When Cancer Dominates Your Life

For the second time over the last 16 years, I recently had the sensation as I was going about my daily life: “I feel like I have my life back.”

The first time was a few years after finishing active treatment for stage 3 breast cancer.  It had taken me several years to feel that I could return to what felt like normalcy, where I had choices on how to focus my attention and could trust in the future.

Again, things have shifted a lot for me personally and it feels like all of a sudden!

Many of you know that my husband of almost 30 years was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer 5 years ago.  After grueling treatments which included months in the hospital during the pandemic (for cancer reasons, not covid), he has reached a place of relative stability.

By stability, I mean we are still living between 3 month scans but he’s on a break from treatment for 9 months now. Gotta love these breaks from treatment where you start to feel your energy come back! And then he surprised me by going back to work after being retired for almost 2 years.

It happened after I had spent a month away over the summer.

My daughter Alima, who is 16 now, and I spent a month in Spain this summer visiting relatives. She attended a 10 day camp and I spent 7 blissful days by myself on the island off Menorca.  Read about how free I felt in Menorca: http://www.kellyinselmann.com/blog/what-makes-you-feel-free/

This fall, my daughter is in 10th grade at Westlake High School and works part time, while my husband was recruited back to his field and is enjoying himself.

And here I am asking myself a question I have asked before: “How do you connect with your identity after cancer has dominated your life for years?”

I feel a bit distracted as I turn back towards the work I love, with people who seek to make meaning of their lives, increase their vitality, and heal emotional wounds.

I’m grateful to the JoyBoots Inner Circle Group for keeping me devoted to our work together. They have continued meeting for 4 years through hell and high water, since initially meeting in yoga classes and my online course, Healing Well: Reconnect with Your Life after Cancer.

Together we have celebrated the life milestone of one member selling her house and building her dream cottage out in the country with her best friends. We have celebrated times of stability in treatment and good family news.

We have supported each other through recurrences and even through the heartbreaking passing of a beloved member, Jane.  In group, we ask each other: “What do you think Jane would say to that?” And the answer is always something irreverent, brutally honest, and empowering. Her spirit and wisdom live on in us.

In the past few months, I have grieved the losses of a dear friend and a of a dear client, both age 41, both irreplaceable and  leaving behind 2 children and heartbroken families.

I continue to grieve the losses of all these friends.

Sometimes people wonder how I work with people who are facing cancer. I admit, I have to pay attention to my own self care and make sure I’m exercising, and socializing and now…traveling!

But for me, it’s not a burden to meet with JoyBooters, it’s an honor and it’s often super fun.  Being with people who recognize the fragility of life, who love deeply and care so much for their loved ones, makes my life more vivid. I am reminded that time is shorter than we think, and each moment more beautiful.  For me, it’s an honor to have this deep level of connection.  It helps me make meaning of my own life.

Quite frankly, JoyBooters always end up inspiring me.

So, this fall, I have turned much more determinedly towards revamping my signature program which shares my 6 Steps for Emotional Recovery from the Trauma of Cancer. You can listen to this podcast interview I gave about my ideas. https://therapistuncensored.com/episodes/tu63-living-with-cancer-the-six-principles-of-emotional-healing-with-guest-kelly-inselmann/

In early 2024, the course will open for people who are newly diagnosed and for cancer survivors who have finished active treatment.  A version for people living with metastatic cancer and a caregiver version will come soon after.

As I work on the course, this question continues to guide me: “How do I connect to my identity after cancer has dominated my life?”  Does this resonate for you?



How DO You Heal Emotionally after the Trauma of Cancer? The 6 Principles

Over the years, I’ve received many messages from people who heard an interview I did with Dr. Ann Kelly (shared below) at Therapist Uncensored about how hard it is to heal after the trauma of having cancer.  And I explain the six keys to unlocking the healing process.

In September, 2023, new classes, therapy groups, and an online course will begin to help you learn and practice skills based on these principles.

Be sure you are on the JoyBoots community mailing list so you know when they open up!



Cancer sucks, no way around it. If you have it, had it or are supporting someone who does, this episode will be nourishment for you by bringing your mind and body into the healing and recovery process for cancer and trauma is so important.

Fighting cancer is often traumatic physically, emotionally and relationally. Podcast host Dr. Ann Kelley joins therapist and Yoga Instructor Kelly Inselmann (LCSW, C-IAYT,CGP) as she shares her personal journey through cancer recovery and describes her passion and process in supporting others to find hope and healing while in this compromised state.

They discuss how modifying the six principles of emotional recovery into the basic principles of yoga can have an immense impact on well-being and recovery.

Real Healing Requires Community

“The reality is things may never be exactly the same. Be honest with yourself about what you are feeling and find community who allow you to show up just as you are” from the Healing Well Course.

This Wednesday on June 21, 2023 we have the last JoyBoots Yoga class of the summer. It’s been such a pleasure to reconnect with so many old friends and to meet new ones as well.

I will be away June 26-July 24, 2023.  After the summer break, that’s when you can count on our weekly class continuing…

JoyBoots Yoga is unique in that we address, experientially through our practices, some of the more challenging aspects of living with cancer or after treatment.  These are:

  • feeling gripped by fear (of recurrence, physical pain, our own mortality)
  • negative circular thinking that can’t be easily stopped
  • tension and stress you hold in your body
  • anger you pretend not to have (that comes out inadvertently)
  • desire to understand yourself and your precious path forward so you can make meaning of life
  • chance to deeply breathe and strengthen your relaxation response
  • feel more grounded and emotionally balanced

Being able to show up just as you are to find a seat for you at the table helps heal loneliness and isolation.

It’s hard to heal emotionally when you feel alone.

I’m excited to bring a variety of JoyBoots programs forward beginning the end of August.

My online therapeutic course, Healing Well: Reconnect to your Life After Cancer starts in September 2023 and will be available to take at your own pace.

By request, we will also have some In Person Workshop and Meet Up Opportunities beginning in the fall as well.

Please join the JoyBoots Community (free) or email me at kellyinselmanntherapy@gmail.com for more information or for an individual session.

Stay Cool this Summer!

Can Yoga and Meditation help Chemobrain?

Did you know one of our favorite JoyBoots Yoga meditations, Kirtan Kriya, improves memory and cognition as well as decreases inflammation?  There’s research to show it! Click here to find out more and try it yourself.

Hundreds of people have learned to meditate in JoyBoots Yoga over the past 12 years.  This photo of my dear friend Joy, who helped me create my online course, Healing Well: Re-Connect with Your Life after Cancer, shows us practicing the meditation together.  Like many JoyBooters, she went on to practice it daily for months. 

But sometimes it’s hard to get motivated. Circumstances are always less than perfect, aren’t they? It can be easy to neglect healthy habits.

There have been times over the past 4 years since my husband’s diagnosis, my daughter’s entry to middle school, and oh yes – the pandemic that I’ve neglected my own practice.

But taking time both for relaxation, meditation, and feeling part of the larger group of healing humans lifts your mood, gives you energy so you can move forward with more joy.

That’s why JoyBoots Yoga Classes are back for the next 3 Wednesdays in June. June 7-21. Noon-1:15pm. ONLINE. $20 per class (or pay what you can).  More info on the class here.

Email kellyinselmanntherapy@gmail.com to put your name on my most recent list for the ZOOM LINK and Wednesday reminders about the class.

It’s easier to practice together!

Attitude of Gratitude

Carmen expresses gratitude and appreciation so readily, for her friends, for our Wednesday yoga class, for each day. She can be found taking the bus around town and sharing her spiritual depth and wisdom with others.

Share a little bit about yourself: I was born in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. I arrived in Austin, shortly before I turned 29. My hobbies are reading, writing, listening to music and taking walks in the park.

Share a little bit about your cancer experience. It was overwhelming! Until now I can’t explain how I could get ahead of such experience. I have no doubt that there is a Superior Force that watches over all of us! Cancer was a life teacher for me. My perspective of the things has changed for good, and also brought me many blessings. One of them, is that it has given me the opportunity to meet wonderful people who I otherwise would never have dreamed of knowing. From that time, I only remember the love I received!!

How has it benefited you to be part of the Joyboots community? A lot! The first yoga class in my whole life was the first class I had with Kelly, one week after I finished the medical treatments; and for me it was like an oasis after the storm.

What is your meditation practice like? I meditate in silence at least 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week. One day I do guided meditation for 25 minutes and on Sundays I do one hour of silence meditation.

How has yoga and meditation benefited you? To live in the Here & Now, focus on conscious breathing, calm anxiety & stress and above all, to understand that the health of my body depends on my emotional & spiritual balance.

What practices have benefited you the most? Yoga, meditation, Pilates, weights and walking. They complement one another.

What are you still struggling to cope with? My emotions!

What brings you moments of joy? Learning something new every day, watching the sunrise every morning, hearing my favorite song, meeting new people and counting my blessings.

What is something you’d like to share with the community to help them along their healing journey? Nobody is alone. We are all in this together.

WILD CARD: What is your favorite saying, quote or personal motto?


If you wish to connect with Carmen, you may connect with her through email at carmen_cm@live.com.





New Yoga and Talk Series Featuring Joybooters!

with Linda Griesel

The Yoga & Talk series features Joybooter stories and words of encouragement to nurture, heal and inspire— and in doing so, helps us to get to know one another, stay connected and to remind us that we are never alone in our healing journeys.

Share a little bit about yourself.
I am an Air Force brat who settled in Austin in 1988.  31 years! My husband and I share Austin with our daughter, son, and a semi-obedient Airedale Terrier named Beau.  I’ve worked as an attorney – mainly as an advocate for abused women and children.  I’ve also worked as a special-ed and substitute teacher, caterer, and volunteered throughout my children’s educations – as well as caretaking my parents.

Yoga and meditation are centering parts of my day.  I also belong to 2 book groups, binge-watch lots of Netflix, and like spending time with my friends doing all of these things.

Share a little bit about your cancer experience.
Before I was diagnosed, I learned about cancer from my mother who was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer in the bad-old-days of treatment, 1973.  I learned how to LIVE with cancer by watching her as a survivor for 35 years.

In July 2014, I was told I had II-B Invasive Breast Cancer. After treatment (slash/poison/burn), I was left with familiar side effects including Lymphedema, Chemo-Brain, and the inability to continue with the prescribed Aromatase Inhibitors.

How has it benefited you to be part of the Joyboots community?
The Joyboots Community are my TRIBE.  I didn’t know I was looking for (or needed) a support group the first time I tried out the Weekly Wellness Warrior Group (you know, Cancer Yoga).  When Kelly explained to a group of cancer survivors the concept of Sat Nam – that we could make room for our own true selves – I was hooked.  She built a group that accepts each other as we are right now.  In the five years since my diagnosis, the group’s kind and generous spirit and Kelly’s wise and graceful teachings have seen me through.

I saw my mother be a true leader and builder of her cancer support community.  She connected people together with acceptance of where they were in their experience.  Even without the benefit of yoga in 1970’s Wichita Falls, she helped a  huge number of survivors find the room for their true selves.  I’m fiercely proud of the Tribe she built and hope I can be a connector, too.

What is your meditation practice like?
Some days, I simply repeat Sat Nam on a repeating loop. Other days I use Kelly’s Joyboots website for a variety of great meditation ideas. Add self-guided meditation Apps, and of course, yoga practice.

How has yoga and meditation benefited you?
I learned how to breathe.  It allows me to realize that moments of joy and contentment can erupt and it has given me the tools to recognize and appreciate them.

What practices have benefitted you the most?
The Weekly Warrior Practice with my Tribe.  At the start of each class, Kelly has us listen for and identify 3 sounds. When I hear the breath of my Tribe, focused in our work, settling into practice – that to me is the most joyful sound.

What are you still struggling to cope with?
Like everyone, life! I think that’s what surviving means.  How are we going to live our lives faced with the uncertain and burdened by the past?  I feel that Kundalini has given me tools to use everyday to move forward.

What brings you moments of joy?
Being able to choose to live in the moment, being able to practice gratitude, and putting both those concepts into practice with my loved ones.  And a good glass of wine.

What is something you’d like to share with the community to help them along their healing journey?
I have a friend who said “we’ve all been broken at times and we will be again.  It helps us reach out to hold onto each other.”

To be a supportive member of my Tribe, it helps me to look for inspiration, not obligation, to find my true self and to find moments of joy.

Sat Nam.

If you wish to connect with Linda, you may send her an email at lbgriesel@sbcglobal.net.

Getting Real about the Impact of Cancer on Finances-a Texas Resource

When people get real about the impact of cancer on their bodies, relationships, careers, and energy, I hear amazing stories of suffering and resilience.  I am always inspired by the ingenious ways people survive and how they sometimes find support in surprising places.  It’s not unusual to hear that a good friend you counted on doesn’t show up for you while you are in treatment, but you are delighted by a new friend and caring connections coming from people you don’t know as well.

This week I’m sharing a guest blog post from my friend Julie Sullivan, a longtime Wednesday Wellness Warrior, who wants to get the word out about an important financial resource in Texas that some people don’t hear about.  Please share this information with others who could use it.

The Story of Self Employed Artisans 

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October of 2013. (Stage IIb, ER+, HER-2+) My treatment plan included a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and Herceptin therapy.

My husband and I are both self-employed artisans and our annual income is low, so I visited with the financial advisor at the large, well respected oncology center in my community to see about any financial aid resources. We were not eligible for assistance through this center because we have money in savings, own a home and have retirement savings. The financial counselor had me screened for Texas Medicaid benefits through a phone interview with a third party. I was declined due to retirement savings.

All of this was happening just before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would go into effect in January, 2104. Then an information bombshell hit: my center (and my oncologist) would be refusing to accept insurance plans through the ACA!* For many years we had been purchasing costly private health insurance with very high deductibles. The financial relief I anticipated through the ACA was now ripped away.

Devastated, I contacted the Breast Cancer Resource Center who put me in touch with Community Action, Inc. of Central Texas, an organization that is a Breast and Cervical Cancer Services contractor authorized to accept my application for Texas Medicaid for Breast and Cervical Cancer (MBCC).

I applied and was accepted. (Applicants must go through an authorized contractor; one cannot apply directly to MBCC.)

Unlike traditional Texas Medicaid, the MBCC program allows for recipients to have retirement savings and own a home yet still receive benefits. It is income based, not asset based.

MBCC has been a financial life saver for my household.

We spent nearly $20,000 out-of-pocket (deductible and co-pays) in just those last two and half months of 2013. I knew I faced treatments throughout 2014 (Herceptin until December 2014) and reconstruction surgery in 2015. With private health insurance and no relief from an ACA plan, these expenses would have forced us to either sell our house or bankrupt our retirement savings.

Instead, throughout 2014 and 2015 my treatments and surgeries were paid for through MBCC. It also paid for an unrelated emergency appendectomy in the midst of cancer treatment!

One final, and very important point is this: Your cancer treatment provider will not screen you for MBCC, they will only screen for traditional Medicaid. You must seek this benefit on your own. (This experience taught me that providers look for the best payment options, not all the payment options.)

I hope the information from my story might benefit you or someone you know.

Texas Medicaid for Breast and Cervical Cancer

There is a lot information online about MBCC. A recipient must be an uninsured Texas resident—and also a legal U.S. resident—between the ages of 18-64 and not eligible for traditional Medicaid.

Briefly, the income requirement per household is up to 200% of the federal poverty level. Household income means all income received by any persons living under the same roof. In my case it was just my husband and me. If an applicant has a working adult child living in the home, that income would be included in the household income.

For example, for a single person this is income of $1,980 per month or $23,760. For two people, annual income of $32,040, for three it is $40,320 and so on.

Applicants must provide necessary documentation—including proof of income—and complete some paperwork.

Helpful links:

Texas Benefits website

—Click on “Health Care”

—Under the Health care for women section, click on Medicaid for Breast and Cervical Cancer.”

MBCC financial eligibility requirements.

Breast Cancer Resource Center (Austin, Texas)

Community Action, Inc. of Central Texas

*My Oncology Center changed course in February, 2014, and began accepting ACA health insurance plans.

Permission Granted: Take the Time You Need to Heal

Jessica had barely finished treatment for a second bout with lung cancer when her medical leave was over and her supervisor was calling to see when she would return. Her team needed her and the supervisor was subtly probing to see if they could count on her or should look for a replacement. In truth, Jessica does not feel ready to return. She is fatigued, unable to sleep, and her memory feels unreliable. The thought of the high pressure environment with lots of deadlines and expectations feels overwhelming. She thinks she can negotiate another few months away, but feels “guilty” for not being ready to return. She tells herself to be grateful she has a job and worries others will think she’s a “complainer.”

Angelica has 2 children under 12. She’s 6 months post treatment for breast cancer. A lot of people helped her when she was “sick” but now that she’s “cured” her family and friends expect her to be fully recovered. They only want her to think “positive.” She feels pulled to volunteer for every school and church activity, to be emotionally present for her children at all times since they were fearful about losing her, and she wants to show her gratitude for life by saying yes to everything. But she’s exhausted. And she finds herself angry and resentful that no one understands she still has pain, side effects, and fatigue.

Dori is a single mom to her 17 year old son and works as a waitress. Her son wants to get a part time job to help with bills but Dori has ben reluctant to agree, fearing it will keep him from his studies. Dori ‘s cancer has spread and she worries about losing her health insurance because of pre-existing condition. She hasn’t let family of friends know how hard it is to make ends meet because she hates “bothering people” by asking for help.


Permission #1

Give yourself permission to take the time you need to heal.

Ask for what you need.

Don’t rush. You don’t have to immediately be back to full “productiveness.” Your body and your mind have been surviving a shock and trauma. Don’t underestimate the impact it’s had. Don’t over schedule or push yourself.

Try this Affirmation: 

I am gentle with myself. I am still healing. I am taking the time I need.

I Think It’s Brave


I Think It’s Brave


i think it’s brave

i think it’s brave that you get up in the morning even if your soul is weary and your bones ache for a rest

i think it’s brave that you keep on living
even if you don’t know how to anymore

i think it’s brave that you push away the waves rolling in every day
and you decide to fight

i know there are days when you feel like giving up but
i think it’s brave
that you never do

by Lana Rafaela