The cancer diagnosis affects every area of our lives: our minds; our bodies; our relationships with partners, children, and friends; our sense of identity; and our thoughts about the future and what is possible.

Just when you think it’s over and you are getting your life back, there’s more to adjust to. It’s hard to slip back into “normal,” even if everyone around you is ready for you to resume as though nothing ever happened.

I call what you’ve been through shape-shifting. Some parts of you grow and others disappear, both spiritually and physically!

You grow and experience life in deeper and more vivid ways on the one hand, and grapple with deep suffering and fear on the other. You are changed by the cancer experience, both inside and out.

Where will you fit in now, with your new shape and sense of self that is still integrating? How can you get the support you need to speak of the pain and loneliness?  What will you need to be able to grieve what you have lost?

Is there a space that can help mirror back to you your courage in continuing to connect with life, even when sometimes you feel overwhelmed and like giving up?

I don’t believe in giving up, but I do believe in surrendering.

What’s the difference? To surrender is to let go of trying to control all the details, taking responsibility for the feelings of others, or engaging in self-blame or perfectionism.

For me, surrendering also includes putting myself in the hands of the unknown and the Infinite, trusting in the power of regeneration, hope and healing. How can we choose life and love up until our very last breath?

When I really surrender the idea that I can control everything, there’s a huge weight lifted. I can look around and enjoy the blessings that surround me.

Surrender takes practice and reminders. It takes community.

What do you need to surrender in order to lighten your load and, as they say in the movie, The Wiz: “Ease on down the road?”

Joy Boots

Joy Boots isn’t a name I invented to make you believe you’ve entered a world of sugar and honey. It’s a term describing a deeply felt experience I had during a movement group at the time of my own cancer recovery.

During my recovery, I remembered a time when I was 5 years old in 1973 and received a beautiful pair of white patent leather go-go boots. I put those fancy boots on and danced around my grassy backyard in Houston, Texas singing at the top of my lungs a song I knew from church: “I’ve got the joy joy joy joy down in my heart, down in my heart to stay and I’m so happy, so very happy..…”

Even now, I can feel the ground beneath me and see the clear blue sky above, as I exclaimed my delight to the heavens (and all the neighbors).

As I continued my recovery, I began using this memory as a signal from my body to advise me on when to say yes and when to say no.

I asked myself, “Can I do this with my joy boots on?”

As a therapist, yoga teacher, and survivor, I’ve come to believe that this experience is available to all of us, wherever we are in our journey. It’s not something you can go and buy and it isn’t something you “do.” It’s something you carry in your body and heart, something no one can ever take away from you.

Your precious body holds memories of health and spontaneous energy and joy, just as it holds the experience of suffering. I’m devoted to helping you reconnect with these memories because they can be your most powerful ally and guide.

Here’s what I know: Joy Boots will help orient you on a daily basis on what to invite into your life. I believe cancer has taught all of us that we can only benefit from being more selective about our invitations.

My Joy Boots program, a blend of yoga, group talk therapy, and online coursework, invites you into a liberating experience that will encourage you to prioritize your well-being, engage with a beautiful community, and connect with the pulse of your life.


I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer 16 years ago, with a newborn baby, and after years of (mostly) healthy living. I felt betrayed by my body. My fantasy about the first year of my daughter’s life and what kind of mother I’d be was shattered.

After the end of active treatment, it wasn’t over. I was a psychotherapist and a yoga teacher who still found it hard to manage. I had physical pain and limitations, low energy, fear of recurrence, terrible chemobrain, difficulty sleeping, early menopause, and no clear path forward. I wasn’t “over it” and quite frankly, I wasn’t interested in adjusting to the so-called “new normal.”

It took time for me to heal. Yoga and meditation helped. A lot.

But what I needed most were places to express the feelings that I’d set aside in order to survive that first year. I needed places to feel the anger and loss and fear. The confusion. The incompetence and loss of identity. The astonishment at the connection with strangers. The vulnerability in asking for and accepting help from family and friends when I was far more comfortable being the helper. The shock and disappointment. The strong and beautiful people I met who didn’t make it.

We also need places to wonder and talk about gratitude and remember the sacred moments of inspiration or healing that may not have happened any other way.

Eventually, through feeling and expressing, I cleared out enough of the anger and anger at loss to really re-connect with the pulse of life and feel creative and engaged again in the world.


Kelly began her professional life as a community organizer and she continues to value community connection and uplift. She is a licensed clinical social worker in Austin, Texas, and has had a private practice integrating psychotherapy and yoga for 25 years.

She has extensive training in individual and group therapy from a variety of models including modern analytic, systems-centered, relational, IFS, EMDR, psychodynamic family systems, and strengths based.

These days, she integrates a wide variety of helpful practices into her JoyBoots groups and classes for cancer survivors.

Healing Well

Reconnecting With Your Life After Cancer
An online self-paced course designed for anyone healing from cancer.

Jumpstart Your Healing

1:1 Individual Telehealth Sessions with Kelly
Personal support to help you move beyond a resigned acceptance of the “new normal”.