Yoga Reaches Out

yoga reaches out harnesses the power of yoga around the world to make a difference in the lives of children as they go through the toughest tests of their young lives

When the lovely yogini Jacqui Bonwell posted in early February about the 10th annual Yoga Reaches Out, I immediately signed up. It wasn’t the draw of a full day of yoga, but rather the mission to support Boston Children’s Hospital, including their research and wellness program for patient families, that drew me in.

Why? Because I’m alive thanks to this world-class pediatric center.

In June 1991, I became very ill after months of persistent headaches. When my parents brought me to my pediatrician, it was his nurse that suggested a brain scan to rule out the possibility of a tumor because her son recently presented similar symptoms before his brain tumor diagnosis. Her gut instinct was correct because the CT-scan picked up a mass, which was confirmed by an MRI. It was a craniopharyngioma – a rare, benign tumor the size of a grapefruit resting against the pituitary stem at the base of my brain.

My parents rushed me to Boston Children’s where they were presented with an array of outcomes for their five-year-old daughter. Without a doubt, I needed brain surgery, but prognosis was unknown. However, I was in the exceptional hands of Dr. Michael Scott who successfully removed the tumor during an 11-hour operation. When he located my parents to inform them I was in recovery, my dad nearly crushed the man in a hug of gratitude.

Given the circumstances leading up to, during, and after surgery, my parents were quite understandably a wreck. At the time, I was more concerned about sudden baldness and the large scar stretching across my skull and what board games were at my disposal. The medical professionals and hospital staff went above and beyond to care for me and my parents. More than the trauma of it all, I remember playing Guess Who? with my aunt as the team prepped me for surgery, receiving a grape popsicle when I awoke from surgery, learning about the wonders of an ice cream sandwich (which is not ice cream on bread), watching the Sound of Music, and adorning a cardboard pint cup with seashells to hold my treasures (aka more seashells). Even my least favorite part – having lab work drawn – was made better by one particular phlebotomist who I took a liking to and gifted me a stuffed skunk from the gift shop because he knew I loved Pepe Le Pew from Looney Tunes.

After surgery and my initial recovery, my parents and I returned frequently to Boston Children’s for regular checkups and tests to ensure my health was stable and there was no reoccurrence of the tumor. Each visit was welcomed by the caring staff and medical professionals at the hospital. Each visit ended in a sigh of relief as my health remained stable, the tumor never returned, and I was considered one of the lucky ones. I lost a significant degree of peripheral vision, but easily adapted. I manage various hormones synthetically with medication, which affects my weight, but maintains my adrenal and thyroid functions. My balance took the longest to rebound and though I still list to the left sometimes, yoga has helped improve my stability. I will celebrate 30 years since my diagnosis and surgery in June 2021.

As I began fundraising for Yoga Reaches Out, Samudra Studio Yoga graciously allowed me to host a benefit class (pre-pandemic) helping me toward my goal of raising $1,000. While the 10th anniversary of Yoga Reaches Out looks different than planned, I am still excited to be part of this great event to benefit Boston Children’s.

If you’d like to contribute to Yoga Reaches Out, please follow this link to donate before October 25, 2020.

Yoga Reaches Out benefit class on March 11, 2020 at Samudra Studio in Biddeford, Maine.

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