Your Story Matters

Each of us has a powerful story to tell! Something about what you’ve experienced could directly help other young adults facing cancer.

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Drag Bingo Brunch With Miss Redd

miss redd drag queen

Today, Lacuna Loft turns 6 years old as a nonprofit!!!  To celebrate, we’re hosting a Disney-themed, Drag Bingo Brunch featuring Miss Redd!

What do we mean by Drag Bingo Brunch?  A lovely drag queen, Miss Redd, will be hosting a bingo brunch with us!  We’ll have prizes, dance numbers, a costume contest, and attendees will be the very first to hear a HUGE announcement from us!

Is there a theme?  Yep!  Disney!

Do I need to dress in drag?  Nope!  Can you?  Sure!  We’ll have a costume contest though so dressing up according to our Disney theme is extremely encouraged. 😉

Who will be there?  Everyone!  Join with Lacuna Loft staff, board members, supporters, and community members!

How much does it cost?  This is a pay-as-you-can event!  While the suggested, minimum donation is $6 we totally understand that people have different financial capacities so you can join the drag bingo brunch, whether you pay $0, $6, or more!

Join us on Saturday, May 8th at 10 am PT / 12 pm CT / 1 pm ET for a 90-minute Drag Bingo Brunch.

Learn more and grab your tickets here!

Body Image, Social Support, and Physical Activity Among AYA Cancer Survivors

hands reaching

Lacuna Loft loves sharing about research studies.  Check out this one from the University of Toronto!

You are invited to participate in a research study that aims to better understand body image, social support, and physical activity behaviours among adolescent and young adult cancer survivors.

The study involves completing one 30-minute online questionnaire. Your participation in this study is voluntary.

Your participation in this study will assist the researchers in developing future programing to help adolescent and young adult cancer survivors to help manage quality of life issues and increase physical activity.

Participants will be entered into a draw to receive one of twenty $25 gift cards for your involvement in the study.

This study has been reviewed and received ethics approval through the University of Toronto Research Ethics Board (Reference #39245).

Thank you for your time and consideration. If you are interested in participating in this study please contact Madison Vani (madison.vani@mail.utoronto.ca, 416-854-9662) directly or complete the survey here.

Next Cohort Of The Survivorship Series For YAs Facing Metastatic Cancer

cactus

Welcome to the Survivorship Series!

We piloted this program about a month ago and it was so much fun.  The group grew together in community, we had a ton of fun with each of the sessions of the series, and the private facebook group was alive with activity!  With that experience in our pocket, we’re launching the next cohort of the Survivorship Series, this time specifically for those young adults facing metastatic cancer of any diagnosis.

Together, 25 young adults facing metastatic cancer will go through a 6-week, online program experience where you’ll hit the highlights of our workshops!  You’ll form a tight-knit community and every other week, you’ll take part in a different 2-hour program with the same group of young adults moving together through the series.

In week 1 you’ll join a Creative Art Workshop, in week 3 a Journaling Workshop, and in week 5 a Young Adult Cancer Hangout + Game Night.  In between workshops, you’ll have access to a private Facebook group for your cohort of 25 young adults where you can connect and communicate.  You may only take part in the series once, and when you sign up you are committing to taking part in all 6 weeks.

The next round of the Survivorship Series has been scheduled and starts on Tuesday, April 20! 

Week 1:  Tuesday, April 20 @ 4:30 pm PT / 6:30 pm CT / 7:30 pm ET – Creative Art Workshop (a very cool, cactus paper mosaic)
Week 3:  Tuesday, May 4 @ 4:30 pm PT / 6:30 pm CT / 7:30 pm ET – Journaling Workshop
Week 5:  Tuesday, May 18 @ 4:30 pm PT / 6:30 pm CT / 7:30 pm ET – Game Night

Grief to Gratitude

whispy sky with colors

By Tara Picklo, Lov Yoga

For just a moment pause and notice how you feel when you think of the word grief

Perhaps you notice your body tense up, shoulders round, breath stuck in your chest, tears well up or maybe you even sense anger, denial, or overwhelm. It may feel like waves are crashing over you in a turbulent sea during a storm and you can’t catch your breath or seem to stay afloat. This is all normal and hopefully, by reading this blog you may begin to realize that there is hope.

Grief is the “normal” human reaction to the loss of anything we are attached to in life. Attachment is evident when there is a deep emotional bond that results in a yearning or longing for what has been lost. Because we can feel attachment toward people, pets, things, jobs, lifestyles, identities, places we live, and more, we can feel grief through any major changes or transitions in life. Some of this grief has been experienced collectively as well through the pandemic shift of “normal” human culture. In the AYA community, there is also the unifying undercurrent of cancer. Additionally, each of us have an individual grief journey to explore. So if you are grieving a person who passed away or perhaps your own past identity as you try to understand a sense of self that may feel foreign, it’s all normal.

When my husband of 13 years passed away in 2016 from cancer, a big part of me did too. It felt like my outward appearance was just a shell and I was nearly empty inside. I now see this person as my past identity because I am not the same after such a loss and that’s okay. Through processing grief, I have begun to see the true nature that was inside of me all along. I just had to rediscover her and let her sing a new song.

My teacher, Antonio Sausys, normalizes grief by explaining different symptoms that can be experienced. Grievers tend to feel pain physically (tightness in chest, shallow breath, fatigue, inconsistent digestion); mentally (confusion, negative thinking, denial, lack of motivation); emotionally (shock, sadness, anger, resentment, fear, mood swings, depression, relief); behaviorally (crying, avoidance, clinging to past mementos); socially (withdraw, awkward labels, shifting of friend circles); and spiritually (mystery, confusion, clinging on, questions about God and death) just to name a few. It is also common for people to feel combinations of these symptoms and extremes within each realm. Transformation from feeling overwhelming effects of these symptoms is the ultimate goal because we can’t change the loss. We can however transform ourselves by learning how to feel balance while focusing on what we can control in life.

These symptoms of grief we feel are often most intense when we are resisting them, kind of like trying to swim upstream rather than flow down freely with the river current. It’s normal to feel for a bit and then start to think, “I don’t have time for this,” or “That’s enough feeling for a while,” as the busyness of life takes over again. If we continue to push it aside, the body keeps the score, the symptoms get stuck inside, and then come back to say hi when least expected in unexpected ways.

Because of the extreme ways that grief manifests it’s also normal to feel triggered randomly or simply overtook with emotion. These S.T.U.G.s (Sudden Temporary Upsurges of Grief – as labeled by my teacher) can really catch us off guard by random triggers such as an innocent comment from a friend or in a tv show, an anniversary, favorite food, familiar smells, etc. We begin to feel like we are on a rollercoaster that seems to pick up speed just when we think it’s coming to a halt, taking deep dips and then shooting back up the tracks through twists and turns. The crazy, confounding part of these STUGs are they are also NORMAL! However, feel rest assured that through time there will be fewer STUGs and they will be spaced further apart. Time does not heal by itself though, it’s what is done within that time that will help process the pain caused by loss.

So what to do? The only way out is through. What if you let your armor slightly crack or take your mask off? What would it feel like to allow some vulnerability? If this sounds scary, that’s okay. It’s also scary to let grief lurk beneath the surface, stewing, brewing, and eventually turning into something that takes over when we least expect. Vulnerability and feeling helps to process the pain and then move into a phase of reconstructing life in a meaningful way. Vulnerability is the rain that must fall in order to see the rainbow after the storm.

Through years of conscious grief processing and commitment to learning about yoga therapy, I have realized that emotions are cycles and we have to feel to heal. I resisted this theory for a while and even ended up with a broken ankle in Bali six months after my husband passed away because I couldn’t slow down to feel my emotions. Now my tears are a beautiful, devotional, spiritual song and a regular release of stress. We do actually release cortisol through our eyeballs with tears, so cry on friends, let them flow!

The beautiful part about grief is that it becomes a blessing, friend, and teacher when are willing to dive into awareness and begin to process the unavoidable pain. My teacher also says that we don’t get over our grief, we transform our relationship to it and through this grief comes self-knowledge. With awareness comes the ability to do something about it. Suffering then becomes optional because it’s possible to learn ways to establish a sense of balance and control in life once again. There are many ways to do this and I have found that yoga therapy was what worked for me. I needed to talk, breathe, meditate, move mindfully, reflect, journal, cry and learn how to reconnect with my body, mind, and soul. By doing so I learned so much and my grief turned into gratitude for all that it taught me. Yoga also teaches that everything changes and everything will eventually end so we learn to let go of attachment and therefore suffering. I realize now that I can never go back to how life was and I have learned to embrace that with gratitude for what is to come. Sometimes our greatest suffering can be the silver lining in the cloud that was hovering above.

It is said that Grievers need to be heard, not fixed and I believe this is true. Much of my work with clients involves talking through grief. There is a point, however, when the stories we tell ourselves can become cyclical and the mind space feels like it’s tangled in knots. The body can feel heavy from grief and becomes important to move through the emotions that are stuck inside. That’s where the gateway to yoga leads into a garden of growth and possibility. Yoga means union of body, breath, mind and spirit. Through practices of breathwork, meditation, asana/movement, and self-reflection/contemplation, yoga helps us connect to our true nature and rediscover what has been lost inside. Yoga Therapy is the path out of the darkness into the light. We enjoy happiness even though it’s fleeting, we love knowing it one day will end. LOVE is energy and energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed. With Love and Gratitude we can transform our grief.

Hi! I’m Tara with Lov Yoga. I am merely a humble vessel who has journeyed along a rocky road of grief and feel called to help others do the same. It is an honor to create and share a safe space with others where they can shed layers, become vulnerable and eventually open to the possibility that it is all within and grief is their greatest teacher in life. I am also a self-declared writer that has evolved by using writing as therapy to grow through what I’ve gone through. As a yoga teacher, I believe we find magic on our mats by learning to be mindful and breathe into shapes. This magic is the feeling of balance between body, breath, mind, and soul. I specialize in teaching yoga for cancer and grief support to individuals through private sessions and groups by way of yoga program development. I am grateful to have worked with the following organizations: Dear Jack Foundation, First Descents, Soul Ryeders, The Cancer Support Community, and Lacuna Loft. For more about my story and personal connection to cancer, please visit www.lov.yoga/about.

Grief to Gratitude: A Young Adult Cancer Yoga + Mindfulness Workshop

woman on yoga mat

This 6-week program will normalize grief and help you tune-in and connect to your body, mind, and soul through yoga, breathwork, meditation, and other contemplative practices.  We will join together as a community to discuss, process, and move through grief to find our inner GPS and sense of self.  Together we will focus on life as it is now in the present moment, after a cancer diagnosis, compared to the life once imagined.

This workshop will have a 15 young adult cancer patient, survivor, and caregiver capacity, and will meet for 2 hours starting on Monday, March 22nd starting at 4:30 pm PT / 6:30 pm CT / 7:30 pm ET!  This is a 6-week program and a commitment to each week is important for a safe space and cohesiveness of the course.

Who: 15 young adult cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers.

When: Mondays, 6 weeks, starting Monday, March 22nd @ 4:30-6:30 pm PT / 6:30-8:30 pm CT / 7:30-9:30 pm ET via video chat.* (*US time zones…please confirm what time this means for where you live).

How does it work? Lacuna Loft will send you an email about a week before the workshop with information on how to join the video chat. ***You’ll need the link that we’ll provide you, a headset with a microphone, and a webcam.***

New Opportunities to Meet Others Facing Metastatic Cancer

woman sitting on bed

Our program calendar is chock-full of great things to fill the rest of this crazy year and we’ve got three metastatic only programs left in 2020! In chronological order below, you can get all the details on when and how to sign up!  Spoiler alert:  We have a focus group, a one-night creative writing workshop, and an entire track of Gabfest specifically geared towards young adults facing metastatic cancer.

— Lacuna Loft is a proud partner of the Coleman Supportive Oncology Collaborative for Adolescents and Young Adults (CSOC AYA), a collaborative of clinicians and patient advocates who treat and support AYAs with cancer. This collaborative recognizes that information and support resources for those living with metastatic or advanced diseases are lacking. This year, together, we set a goal to create a resource for young adults like you. We need you to tell us what should be in it. Be heard now and in the future by sharing your experience, thoughts & ideas as a contributor to this effort.  Please join us for an online discussion with members of the collaborative and other young adults like you on Thursday, November 19, at 5 pm PT / 7 pm CT / 8 pm ET via Zoom. You can go here to register in advance for this meeting and family members, caregivers, and friends are welcome to join, as well as, young adults facing any type of metastatic cancer aged 15-39.

— Then, back by popular demand, Lacuna Loft is facilitating a one-night creative writing workshop for those young adults facing metastatic breast cancer on November 23rd! (This is the only opportunity of the three that is specific to a certain diagnosis).  We’ll be writing with prompts in a group setting, with only metastatic breast cancer participants, supported by Seattle Genetics.  No expert writing experience needed here. Just grab your pen(cil), some paper, and our moderator will help guide you through thoughtful prompts that are set in a judgment-free, no-pressure environment.

— Also make sure to register for YA Cancer Gabfest, where you can attend a metastatic specific track (a whole day of the agenda is just for you!) and hear from others who are in your shoes.  Starting with an interactive chat with Dr. Mark Lewis, a panel of ya metastatic survivors, and a chill hangout to get to know one another afterward. It’s all happening the week of December 7th, with the metastatic day on December 10th!

Each program will offer the ability to meet others facing metastatic cancer, so sign up today for one or all of these opportunities!  Everything is online so you can be home, cozy and comfy, and connect with others who understand what it’s like to face metastatic cancer as a young adult.

Questions about any of these free programs? Contact aerial@lacunaloft.org!

UFO Edition, YAC Hangout!

craft supplies on table

Come join a UFO-edition Young Adult Cancer (YAC) Hangout next week!  Join together online with other young adult cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers for an informal meet up via video chat.

What’s UFO you say?  Un-Finished Object!  Have a project you’ve been working on that’s been hanging out unfinished?  Tackle it while hanging out with a group of young adults facing cancer!  Want to just come and hang out?  That’s fine too!

Monday, November 9th from 5:30-7 pm PT / 7:30-9 pm CT / 8:30-10 pm ET!

Interested in joining? Sign up here!  (Just fill out the form and make sure to choose YAC Hangout under the ‘Programs you’re interested in’ section!) If you’ve already filled out this form and selected YAC Hangouts, we’ll automatically send you a zoom link!