What could I possibly tell you about cancer that hasn’t already been told or felt by every single one of us out there? The reality of cancer lives, sadly, within each one of us, whether directly or through a family member, friend, lover, or neighbor. And while we all experience the devastating pain that this disease brings upon us not all of us are fortunate enough to experience hope. Hope is the only emotion that can carry us through this experience, heal our scars, and enable us to live on and celebrate the memory of those we loose in the process.
On Saturday morning, May 18, 2013, the gods opened their hearts and let the sun shine at its brightest over San Diego’s Petco Park, home of the Padres, where over seven hundred yogis from dozen of studios joined arms with friends, families, and strangers, to celebrate hope and raise funds for City of Hope. I have rarely been so touched and humbled by something as I have been by the people of San Diego on that glorious morning. In all honesty I spent half the class crying while doing Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) and listening to the words of wisdom imparted by the five amazing yoga instructors leading the practice: Michael Fukumura, Stacy McCarthy, Bonnie Saldivar-Jones, Claire Petretti Marti and Seane Corn.
But perhaps the most touching moment of the class was upon its commencement when we were asked to pick up the little golden bells we were handed prior and hold them in our hands. And then it started: “Those who have been recently diagnosed with cancer or are currently undergoing treatment please ring your bell.” And bells began to ring. “Those who have overcome cancer in the last year or two please ring your bell.” More bells began to ring. And so on until they reached the five year mark and hundreds of bells were ringing as one into the morning sun, joined in by the bells of those affected by cancer though a family member or a friend.
A beautiful young woman practicing next to me raised her hand and began ringing her bell at the one year mark. The wrist she used to ring her bell showed a small tattoo that simply read I Hope. She wasn’t crying anymore as she, that Saturday morning, was a warrior, a survivor, a heart full of hope! But I was. I was crying for her, I was crying for my father who lost his battle with cancer many years ago, I was crying for my beautiful departed friend Andreea, and for all the hearts and souls that have to endure this heartbreak. But most importantly I was crying for hope, for the hope that we all come together and help find a cure soon so that our children and their children don’t have to go through what our generation goes through.
And that is what Yoga for Hope San Diego is doing! Over the past three years Yoga For Hope has raised over one hundred thousand dollars for City of Hope, a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center and independent biomedical research, treatment and education institution focused on conquering cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases. And while most people still believe that it takes an army to conquer the enemy in reality one single person can actually make a difference. So please consider joining Yoga For Hope in 2014 and help City of Hope shorten the time it takes to get from bold, innovative ideas to powerful new medical treatments. Don’t be embarrassed to donate five dollars; your five dollars plus my five dollars, plus five dollars from each one of the hundreds of San Diego yogis can change the trajectory of a life and give hope to those in need.