinners, dance parties or just fun day-to-day activities, my hair was by my side.

When it was time to start chemotherapy, I somehow thought my best friend would never leave. I felt our love could prevent this poison from destroying our friendship. I told her that I would not shave her off if she promised to not fall out. In my mind, we created the perfect pact, and I somehow felt more confident starting chemo because I knew we could rely on one another. I took especially good care of her. I even washed her less frequently so that her roots would hold on tight and not feel the harsh water pressure beat down on her fragile self.

After the second round of chemo, I felt betrayed. I was in the shower, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a huge, dark clump of her lying peacefully on the shower tiles. My eyes widened with disbelief as I held her in my wet, shriveled hand. The sense of betrayal was nauseating—I felt as if a knife dug into my heart. The sad thing is, deep down I knew I could not blame her. I knew this was coming but somehow felt our love for one another could overcome the effects of chemo.wadecancer scarf

Our relationship started to spiral downhill. Tensions were high, and we did not know how to relate to one another anymore. She was falling out more and more as I entered the halfway mark of my chemotherapy. I became self-conscious and embarrassed of her. She could not control it, I know, but she started shedding everywhere—on my pillow, on my clothes. I would even walk into clumps of her camouflaged on the floor. She crept and clung to my skin, creating the sensation of bugs crawling on me. I grew more anxious as her obnoxious ways interfered with my social life. She was yelling for attention by falling out in chunks when I moved my hair to the side, when I ran my fingers through her or even more embarrassing: if she got caught on a button or zipper.

I hit my breaking point. My other half, my best friend, a piece of me that created a part of my identity had disappeared, and I felt I disappeared with her. I felt as though people could not know the real me without her. The question: “Who am I?”, swirled in my head. How was I supposed to hold onto my mental and physical self while the chemo was destroying me?

This inability to control what was happening challenged my ego to a point of no return. Staring into a mirror, I no longer saw the confident, sexy, sophisticated, funny girl I knew and loved. Instead, I saw a sad, yellow-skinned, balding girl who looked lost and lonely. In order to keep going, I dug deep inside of myself and discovered a thread of confidence and the strength to keep going even though I did not have my partner in crime.

About 3/4 the way through my chemo, many friends and family friends offered advice: “Why don’t you just shave your head and embrace it?” That word SHAVE brought chills to my spine. SHAVE? If I shaved my head then I truly would be bald, and that meant looking like a ‘real’ cancer patient. At this point, my hair really did look pathetic. I would not have been able to admit it then, but looking in our scrapbook made me realize how sad we looked together. Holding onto this pathetic excuse of a ponytail was, in my mind, my way of holding onto my femininity, sexuality and control. It was my way of not allowing myself to feel or really look sick. The fear of looking and being sick haunted me and swung over my head like a dark, gloomy cloud.

picking olives hairI managed to make it through chemotherapy without shaving her. I let her grow back naturally and gave her shape-up trims where I could. However, our relationship was different this time around. I realized I did not rely on her to give me a sense of identity and confidence anymore. Hitting a point in my life where I felt lost, mangled and confused allowed me to do some intense soul searching. I no longer felt the need to hang on to external values. Instead, I was able to tap in on a deeper level and find my new best friend—my inner self.

Completing chemotherapy taught me much more than I ever could have imagined. I realized that, in the end, all we truly can control are our own thoughts, emotions and actions. Losing my hair was something I couldn’t control. Having yellowish skin due to chemo was something I couldn’t control. I could allow myself to spiral into a depression and hold onto anger and a sense of betrayal or I could consciously choose to feel and think something different. Instead of letting the external world influence my identity and confidence, I turned inwards for strength. I connected to my inner self, soul and the values that I consciously live by. I knew I was lucky to be breathing, so I simply chose to be grateful and find the beauty and light in every situation. Allowing myself to focus on the positive in life granted me a sense of freedom and space to explore my identity.

When you feel like life is out of control, tap in and find your inner best friend. Your beautiful energy can always shine no matter what tribulations surround you. Discover your values and live them each day so you can connect to your true essence, which will never fall out or fade away.

Walk with Friends

three-women-walkingSunday, April 27, 2014
Team Survivor Northwest 4th Annual “Walk with Friends 5K” at Marymoor Park (Redmond) on Sunday, April 27, 2014! If you would like to volunteer for the event, send an email to You can register for this event through our website at

Each year Team Survivor Northwest hosts their annual Walk with Friends event. This is a great way to kick off spring one step at a time. The spring and summer is a great time to get out there and get moving! It always amazes me how much people underestimate the simple act of walking. There is a misconception that people have to do rigorous activities such as running to get in shape. However, walking is a wonderful way to get back out there and start breaking a sweat! Walk with Friends is a great event for this because it is a great way to not only start off spring on a healthy note, but also to meet other people in the community and to as the name suggests, make new friends and reacquaint with old ones. TSNW’s annual Walk with Friends will be held on April 27th, 2014 at Marymoor Park in Redmond, WA. Registration is now open and is available through the Team Survivor Northwest website at

This event is also a great opportunity to support a great cause! Team Survivor Northwest is a non-profit organization that offers fitness classes at no cost to all female cancer survivors. We offer a variety of fitness programs designed to meet the needs of women at any stage of their cancer journey. Our goal is to help these women take an active role in their ongoing physical and emotional healing. It is also our goal to help them find a sense of camaraderie. I work in the oncology field, and find that the hardest time for many of my patients is surprisingly when they finish treatment. They are not seeing their care team as much and I think there is a sense of fear and anxiety around the question of what next? Team Survivor hopes to help survivors through that stage of what’s next through fitness but also through introducing them to many other survivors that can relate and help them through this process.

Joan Tierney, a survivor and member of Team Survivor Northwest, was kind enough to share her journey. For Joan walking helped her through one of the most difficult times in her life, and becoming a member of Team Survivor Northwest helped her to share that journey with so many others. We are grateful to Joan for sharing her inspiring road to recovery:

“Growing up in New England, walking was always a fun activity shared with my sisters and parents, regardless of the weather. I appreciated the sound of crunching leaves in the fall, the sights of the glistening snow and frost on winter days, the smells of lilacs, hyacinths, and fresh cut grass in spring, and best of all the feeling of sand, sun, and saltwater of the beaches we walked on for hours.
Now, as I walk through the seasons, it is part of my journey to health and wellness, a journey that I share with the women of Team Survivor NW, as they encourage and celebrate my personal goal of walking in one 5K event each month.

My cancer diagnosis and treatment was uneventful, but it left me with severe lymphedema in my legs and pelvis. Undaunted by this potentially debilitating condition, I pursued manual lymph drainage, swimming, yoga and healthy steps classes through Cancer Lifeline , where I met Mary Carney and Elaine Eigeman. Mary invited me to participate in the March 2012 Walk with Friends Event at Marymoor Park. My legs gave way just before the turn around, we were soaked from the pouring rain, but the enthusiasm of the walkers and runners was contagious and I wanted to learn more about Team Survivor NW, so when Mary encouraged me to attend the 2013 retreat, I jumped at the opportunity. women walking 2

It was at the retreat where I met Brenda Frost who spoke about the walk/run training group and her recent completion of the Tinkerbell Half Marathon. It was at this moment that I realized that I, too, could utilize the training group, set a goal and find the Tinkerbell inside of me. I had successfully completed the 2012 Iron Girl 5 K with a 21 minute pace and had the shin splints to prove it. Now it was time to learn from a coach and train for endurance and proper technique. I left the retreat with a personal goal of walking in three summer 5K events and the means to achieve it.

When I signed up for the Run/Walk group, I was delighted to learn that the coach was Kristina Englund who had been my fitness Core trainer in my pre-cancer days. I had come full circle and was back working with a trusted coach. I started out slowly and built myself up to complete the 2013 May Walk with Friends, the June Shore Run, benefitting Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the July See Jane Run Event with my daughter. I completed the entire Walk with Friends Course and met my fundraising goal; I increased my time to 1:12 and enjoyed the views of Lake Washington as my husband, David and I completed the 35th Annual Shore Run, and my daughter and I loved our “I Ran for Chocolate” medals earned during See Jane Run.

During the Shore Run, I met two young survivors who challenged me to walk a 5K each month. August found David and I walking in the Columbia Winery Walk for Children’s Hospital, and upon completion, I immediately searched for my next event. I walked in the Women of Wonder Event, a very special 5K for me. For as I rounded the last lap of the event, I saw Mary Carney’s amazing smile, as she said, “I already finished, but I came for you, so we could walk over the finish line together.” October marked the Husky Dawg Dash. David and I enjoyed the fall foliage and the Husky Marching Band playing “So Glad you Made It” as we approached the Drumheller Fountain. We also walked the 2.5 mile Pumpkin Push for Neighborhood Health Clinics during October and the two mile Breast Cancer Walk.

My November event was the Seattle Marathon Santa v Super Heroes 5K where David and I were joined by our son, Noah and daughter, Michele. Walking from the Seattle Center to Benaroya Hall, we really enjoyed the architecture and beauty of Downtown. Upon completion, we watched the Children’s Hospital patients walk their last mile needed to complete their 26 mile walking goal. There was not a dry eye as we cheered them on.

December found Michele and I walking up the hills of Kirkland in the 12Ks of Christmas, benefitting foster children, and on January 1, we were joined my friend Nicole and her dogs on the Dry Run of the Resolution Run and Polar Bear event. It was fitting to walk with David and Michele in the Love em or Leave em Valentines Dash for my February walk. I have registered for the March St. Pat’s Day Dash.

It is fitting, that I complete my 12 for 12 goal at the April Walk with Friends 5K. I hope to see everyone there as we all celebrate our commitment to health and wellness.

As I completed each walk, I was not only stronger and healthier, but I was feeling part of a great community of walkers, runners, joggers, and strollers gathering not only for ourselves but for the causes that are near and dear to us.

Thank you Team Survivor NW, Coach Kit, family, and friends supporting me on this journey. April will find me training for a 10K See Jane Run and maybe, with Chi Walking techniques learned at the 2014 Retreat, I can complete the Tinkerbell Half with Brenda Frost. See you on the circuit.”

First we would like to thank Joan for sharing her wonderful story. I think it is always motivating to hear other people’s journeys and see that even when things seem impossible they are possible. At Team Survivor Northwest we try to help our members persevere through those difficult times, by having people like Joan by their side. It is our goal to help build the sense of community that Joan speaks of among our members. So, come join the Team Survivor Northwest community and come walk with friends on April 27th!

Blog written by Adrienne Coleman, Outreach Coordinator for Team Survivor Northwest. Special thanks to Joan Tierney for her participation in this blog.

Fertility After Cancer – On My Own Terms

Andrea head shotWritten by: Andrea MacPherson

I am surrounded by super-powered fertile women. My boyfriend’s sisters have pushed out three beautiful babies in the past two years. A high school friend planned her third baby so easily that she knew her due date six months before they had even conceived. And while I’m thrilled for all of these women and I love all of these babies, there is always that initial sting when I realize how easy it is for them, and how cancer has made my baby-making potential a bit more blurry.

When I was twenty years old I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Over the course of one weekend, my priorities went from midterms, college parties and gaining independence to basic survival instincts. My cancer diagnosis began with a scary drug reaction to the pneumonia vaccine, and left me zero time to think about even how I was to prepare for chemotherapy the next week, let alone my options for fertility preservation. “Just stay alive and figure the rest out later,” I told myself, and ultimately left the decisions in the hands of my doctor. I trusted this man very much, but in hindsight I do wish I had asked more questions about fertility preservation, and possibly taken more steps to protect my reproductive system from my cancer treatment.

I won’t know how fertile I am until I try. I do know that my chemotherapy cocktail could make it harder to get pregnant, but also increases my risk of miscarriage significantly. I have many cancer friends who have finished treatment and gone on to live happy, kid-filled lives, but I also know women who have never gotten their period again, or became menopausal the second they stopped taking birth control pills. Until I am ready to test the waters, I won’t know which category I fit into. So until then I tell myself not to think about it too hard. Instead I hug my pregnant friends and be the best auntie I can be.

It can be lonely when your biological clock is ticking twice as fast as the peers around you. When nurses are saying not to wait and doctors want to refer you to fertility specialists, panic can set in easily. However, stepping away from those pressures to procreate can also be refreshing. I will admit it is a daily battle. But forcing myself to not worry about my fertile ambiguity has been one of the best things I’ve done for myself post-cancer. It’s taught me to open up my life to other possibilities that I didn’t consider to be part of my path before. I know now that for me, waiting a bit longer to talk about babies is okay, because in all honesty I’m just not ready yet. And in the meantime, I am actually enjoying life without kids. I am traveling the world. I am working hard to grow a career. I can focus on building a relationship with my boyfriend that is a strong foundation for whatever ups and downs life may throw at us, kids or no kids. And in doing that, I’ve learned that babies don’t necessarily make a family – that love makes a family. So no matter what lies ahead for me and my family, I can slow down and live my life on my own terms, in my own time, and that is a pretty awesome place to be.

About Andrea MacPherson
After undergoing treatment for Non Hodgkins Lymphoma at age 20 without anyone remotely close in age around, Andrea MacPherson made it her goal to help young adult cancer survivors connect and strive through their own treatment. She has fundraised and volunteered for several cancer organizations including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, First Descents, and Puget Sound Blood Center. Andrea served on an advisory board for Seattle Children’s, helping design their new Adolescent & Young Adult Oncology Unit. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Thrive Through Cancer ( and will be 8 years cancer-free this April.

Spring Ahead, Don’t Fall Behind

March blog pictureWritten By: Adrienne Coleman
Outreach Coordinator, Team Survivor Northwest

As I stare out the window into what seems like an endless stream of rain, it is hard to believe that the first day of spring is right around the corner. Yes, believe it! March 9th officially marks the time for Americans across the country to Spring ahead! Each year as this day approaches I can’t help but feel excited! To me the first day of spring marks the approach of longer days with more light, the prospect of sunshine, and from a fitness standpoint, it marks the beginning of the spring and summer fitness season and activities. At Team Survivor Northwest we have a lot of exciting spring and summer classes and activities for current and prospective members!

The winter months can seem to drag on in Seattle, and it is common during these months that many of us do not follow through with our fitness goals. It is easy to fall behind, and as so often happens once we feel like we have fallen off track, it is easier to just give up entirely. However, it is our goal to help bring you out of the winter lull and help you get that spring back in your step. It is time to stop talking about the things you want to do and just do it! We have a number of programs, designed for a variety of interests and fitness levels. Once you find a program that interests you, it is incredibly easy to become a member! Team Survivor offers all their programs at no cost to women at any stage in their cancer journey.

Step 1: Visit our website where you will find our 2014 membership forms.

Step 2: Complete the membership form and either fax or mail the membership form to Team Survivor Northwest

Step 3: Have your oncologist or if you have been out of treatment for a number of years your PCP sign the medical release form and return this to TSNW via mail or fax.

Step 4: Receive your membership card in the mail and start attending fabulous programs at no cost to you!

Dragon Boating:
If you are looking for a team activity that allows you to get away from it all without leaving the city, get a tremendous workout, and enjoy the camaraderie of a great group of women, come out and see what dragon boating is all about and why it continues to be the fastest growing water sport worldwide.

History of Dragon Boating
In 1999, Club SAKE paddler Hong Ho wanted to expand the Seattle team’s mission and memorialize her mother who had died of cancer. She called Team Survivor Northwest to offer Club SAKE’s assistance in starting a dragon boat team of women cancer survivors. About ten enthusiastic survivors and volunteers showed up that August. Today, the program has over sixty women survivors on the active roster!

Dragon Boating Season
Our main season runs from the first week in April through September. A small, but growing number of us are paddling year round. During the main season, we practice two times per week at the Leschi Marina on Lake Washington Blvd in Seattle.

Dragon Boat paddling is a great activity that gets you outside and keeps you in the company of some wonderful people! New paddlers are always welcome.

Mark your calendar! Our 2014 Orientation Meeting will be Saturday March 8 at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance from 9-noon! Also please join us for the Seattle Dragon boat festival, which will be held on July 19th from 9:00am-5:00pm at South Lake Union Park in Seattle. Team Survivor Northwest is the designated non-profit of the Seattle Dragon Boat festival.

For more information or to be put on the Dragon Boat interest list, contact our Program Manager in the TSNW office at or (206)732-8350.

iStock_000013893723SmallWalk Run Program:
The walk run program at Team Survivor Northwest focuses on helping to train participants for marathons within the Seattle area. It is a step-by-step program that can get even a beginner marathoner ready for the big day! Interested? Please join us on April 5th for our Walk/Run spring session kickoff! Location to be decided. Please visit our website for more details or email our program manager at or (206)732-8350.

Want to participate in a low key community walk to get you back out there? Then please join us at our Team Survivor Northwest 4th Annual “Walk with Friends 5K” at Marymoor Park (Redmond) on Sunday, April 27, 2014! If you would like to volunteer for the event, send an email to Registration opens on March 7!

Urban Hiking:
Fridays at 9:00am.
If you are new or returning to hiking, this program will get you started and on your way to better health. There is nothing like being part of a group to help motivate you! Explore the parks and neighborhoods of the greater Seattle area, the East side and Mercer Island. We meet at various locations, hike for 3-4 miles and try to get our heart rates up. Plan on up to 2 hours.
For more information or to be added to the Urban Hike interest list, please contact our Program Manager in the TSNW office, 206.732.8350 or

thCAFM10DLMidweek Hikes:
Midweek hikes happen on Wednesdays and this season we have already had some great hikes including a wet but fun trip to Twin Falls and a few gorgeous days at Mount Rainier.

Midweek hikes are trail hikes in the mountains, which mean you will see some beautiful scenery. It also means that they are more challenging than walking in the city. These hikes are progressive; we start with easier hikes and work up to longer distances and more elevation gain as we get further into the season.

Our Program Manager can help you figure out the right level of challenge for you right now and how to get you from here to there.

Remember, there is always a reason to not do something, now Team Survivor Northwest has given you a reason to get out there and get active this spring and summer! Sometimes when it comes to fitness we are all our own worst enemy. However, take advantage of all of the great programs here at Team Survivor Northwest, and let us help you spring ahead and leave winter behind!