An Interview with Liz Batenhorst
Author of “Beat Cancer Chase Happiness: A Resource Guide for Battling Cancer from a Caregiver Turned Survivor”
In less than one year, Liz Batenhorst learned the ins and outs of what a cancer diagnoses really means- first as a caregiver to her mother, then first hand, as a patient.
An advocate for positive thinking, affirming mantras and exhaustive research, Liz used all of her newfound knowledge and experience to reach out to others. Her e-book, “Beat Cancer Chase Happiness: A Resource Guide for Battling Cancer from a Caregiver Turned Survivor,” serves as an insider’s guide to resources and acts like a friend and seasoned veteran letting you know the hairy details of what to expect. Liz hopes that the information in her e-book will spark conversations within the community, and set up a Facebook page to create a space for sharing information.
The y4c blog was lucky to have the chance to catch up with Liz and ask her a few questions about her book and her experience at The Retreat Project’s fall retreat.
y4c-Where did the title of your book come from?
LB: When we were going through treatment, first for my mom and then for myself, my husband and I knew that- look, this is going to change us in many ways- some will be good, and some bad. But we asked, what do we want to do after cancer, how do we want to live our life? And that is where we came up with the title, Chasing Happiness.
y4c -How did you find y4c/The retreat project?
LB: My reflexologist recommended it; she gave me some flyers and pamphlets. I went online and checked out the information on the website and then applied. I thought this would be perfect to deepen my practice and start to get into meditation at a deeper level.
y4c -What impact did it have on your healing process?
LB: I think it had multiple impacts. One, it was amazing to see all of these women, how positive they were and how much cancer had changed their lives. Two, I was inspired by the Retreat Project itself. My husband and I had already started working on Chase Happiness at this point, although it hadn’t launched yet. I knew we wanted TRP to be one of our beneficiary organizations after this weekend. It really opened up my mind; I was able to see for the first time how yoga was a part of healing from the perspective of a cancer patient.
y4c -Did you do yoga before you were diagnosed with cancer?
LB: No- I had never done any of the integrative practices- yoga, reflexology, acupuncture, meditation. None of these were offered to my mother when she was diagnosed with cancer, I found them coming up again and again in the research on treatment I was going through as her caregiver.
Because of that experience, when I was diagnosed right away I made sure I knew what was available to me. I noticed yoga helped me most with the side effects of treatment. It also was a good start in grounding yourself, in learning to take the present moment and just be present in that moment. It helped alleviate some of the stress and anxiety, especially through breathing exercises. It helped me build flexibility but also strength, and importantly it helps me build bone density.
But it also helped with a lot of the things nobody wants to talk about, like constipation. It just kept coming back to play a huge role in my recovery. I found that I didn’t have the same level of side effects as other friends or people that I knew going through similar treatment. It is also possible that is because I went in healthy, I had none of the 10 Risk Factors.
y4c -Do you continue to practice?
LB: I do, yes. My two daughters, 8 and 10, also practice with me now and they really like it. We try to pull my husband in. He practices with me sometimes, too.
y4c -Did you notice a difference between the y4c approach and regular yoga classes?
LB: I didn’t before I went on the retreat. I had the privilege of going on a TRP retreat this fall and Tari really taught me a lot about the difference of teaching yoga for cancer and regular yoga classes.
I had also been working with a woman who worked with cancer patients before, as I had recently had a port implanted. I didn’t want to do anything to hurt that, or to cause a need for more surgery.
I do wish I had known more about yoga before I started treatment. I met Kitty, a y4c teacher, on the retreat and found that she was from the same area in NJ as I am. I would have looked her up; one of her teaching jobs is at my local studio, Yoga Synthesis. We do keep in touch, Kitty sends me emails with information and her newsletters, and I have her listed on my resources page.
y4c -Did you learn anything from your fellow retreat project attendees?
LB: My husband and I were already working on the e-book Chase Happiness, so I was able to ask the other women, “Did anyone ever tell you this?” And everybody said no. They were a wonderful sounding board.
I don’t pretend that it is a medical guide, because it is not. It is more of an insider’s guide of resources, whether people choose to use them or not. Websites that offer solid information- and don’t just scare the heck out of you., the best books on how to talk to young kids about cancer, the best cook books, just a compilation of my research knowledge and tips all in one place. It is really about my own journey and my wish to share it. In the e-book, after ever section I say, this was my perspective. What is yours? What helped you? Let us know on the Beat Cancer Chase Happiness FB page. I want to create a community where people can come and ask these questions, and get into the details of what nobody ever tells you.
Please visit www.chasehappiness.com/beat_cancer.html to learn more about Liz and purchase a copy of the e-book Beat Cancer Chase Happiness.