I like to think of myself as a particularly bright inspiration for cancer survivors as I am a performer of Middle Eastern style dance – or better known as a belly dancer. How about that – a breast cancer survivor belly dancer!
My name is Erica, I’m 51 years old and found a lump in my right breast in April 1999. My sons were young and my family was in shock, were frightened and felt helpless to do anything other than be supportive. After a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation, I recovered.
Over three years ago I experienced an accident after passing out from a new medication and had to have three plates repair the broken bones in my face. Two years ago I had to have 12 months of Interferon treatment. I am quite happy to say I have been cancer free for over 10 years.
I can’t say cancer changed my life overnight, but what it did do was make me aware of the food my family ate, our exercise, our environment. I started buying and cooking organic, hormone free fresh foods, meat, dairy and poultry. I made sure we recycled and used chemical free household products and I realized most importantly, life is short! Live in the day, stop whining, get out and do something good for yourself and others!
If you have ever seen or experienced something amazing when you were younger that you’ve never forgotten you will understand when I tell you that as a teenager I fell in love with belly dancing the first time I saw a troupe perform. What those women did with their bodies was so beautiful and mesmerizing, no matter the age or size of the dancer. Through their music and dance, these women touched my soul as a young girl. Now, as an adult and all my medical issues, I truly needed to feel good about myself, my body and my face. Since my children were now grown, there was time for me to study belly dance! I have embraced the beauty of the feminine and celebrate all women who put it out there!
I work full-time at my regular job and dance almost every evening, either in practice, teaching or performing. Dance has taught me to love myself, except myself, love my sisters and best of all, to share the joy. I would love for all women to accept and love themselves.
Life is short – dance!
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