Cancer patients fight to save yoga classes
Published Tuesday, October 18, 2016 4:23PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 18, 2016 7:15PM EDT
Montreal's yoga community is rallying to save classes for cancer patients after a funding cut.
For the past eight years, free gentle yoga classes have been offered to cancer patients at the Happy Tree Yoga Centre in Westmount with the help of the Cedars CanSupport Foundation.
That funding is now being redirected.
“The idea is to bring all services onto one site, at the Glen site,” explained Helen Rossiter, interim director at Cedars CanSupport.
Rossiter said she knows it's disappointing, but hopes the new classes at the hospital will also offer comfort.
“It helps them to conquer their anxiety about coming back to the site, so they’re not just coming here for chemo or radiation treatments, they are coming here for something good.”
Breast cancer survivor Valiery Quinn-Holland said she has no interest in taking classes at the hospital.
“I don't think I would want to go into a hospital environment, because of what the surroundings would mean to me,” she said.
Quinn-Holland said yoga helped after her diagnosis left her feeling fragile.
“Every time I had a doctor’s visit or a test coming up, I would just freeze up. I was stressed. I wouldn't sleep for a few days beforehand,” she said.
But yoga now helps her both physically and mentally.
“It changed my life. It took a lot of lot of stress off of me… in the back of my mind there is that constant C word, it never totally goes away. And the meditation and that helps you,” she said. “It gives me something outside of my sickness.”
Happy Tree owner and instructor Melanie Richards said she’s inspired by the benefits she’s witnessed while teaching the class.
“I get a lot of testimonials, anything from people saying, ‘Hey Melanie, when I first started, my arm only went up to here, and now look!’ And they'll show me they regained their full range of motion,” she said.
“You try telling the cancer patients that are in the class right now, ‘Sorry, you can't come anymore.’ I see the incredible benefit it gives them,” she said.
A Go Fund Me campaign was started Monday to help keep the class in Westmount.
“It's still brand new and already the response has been tremendous. So many people are sharing it. It's really heartwarming,” said Richards.