The Comeback

My whole world exploded when I was diagnosed with a recurrence of breast cancer with bone metastasis during my vacation in Paris this summer (while I was living in the U.S.) After months of silence, I’m getting my voice back. Here’s who I am now.

The explosion happened on June 24, 2022. I had been living in Atlanta, GA for 16 years and was enjoying my summer vacation in Paris—my native city—, when my oncologist announced the unthinkable: “You have a recurrence of breast cancer with bone metastasis”. The PETSCAN showed eight sites on my bone structure where cancer cells had settled. It’s been eight years since my second cancer, 18 years since the disease first entered into my life.

A week later, I made the most radical decision of my life. I came to the conclusion that, if I had a chance to survive this, it would be in France. I decided to settle in my native country close to my mom, with access to France’s universal healthcare and medical system (which is under huge pressure, just like any other medical system in the world). My gut feelings told me to stay put and concentrate on the healing process, not to travel back to Atlanta to move my stuff. To this day, I haven’t returned to Atlanta.

Instead, my Atlanta friends did what I should have done myself. They moved my stuff out of my place in Southwest Atlanta, sold or donated it, and traveled from Atlanta to Paris with suitcases full of my clothes. An incredible movement of solidarity. I still have no words to express my gratitude. Instead, I feel tears coming up.

I’ve felt as if I’ve been dropped in France by parachute, uprooted. Still feeling that way today.

As the medical treatment kicked off in the early summer, the universe sent me help—thank goodness. I was lucky to find a regional park—nature is rare in Paris suburbia, one of the world’s most densely populated areas—close to my place. I practiced yoga every morning in the park’s meadow. Bare feet. No mat. I had to feel and smell the (new) ground I was standing on. Hikers? People walking their dogs? I didn’t care, nothing stopped me from doing what I needed to do to stay somewhat sane.

A bond with my adoptive city

Another “extraordinary” thing happened around the same time. My work (at least part of it) as a yoga therapist and a teacher of French “followed” me in Paris. I’ve continued teaching online to my Georgia students. That’s helped me keep a bond with my adoptive city and stay busy, thinking about something else than cancer.

Finally, I’ve been able to put together a team of complementary medicine healers to help me in this journey where I feel a huge sense of loss. Loss of my health, loss of my Atlanta life and tribe.

Now what? Cancer impacts a person on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels. This time, the diagnosis was an even bigger slap in the face, a stronger mortality wake-up call because of the metastasis. My oncologist believes I will reach complete remission. I feel I can too. When? I don’t know.

A few things are emerging for me.

  1. The emotional work is hard. Still, I’m committed to doing it. I want to know, understand and, most importantly, feel what are the shocks that have led to the recurrence. I’m convinced it’s necessary for my healing.
  2. I’ve been so terrified by the diagnosis that I’ve let it silence me. I’m done with that. I’m finding my voice again. This post is a start.
  3. I’m continuing my work as a yoga therapist and a patient advocate, spreading the word about integrative medicine and integrative oncology. This means the true integration of complementary modalities into health care and cancer care to help us, patients and survivors. Because our lives depend on it.

It feels good to be back—back in the light—showing the world who I am. Thank you for seeing me.

I practiced yoga every morning in this meadow that’s in a park, 5 miles South of Paris. I need to feel and smell the (new) ground I was standing on.

How Are You Standing in the World?

Our body posture and tensions reflect our life experience. Thankfully, these can change at any time of our lives with a modality like yoga therapy.

It is a fact that our posture, our body build up and reflect our life experience from our early childhood and throughout our lives.

Have we been touched, welcomed, supported, reassured during the first months and years of our life? Have we been able to find our place, to occupy it fully? Encouraged to express what we love, who we are? Were we allowed to explore the potential of our body? To play with gravity?

The need to connect deeply with another and the fear to be rejected make us adapt our posture. We each respond differently to critical remarks such as “Sit straight”, “Stop getting into trouble” . Some of us may have stiffened during childhood.

It is easy to see how these repeated negative emotions and stresses produce contraction or loss of muscular tone that gradually create a veered posture or a body tension.

Good news

I have good news for you—life is movement, and all of this can change at any time in our lives. Yoga therapy can help.

You can get in touch with the fear and sadness that have been locked in the body in the form of tension by getting out of the mind and into the body and with the conscient effort to breathe deeply. With the help of the therapist, you can then express these feelings and, ultimately, accept them.

Both the verbal work and the body work help you reach an expanded version of yourself–loosened up and more aligned. You can experience this feeling of expansion off the mat, in situations of the real life. The key is to go slowly on the mat, to let these new movements–and feelings–arise, eyes closed, instead of trying hard to go into a pose. In yoga therapy, like everything in life, nothing can be rushed.

Then, you can gradually find a new way to live and stand in the world, in the right posture for you, flexible and strong all at the same time.

How Breast Cancer Has Made Me Who I Am

It’s precisely because cancer is a life-threatening disease that it has helped me find who I am. I would have preferred to learn without paying that price. Nonetheless, since two breast cancers were on my paths, I’ve decided to make sense of it all.

The universe threw two early stage breast cancers my way, ten years apart—one in 2004 (stage III) and another in 2014 (stage III that had spread in two lymph nodes). Looking back, they’re atomic explosions that have shaped my life and—as odd as it sounds—helped me find who I am.

Within weeks of my first diagnosis in 2004, I came across yoga for the first time and met my teacher, Aline Frati, in Paris (where I’m from and where I lived at the time). I also consulted with a doctor who was a nutritionist, Dr. Ithurriague. Charcuterie, cheese and wine was part of my diet back then. Hell, that’s normal for a French! Here I was listening to Dr. Ithurriague explaining how nutrition impacts the immune system. I changed my diet, practiced yoga, discovered reflexology, and did pretty much whatever I wanted during the year of my treatments. I could do that since I was on a sick leave while I received 100% of my monthly salary, as part of the French universal health care system.

This was a time of transformation, churning, grief and rest. Dr. Ithurriage also mentioned this guy who had been diagnosed with an incurable cancer and who had decided to live his dream—spend the rest of his life on a sailboat, traveling around the world. The guy ended up being cured and living many more moons. “If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, DO IT. It can make a huge difference,” concluded Dr. Ithurriague.

I had always wanted to live abroad

His words resonated with me. A year after our conversation in his office, I met an American (who lived in Atlanta) during a Thanksgiving dinner in Paris. We fell in love. I had always wanted to live abroad. After a year of a long-distance relationship, I moved to Atlanta and we got married. It was the first time I followed my gut feelings and did something for me.

Eight years went by living in a marriage, working as a freelance corporate writer, and dipping my toe in the water of yoga therapy. The news of the second cancer was just as big of a shock as the first one, especially since my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer at the same time. My medical team did their job while I went on a mission to understand the disease on an emotional, almost spiritual level.

It was time to look at what my breast cancer was saying to me. I worked with a psychologist, Laurent Malterre, who guided me. I searched my soul and my childhood years. I realized I had been left unseen and unheard. I became aware how much that had left a powerful footprint in me, and pushed me to develop a strategy to be seen—all my life, I had given abundantly to classmates, family, life partners, friends, bosses, clients, whomever. I had given to the point of exhaustion, of illness. An exhaustion that had led to cancer. Twice. On the other hand, I had helped others heal for as long as I could remember. No matter how damaged a person was, I saw the diamond they were. This is still true today.

“What is it that makes you, YOU?”

The psychologist asked me the questions I needed to hear, “Stop waiting for others to see you. It’s time you look at who you are. So, what is it that makes you, YOU? What are your beliefs and values? What speaks to your soul? What are you here for?” Each question felt like a wake-up call. I literally had a “a-ha” moment. All of what made me who I was—my yoga practice, my ability to listen and name emotions and feelings, and to see the diamond inside the other—came together. To be me, I had to help others heal and create my own yoga therapy practice in a way that deeply resonated with me.

While creating my yoga therapy practice from the ground up, I learned to value my own needs instead of putting the needs of others before mine. I divorced. The time came when I said “no” to friends who were used to me being present for them whatever my circumstances. I started dancing—another life-long dream.

It’s been a long road, full of turns, trust me. An ongoing process. That’s why I’m so proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.

Photo: at a weekly contemporary dance class provided by Fly On A Wall and their visionary teachers (here: Jimmy Joyner and Anna Bracewell Crowder) at the Windmill Arts Center in East Point, GA.

Read also:
“Pinktober, aka The Month of Over Giving” (Oct. 17)
“Pinktober — Intuition saved my breast” (Oct. 18)

Our Body has All the Answers. We Need to Listen to It.

Our life experience expresses itself in our body. That’s why I invite yoga therapy clients to dive in the depth of their flesh to listen to the body’s messages. Then, I encourage them to speak their truth to truly meet another and, ultimately, to free themselves from emotional wounds.

It’s during the course of two very serious diseases that I started doing work on the body and how it relates to emotions. I have learned a lot along the way. I have learned any trauma, any information that is too painful to process consciously, any suppressed emotion finds its way in the body in the form of tension and, sometimes, disease. I have learned our psyche strives to forget these painful experiences and feelings. We take refuge behind our masks and protections and, often, we set our body aside.

However, if we want to go deeper in our wellness journey, if we want to live a life that is in harmony with who we truly are, we need to feel, become aware and accept those suppressed emotions so that we re-integrate them into our life’s journey.

To do that, we need our body’s help simply because our psyche and body are intimately connected. They are like the hand and the glove. If the hand moves, the glove moves too. In other words, our life experience always finds a way to express itself in our physical body.

So how can we heal emotional wounds with the body’s help?

The body speaks to us but, most of the time, we don’t pay attention to those signs, we don’t feel anything. That’s why any healing process starts with allowing ourselves to pause–so we can go inwards and listen. Aline Frati, my yoga teacher, used to say, “There is no healing without taking a pause.”

“What do you feel?” is the fundamental question

Because of this, my yoga therapy method includes a style of gentle yoga that brings the person to focus on a slow, deep yogic breathing while going in and out of simple poses at a slow pace.

“What do you feel?” is the fundamental question that needs to be asked. The goal is to bring us to feel our body and listen to what it says, to be on the lookout of what the body is expressing about ourselves, about our emotional and physical wounds. The point is to become the explorer and the observer of what triggers our emotional and physical pain.

Once we have listened to what the body says, then we can move on to the other aspect of the healing journey: to put our feelings, our life experience into words. We need to share our wounds and our dreams with others who can listen. To heal, we need to truly meet another. This is the reason why all my classes start and end with a healing circle. I ask participants to participate regularly to the classes. That’s because each person heals thanks to the yoga practice, the work I do as a facilitator and also thanks to the relationship they build with the others.

This healing journey is a hard road. It requires courage and patience. However, the effort is a small price to pay for more wellness and joy in our lives.

Photo: Femme Accroupie (Crouching Woman), 1880-1882, Auguste Rodin. From the”Picasso-Rodin” exhibit, Musée Picasso, Paris, June 2021.


Rebirth is the story of my life, the thread that goes through my existence.

I was born in the first days of spring, on March 28. I imagine that’s why the idea of rebirthing, whatever the ordeals I’ve come across, is so present in my life.

That constant cycle of rebirth is the message I carry, and it’s because of that message that I’ve become a yoga therapist—to help my clients rebirth of themselves.

To rebirth means to die, first.

I believe that you are on a journey to let something die inside of you. For one goal only–so that you can rebirth of yourself. With more self-esteem. More self-confidence. More aliveness. More joy. More love really. No matter what your circumstances are.

What are you dying to? And how are you rebirthing?

Happy spring.

“I Need You To Have Faith”

How the healing journey of a wound on my breast has taught me the power of faith.

May 2014. My marriage is going to hell. I am diagnosed with a second breast cancer, and my father receives the diagnosis of a lung cancer the next day. This extreme situation calls for me to move back to Paris where my parents live. All three of us need to be under the same roof.

The breast conserving surgery goes well although the situation turns tricky. Complications bring on an infection in the incision that simply won’t heal. My treatment includes 4.5-months of chemo–a must considering the tumor’s profile—which I am about to start.

An infection. Chemo. Those things usually don’t go well together. I have no other choice than to start chemo and hope the infection heals.

I manage—God knows how—to get rid of the infection at the end of these 4.5 months. What a relief for both my surgeon and I! Another tricky turn comes up though. We’re now in the middle of winter. The incision transforms into a wound which has to heal from the bottom up so that it doesn’t get infected again. This means I need to go to a nurse, every single day, so that they clean the wound and change the dressing, until the wound closes up. How long will this take? No one knows.

Two months later, the wound is still wide open. I go visit my surgeon for one of those frequent check-ups. I feel so discouraged I cannot hide it. “For the wound to heal, I need you to have faith,” says Dr Dulaurans. His words wake me up. They echo what my friend and reflexogist, Rodrigue Vilmen, tells me for months now, “You’re emotionally torn and don’t want to let go of your marriage. The wound is the physical expression of this struggle. Have faith. The wound will heal in the spring when you will feel clarity again.”

That’s exactly what happens. Six months later.

Today, I’m asking you the same thing—Have faith.

I Am Beautiful

Appalachian North Carolina

I’ve decided to give myself a gift. That gift is to see the beautiful woman that I am. Finally.

It’s Pinktober. This time of year, I usually write a blog post about experiencing breast cancer. This year, I feel different. I feel like reflecting on things–three things–that make me… beautiful. Yes, that’s right—BEAU-TI-FUL.

My “secret”

I have a “secret”. It’s a deep knowledge of feelings and emotions, a deep knowledge of human-ness and humanity. That knowledge is part of my fabric. It’s an insatiable desire to discover new worlds—whatever they are—, to reach out to the soul of others and get to understand them. Whether I walk through a Malcom X Festival, groove in a community of hippies or attend an Alcoholic Anonymous speakers meeting, I connect with others. Each time I connect with them as if I could become their best friend, if only we’d have a little more time together.

Rise above

Cross two cancers, move across the ocean, experience living together, live through a divorce and losses of all kinds, cope with a complete change of career… All this while still believing in love, wanting to build a life together, and… dancing. I go through my ordeals with the willingness to rise above, to keep believing that everything is possible again and again. Hey, you, all the angels that look after me, please help me keep my willingness that way!


“Stay who you are”. Leif Roland, my therapist and gestalt trainer at the time, made that demand to me shortly after I landed in the States, thirteen years ago. Immersed in a new culture, I was paralyzed by what I felt was expected of me—to be polite, smiling and happy, no matter what. His words gave me the permission to be myself. And I have. No matter what.

How about you? What makes YOU beautiful?

Related posts:
Pinktober–Intuition Saved My Breast
Pinktober aka The Month Of OVER Giving

The Wounded Healer

Doctors, therapists… we’re all “wounded healers” since Greek mythology. I personally relate to those words as I feel both intimately as a wounded person and a healer.

My friend Randy Spiers, an astrologer, was the first to tell me about the idea of the “wounded healer”.

The psychologist Carl C. Jung, who looked into archetypes, came up with the concept of the “wounded healer” to describe a phenomenon that may take place between a physician and his patient, a healer and his client. Jung went back to Greek mythology to find its origin.

Chiron was a god, a centaur, a half-man horse. He was knowledgeable, peaceful and gentle. He was also a revered teacher, known for his skill in medicine. The myth says Chiron was wounded accidentally by Heracles’s poisoned arrow. Chiron didn’t die. Instead, he suffered excruciating pain for the rest of his life. He continued to heal the sickly and the injured until he was given the opportunity to become mortal, and died. It was because of Chiron’s wound that he became known as a legendary healer.

As a cancer survivor and a yoga therapist, I am a wounded healer too.

Five years ago, I started exploring my wound. I was coming out of my second breast cancer. I needed to understand the disease. What was it saying to me? In the process I searched my childhood years. My mother was in a depression that doctors thought they could “cure” with Valium. My father was unavailable, working hard pulling his family out of financial distress. Meanwhile, I was left unseen and unheard.

An Irrepressible Need To Be Seen

That left a powerful footprint in me. Just like any other human being, I had an irrepressible need to be seen, to be heard. I realized that, in order to be seen, I had developed a strategy–I gave abundantly. I gave to classmates, family, life partners, friends, clients, whomever. I gave to the point of exhaustion, of illness.

That’s how two breast cancers broke into my life, ten years apart. The first one immerged after I put an end to an abusive relationship of ten years.

Then, I crossed the ocean to start anew.

Because I believed—and still do—in a life together, I got married. There again, I was unseen. I had the immense courage to leave the relationship.

I gave up an established career as a corporate journalist to create my own yoga therapy practice. I poured everything that I had learned from my own healing journey into my practice. For once, I felt seen.

The way has been marked with other losses.

Since my first cancer, it’s been a gigantic healing journey. Every step of this voyage has had, and still has, one purpose—to be seen and heard. It’s my commitment, it’s my journey as a human and a healer.

The Wounded Healer as Cultural Archetype (Purdue University)
The Wounded Healer: A Jugian Perspective (

The Five-Year Mark

Time to reflect on how the past five years, since my second cancer, have left their footprint in my life. With one big lesson learned—my own needs are as valuable as others’.

Five years ago, I was diagnosed with my second breast cancer. Once again, I was terrified, face to face with my mortality. Thank God, life, the universe or whatever you want to call that higher power, I have been in remission ever since.

This second time, cancer has changed me in a deeper way than the first time. The change didn’t occur in my lifestyle habits. I changed the way I ate, relaxed, exercised, and lived fifteen years ago after my first cancer, and I have maintained these habits ever since. Instead, this recurrence has transformed me at the soul level.

Looking back at these five years, I see a long, devious road of learning something that I have discovered to be crucial to my wellbeing—the immense power of valuing my needs. There is a reason for that. I used to put others’ needs before mine—always. As a matter of fact, to me, cancer people have that common characteristic–they put others’ needs before their own.

Back to my long, devious road.

In 2014, I realized I had helped my husband to fulfill his dream—to buy a house—which had nothing to do with my own—to be seen by the man I loved. We ended up with a house and unable to connect. We divorced. Two years later, I gave up my 25-year career as a corporate journalist. Having a “title” and a good professional status were actually my father’s need, not mine. Then, the time came when I said “no” for the first time to friends who were used to me being present for them and saying “yes” whatever my circumstances. The time also came to say “yes” to more play. I started dancing–a life-long dream–and have brought contra dance, zydeco, salsa and blues into my life since then.

This past year, I have stepped in a new relationship. More than anything, this relationship has tested my ability to value my needs, not only my lover’s. I’m getting there. The next step will—hopefully, maybe–be to find a balance between the two of us.

Several things have been vital to walk this long, devious road, like listening to myself thanks to my own yoga practice, and people who see me and who listen–I mean who really listen like those in my Non-Violent Communication group. Cheers to the next five years.

A Place To Be Reborn

Atlanta has one of the best cancer wellness centers in the country. As a survivor, I have attended their classes and been blown away by the patients’ creativity and aliveness.

I found out about the Piedmont Cancer Wellness Center in Atlanta, this past autumn, while I was looking to teach yoga therapy to cancer patients. With that goal in mind, I met the manager, Carolyn Helmer. She suggested that I, as a survivor myself, start by attending classes and workshops to get a vibe of the place, the people who look to the center for support, as well as the healers and the teachers in the support team.

I was a little annoyed by the idea. I was passionate about teaching yoga therapy to anyone affected by cancer. Nevertheless, I wanted nothing else to do with people looking like zombies.

I met people who were dealing or had dealt with breast cancer, lung cancer, brain cancer, pancreatic cancer. You name it.

I also came across something I didn’t expect—aliveness.

I attended soul collage sessions, yoga classes and personal development workshops. We all shared a common experience–The experience of facing or of having faced, at some point in our lives, the effects of a life-threatening disease.

During a lunch break, I talked with Cookie, a woman who had had pancreatic cancer seven years before, now in full remission. I had noticed her witty look and remarks during the class. “If it wasn’t for this place, I wouldn’t be alive today,” she told me.

During a workshop on how to cultivate self-care, the counselor asked us to come together in groups of three and brainstorm to write our own quote on self-care. Adele, Elizabeth and I were ecstatic with our quote: “Drop the mask of perfection and replace it with authenticity. Allow the development of creativity and reach for the unknown”.

After the workshop, I left the center and took the elevator to the building’s lobby. Suddenly, I stopped walking. I became aware that people I came across—employees, visitors, etc.–looked dull and drained. A thought came to my mind. I had just spent three hours with a bunch of cancer people who looked more alive than the “healthy” people. I smiled while realizing that, after all, I liked the zombies.

The visual at the top of the page is a card I created during a soul collage session at the center on Jan. 5, 2019. The card is titled “I See You”.