Exercise at Sorrentino’s Compassion House

By: Barbara Lynn Burns

In May 2015, I found a golf ball-sized tumor in my right breast and was shortly thereafter diagnosed with breast cancer. I call my cancer journey “the full meal deal,” as I had surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, IV Herceptin, and pills for ten years. At every stage, there was a setback or a bad side effect. It was a very hard battle. Behind my smiling face, I felt sad, frustrated, angry, and alone.

One element that helped me through this journey was exercising. During my stay at Sorrentino’s Compassion House, when I was ‘away from the world,’ I seized the opportunity and decided to be kind and good to my body. I took advantage of the gym area at the House and worked out every day. I walked on the treadmill to find release – while walking, I let go of any thoughts and feelings that got me down. I turned up the music on my iPod and sweated out any frustration or anger that I felt.

I also took advantage of the great classes the House offered. The yoga class was a time for me to relax and gently stretch my body. It felt so good, emotionally as well as physically. The instructor had a beautiful and soothing voice that spoke uplifting words. Another wonderful instructor created a personalized workout routine for me that best helped my body. Both of these instructors shared their joy and compassion. It was incredible to be surrounded by women who taught great classes that healed my body, soul, and mind.

While undergoing harsh treatments, exercise provided me with solace – something I could do to heal and make my body feel good. It was a much-needed addition to my cancer journey.

Barbara is a Junior and Senior High School Arts teacher from Athabasca. In 2015, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and has been a part of the Compassion House community ever since.