Why Am I Here?

by Lauren PickhartBrain CancerMay 10, 2021View more posts from Lauren Pickhart

This post originally ran on Lauren’s website at https://thecanceryogi.com/2020/09/16/why-am-i-here/

Hello world, my name is Lauren. You may be thinking, “Another yoga blog. Why do we need another one of those?” Well, hopefully my angle is unique and offers something up to the yoga-blog-world that wasn’t there before.

A little bit of background: at the age of 14, my budding teenage life was shaken by a brain tumor diagnosis. After my diagnosis but before my impending surgery, I asked my mom, “So, will I be able to go on the youth group trip in a couple days?” I had no idea what was coming.

From age 14 – age 22, I experienced three brain surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. Through all of the surgeries and treatments, I never pressed pause on the other aspects of my life. My radiation days were such that I had a treatment in the morning at the hospital, took a nap at home, woke up in time to go to school for the second part of the day, and stayed after school to make up the work that I had missed in the first part of the day. I had my second surgery in July 2012 and started college a month later in August 2012. I started chemo in December 2012 in the middle of my freshman year, and continued my year and a half of therapy through my sophomore year. For my third surgery, I took off about two months from work and returned later like nothing had happened.

My focus was always forward. I was always go. go. go. And never stopped to think that there was any alternative to balancing everything at once. In hindsight, I think that taking time off from school may have been a wise decision. However, what I did was right for me in that moment, and I think it was the reason why I was always blindly optimistic. I didn’t have time to focus on the diagnosis.

Last year, my doctor said the words that I honestly never believed that I would hear. I was told that I was to be moved to a survivorship program. In my head, I thought, “Haven’t I been surviving cancer all along? Isn’t that what I’ve been doing?” Yet now, it had a label. I am a “survivor”.

I wasn’t anticipating that the word “survivor” would ever make me feel empty. But I was used to always having the structure of school, and the focus on getting healthy after a treatment, that the idea of it all falling to the side and pressing pause on that part of my life was crazy to me. This diagnosis has been such a big part of me and my family’s lives since I’ve been 14. You mean that I can focus on something else besides getting healthy?

While being diagnosed with cancer at a young age can make you mature emotionally overnight, there are some aspects of life that are slowed down or paused. This was the first time that I really had time to breathe and think about me and what I really wanted to do with my life, not focus on getting a degree or treatment.

This led me to yoga. I work from home and was looking to add structure to my day. I also was looking to regain the strength that I had lost during treatment. During college I went to yoga class twice a week for a semester, and had gone to other yoga classes off and on throughout the years. But, this is the first time that I am committing to bringing the practice out of the studio and into my home.

I am early in my yoga journey, but it already has had such a large impact on me. Stay tuned 🙂


All of the posts written for Elephants and Tea are contributed by patients, survivors, caregivers and loved ones dealing with cancer.  If you have a story or experience you would like to share with the cancer community we would love to hear from you!  Please submit your idea at https://www.elephantsandtea.com/contact/submissions/.

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