Limitless Possibility

As humans, we all face physical limitations related to being mortal and facing our own mortality is a realization that brings all kinds of feelings – fear, grief, anger, denial, acceptance. But just as we must face certain limitations related to our human existence, there is also the potential for limitless possibility.

Dr. Atul Gawande, physician and author of Being Mortal, addresses the question:

How do we move through the world and keep taking action once we are so aware of our limitations, vulnerabilities and imperfections?

We’re all so incredibly limited and yet there are ways that we string together and are almost unlimited as groups of people. It’s magic when that happens- when you all start pulling together and then you eradicate polio from the world, which we’re almost on the verge of doing.

I love this wisdom from Dr. Atul Gawande where he describes how connection and community create a synergistic effect that gives us the feeling of growth and possibility, where creativity and new ideas emerge, and where we keep each other motivated and accountable to our missions in life. This is when the seemingly impossible can happen. As humans, we are all indeed imperfect, limited and uncertain of the future. When we lack connection we feel alone and more limited, but among a healthy community, we can help each other grow, expand, and heal.

If you’re not already a member of the Joy Boots for Cancer Survivors Facebook group, I hope you’ll join us right now. And if you know someone who could benefit from the healing powers of community, I hope you’ll share this post and ask them to subscribe.

Challenging Times call for MORE Support

COVID-19 is affecting everyone and no one is immune. But for those of us who have undergone cancer treatment, are currently under the care of cancer specialists or are caring for someone with cancer, there are even more precautions to take to protect ourselves and those we care for. In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, I’ve compiled cancer-specific information you should know so you can reduce your exposure risk, stay healthy and be prepared in these uncertain times.

What do cancer patients need to know about the coronavirus?
According to Miriam Falco, Managing Director at the American Cancer Society, the COVID-19 outbreak is still new, and there’s not a lot of specific information on how it impacts cancer patients. But doctors do have a lot of information regarding the risk of infections in general for cancer patients and they agree the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus, which is especially important for cancer patients because they are  at higher risk for serious illness. Patients who are in active chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant patients are at an even higher risk because their immune systems are suppressed or eliminated by treatment. [READ MORE] The peer-reviewed medical journal, The Lancet, published a study in mid-February which concluded both current and former cancer patients are at greater risk from COVID-19. The study looked at 2,007 cases of hospitalized COVID-19 patients from 575 hospitals in China. Out of that group, they found 18 patients with a history of cancer they could track — some currently in treatment, some years out. Nearly half of those patients had a higher risk of “severe events” (defined as admission to the ICU, the need for ventilation or death). “We found that patients with cancer might have a higher risk of COVID-19 than individuals without cancer,” the study authors wrote. “Additionally, we showed that patients with cancer had poorer outcomes from COVID-19, providing a timely reminder to physicians that more intensive attention should be paid to patients with cancer, in case of rapid deterioration.” [READ MORE]

How can you protect yourself from getting COVID-19?
Keep these points in mind and make protecting your health a priority. Liz Highleyman, Science Editor for Cancer Health shares common-sense precautions to take.

  • Avoid close contact—meaning within about six feet—with people who have a cough or other respiratory symptoms.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly and often for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Healthy people do not need to routinely wear face masks to prevent infection, but use a mask if you are caring for someone who is ill.
  • Get the flu vaccine. Older people should also consider getting vaccinated against pneumonia.
  • If you think you may have been exposed to the coronavirus, contact a health care provider promptly if you develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing.
  • Before you go to a clinic or hospital, call ahead so the staff can take appropriate precautions.


What extra precautions should you take?
As shared by Cancer Care, there are several everyday measures you should take to protect yourself that the general population may not be as proactive about.

  • Try to obtain extra necessary medications in case your community experiences an outbreak of COVID-19 and you need to stay home for a prolonged period of time. Consider using mail-order medications, if possible.
  • Be stocked with over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies, such as tissues and medication good for fighting upper respiratory ailments. Stock enough household products and groceries to reduce the need to leave your home.
  • Work remotely from home, if possible, or make other plans for work.
  • If you can, use the help of others to fetch or deliver anything you might need, including food and medical supplies. This reduces your exposure to others as much as possible. Even when using this help, ask for them to disinfect themselves and then clean any deliveries you might receive. Caregivers should use the same precautions in public that those with a cancer diagnosis do.

How long after chemo has ended, does a patient’s immune system return to that of a non-cancer patient?
Cancer and cancer treatments can weaken the immune system. The immune system is a complex system the body uses to resists infection by germs, such as bacteria or viruses. When the immune system is weakened, there is a higher risk for infection. Because of this, infection is a common complication of cancer and cancer treatment and certain types can be life-threatening if not found and treated early. If you’re getting treatment for cancer, your cancer care team will talk to you about any increased risk for infection you may have, and what can be done to help prevent infection. Usually the risk is temporary because the immune system recovers after a period of time, but each person is different. For cancer patients who finished treatment a few years ago or longer, their immune systems have most likely recovered. But this depends a lot on the type of cancer you had, the type of treatment you received, and other medical problems you might have that can affect your immune system. [READ MORE] Dr. Gary Lyman, an oncologist and health policy expert at The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, states that those who have finished cancer treatment should also be mindful of their increased risk. “The risk extends beyond the period of active treatment,” said Dr. Lyman. The after-effects of treatment don’t end when people finish their last course of therapy or leave the hospital after surgery. The after-effects of cancer and the immunosuppressive effects of treatment can be long-term.” [READ MORE]

How does COVID affect oncology and patient treatment?
Call your health care provider and follow their guidance on whether or not you should continue with your current cancer treatments if you’re receiving them. Some hospitals are pre-screening patients for Coronavirus symptoms over the phone prior to their appointment, then screening again upon their arrival to limit any potential spread of the disease to other patients. Jo Cavallo of The ASCO Post, wrote that in the oncology community, the response has been swift to protect health-care providers and patients with cancer, who may be especially vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus because of their systemic immunosuppressive state caused by their malignancy and anticancer treatments, including chemotherapy and surgery. To reduce the risk of infection to patients and staff members, several cancer institutions, including The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, have canceled all international and domestic work-related travel for meetings or conferences. [READ MORE]
Distress related to fear and depression is familiar to most people who face cancer.  What happens when you add the additional uncertainty of unfolding current events? I’m hearing from many JoyBooters who find themselves trying to prioritize self care, but feeling alone with fears, worries, and sadness.

These times call for more emotional support, even in this time of unprecedented physical distancing.

I’m offering some antidotes to the isolation.  Please join me in choosing an online group opportunity to share more personally and deeply and to stay buoyant in these challenging waters:

Weekly Support Group – Weekly on Thursdays 7pm -must have previously attended taken Kelly’s programs. Email me for invite. Begins April 3.
Healing Well Course – Intro Course Beginning May 3rd for people who completed active treatment or are at a stabilized point in ongoing treatment.

If you are a member of Capital of Texas Team Survivor and attend Kelly’s Wednesday Wellness Warrior yoga class (or wish to be) please send me an email at to be on the list for weekly reminders AND THE ZOOM LINK to my free online JoyBooter Yoga classes for the duration of our physical distancing.

This online class is open to JoyBooters from anywhere (not just Austin). Once you are on the online class list, you will receive the reminder and link each week.

More information on how I teach yoga can be found in previous VLOG posts that share meditations and kundalini yoga practices.

Stay home and stay safe and reach out!

Don’t minimize your own feelings and needs.

Can I get a Witness?

When I was in the middle of chemo, I looked in the mirror with great curiosity. Sometimes shocked. Sometimes incredulous.

“This is me?”

No hair, no eyebrows, deep pain and fatigue. But also beauty, depth, surviving against the odds, making it through each day even when there was fear or suffering.

I hadn’t spent much time in front of the mirror before, barely wearing makeup, and not interested in the latest fashions. But now I did.

And I could see my soul.

I had no outer defenses. Sometimes I would cry at how changed I was on the outside. Deep lines had appeared out of nowhere and there were dark circles under my eyes.

But I also felt great empathy and love for this Self I was looking at. How amazing her life experience was and how hard she was trying.


You go through cancer alone.

Even if you have supportive community around you, which I did, there are still many moments that you feel profound aloneness. Everyone else’s life is going on around you. But you are going through uncertainty, procedures, tests, waiting for results, blood draws, infusions, surgery, radiation, medications, hiding your fear and fatigue so you can still participate in parts of your life.

After treatment, when the “emergency” is over for everyone else, you move forward with side effects, both physical and emotional.

And if you are in ongoing treatment? My understanding is that your aloneness can become a companion.

You feel most alone when you feel marginalized. When you are trying to hide your anger, feelings of loss at “what was,” and fear of death, so as not to make others feel uncomfortable.

In my online Winter Sanctuary Series session, I shared that when trauma occurs, you feel fragmented.

Fragmentation happens when feelings get pushed aside in favor of survival. Parts of your experience are forgotten, the changes in your body create unfamiliar and unwelcome sensations. Your identity shifts as well as your sense of who you are.

As uncomfortable as it is, fragmentation is a normal response to a traumatic, life threatening experience.

The problem is that you don’t always re-integrate.

And Integration = Healing


What does “integrated” feel like?

Settled. You have access to your emotions ( don’t feel numb). You are more in charge of how you act and react. You can talk about your experience in a coherent way.

What creates a feeling of integration?

Feeling truly seen, heard and witnessed by a caring other person is one way. Personal reflection through meditation is another. Both of these invite “the witness.” When you include others, they are your witness. When you are meditating and/or being the observer of your own experience, you are your own witness.

A feeling of compassion, either from another human or from yourself, are key ingredients of Integration.

This may be controversial, but I would submit that you cannot truly recover emotionally and feel whole and integrated UNLESS you are seen and heard and feel cared about and understood.

You can survive, yes. But we are social creatures and to really thrive, you need people and places to be yourself and connect more deeply.

Who is this new person you are becoming? How will you integrate the different parts of yourself? Where can you open and be witnessed in your pain and joy, change and growth?