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Tuesday, 30-May-2017 05:09:15 EDT
healing inspiration from a cancer survivor

There are many women who have survived breast cancer multiple times and although each of their stories are significant and moving, one incredible woman's eloquent words stand out. Her expressions of growth, strength, and gentle peace – with an equal amount of zest for exercise and healthy living – she has become an inspiration to the many who know her... From the vault, here's one from Carolyn Hoar.

The power of nature's peace heals mental and emotional stresses while keeping fit.

I had planned to write an article on interval training. I really love interval training as part of my workouts but another idea became more prevalent. As I was running this morning I decided that I would write from the heart.

To me, there is nothing more peaceful and beautiful than nature. I find when I am in need of some peace or strength in my life, I head to the forest and I run the trails. Physically, the benefits far outweigh those on the road. Running on grass, sand and mud are great ways of elevating the heart rate without the stress on the knees that running on concrete brings. Also, the uneven terrain helps to strengthen the ankles and the hills are wonderful for strengthening all the muscles in the legs and, of course, give you a phenomenal cardiovascular workout.

However, true health isn't just about being physically fit – mental and emotional health is just as important.

Life today is full of challenges for all of us and I find that nature can offer, in its peace and serenity, a powerful perspective that has a calming affect on one's spirit. I have been running trails with my dog for many years. Sometimes I bring friends along. One morning – after the previous night's huge snowfall – the woods were quiet. Behind us came two beautiful horses, their riders dressed in full-length coats. The scene was so stunning, it took our breaths away. As they galloped past, they sprayed our faces with the snow from their hooves.

On another occasion in the summertime, very early one morning just as the sun was rising, I rounded a corner from a trail that took me down to a little lake. The lake was shrouded in a low gentle mist and there on the other side was the imposing figure of a beautiful stag – the tips of his antlers glistened in the sunshine. We both just stared at each other for a few seconds and then majestically he took off leaving me to wonder if I'd just had a vision. It has been through experiences such as these that I have found peace through many kinds of adversity.

Many years ago, I had cancer for the first time. My twin boys were only six years of age and my daughter was ten. The idea of not being around to see them grow up was heart breaking – so was the thought of my pending treatment. During this time, I met many wonderful people and one particular young woman that I will never forget. We were both about the same age – in our late thirties – and she too had small children. Her name was Yvonne Schaller and her children were at that time two and four years old. We both had our treatments. I got better and so did Yvonne for a while... Unfortunately, Yvonne had a very aggressive cancer that returned and a couple of years later she passed away. I was deeply affected by her passing because she was such a lovely young woman – and because she was so young. But I also felt guilty that I had survived and she had not.

Back then, as I do now, I look to the trails to find my healing. I ran and ran and ran trying to work out my feelings. Finally, I realized that I felt I'd been given a second chance for a reason – and that I needed to give back to society. I volunteered for several organizations until I found my true calling – Camp Quality, working with children stricken by cancer. It has taken me a while to get here and now there is nowhere else I'd rather be.

My long walks or runs through the forest with friends, my dog, or alone has been a huge strength and comfort to me and to many of them too.


Carolyn Hoar has been a fitness instructor for more than 20 years. A two-time breast cancer survivor, she spends most of her spare time raising funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Society.

Carolyn Hoar
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