How yoga helped a cancer fighter through a long journey with Cervical Cancer
Tiffany Woodruff was on top of the world in 2016. She was in love, managed her own successful Yoga studio and felt strong and fit at 33 years of age. She practiced self-care along with her yoga, including having regular pap smears and wellness checks.
When it was time for her yearly exam her regular gynecologist had retired, so her primary care physician did the pap smear when she went in for bloodwork. The test results got lost, so they did a second pap smear, and the results were inconclusive.
Tiffany’s next steps were to proactively find a new doctor. Dr. Dana Stone, who did another pap smear and a colposcopy. The pap smear was normal but the colposcopy revealed a tumor the size of a plum on her cervix. Her cancer was treated at Stephenson Cancer Center with six rounds of chemotherapy and 33 rounds of radiation.
The cancer persisted, so Tiffany went to MD Anderson Cancer Center where she underwent six more rounds of chemo on her cervix . Six months later, the cancer showed up in her clavicle and para-aortic lymph nodes. This led to another 6 rounds of chemo and 28 rounds of radiation on the supraclavicular lymph node.
Tiffany is now back at Stephenson Cancer Center, doing an on-going trial with immunotherapy. At last, her tests show the cancer is dying, four long years after her initial diagnosis.
The extensive treatments left Tiffany totally exhausted. “I was just grateful I could still connect with my breath and do some yoga stretches, even while lying in bed. I even hired a yoga teacher to help me recover my strength.”
Tiffany also said Yoga had helped prepare her for dealing with the discomfort of the treatments. “In Yoga we are put in uncomfortable positions and asked to breathe. Carrying Yoga into my journey with cancer was a great practice, In addition, the physical yoga practice brought me energy, enhanced circulation, released tension, and alleviated some of the pain from treatments.”
Yoga also gave Tiffany a metaphor for life. “We learn to accept that life constantly changes. Nothing is permanent. Today’s joy will pass. So will its pain. Yoga also helps me not go too far out into the ‘what ifs’. I try to stay in the present moment — and be present with the things I can do something about right here, right now. I still have much to be grateful for.”
Early in her diagnosis, Tiffany became friends with Tarah Warren, founder of Tenaciously Teal and ovarian cancer survivor. She even helped Tarah pass out Care Packs at the cancer center before she had treatments herself.
“Tarah is one of my greatest blessings. She has done so much for me and so many other people fighting this disease. Tenaciously Teal is one of few non-profits that delivers direct, personal care and support to people who need it now. She is a true inspiration.”
Tiffany, like Tarah, is giving back in her own way by developing a special 10 minute video for cancer fighters showing simple stretches and poses that helped her. Be on the lookout for this informative video on our social media platforms and newsletter.
For more information on how Yoga can help you or a loved one fighting cancer, contact Tiffany at Flo State Yoga Studio, (405) 753-9642.