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When things didn’t feel so right in the dance studio

6:05pm. March 28th 2014. Eight days ago, I was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer. What the hell is going on? Back home from shopping and running a bunch of errands to accommodate this new chapter of mine. 

How I’m feeling: Exhausted. Sleepy. Surprised at how much this new lifestyle is going to cost. 

Dance is everything to me. While you may go to the gym, to your favourite Pilates or cross fit class, read or watch TV – dance is my favourite form of meditation, physical sweat out, happy place and social activity. I feel like I’m really living when I dance. I especially love my time training and performing with my Army Of Sass (AOS) family. I love my AOS crew so so much.

03-29-14 6-06-21 PM


The evening I flew back in to Toronto from Cuba, I had a training session scheduled with one of AOS’ Instructors/Choreographers, Mama Jojo Zolina and my fellow Corporals 2 crew. I was so pumped to get back to sweating it out in the studio with some awesome choreography for the upcoming AOS performance and being mentored under great leadership. On that Tuesday evening in the studio, I immediately sensed that something was a little off. My focus wasn’t as on point and my movement wasn’t as strong – but I figured it may had been just an off day. We all have those from time to time. A couple of rehearsals later, I realized I was being challenged on a whole new level. And not in a way that felt 100% right. Warm ups and body isolations became uncomfortable. My chest, back, traps and neck muscles became more than sore. They became painful. I couldn’t exhale, release and tighten up my muscles properly without having annoying cough attacks. I hadn’t realized how much breathing properly was so much of a part of dancing – and looking great doing it. I kept a water bottle close by and would ever so often step to the side to take a few sips and to catch my breath and cough it out. Despite the fact that I had a few uncomfortable dance sessions, couldn’t focus and was messing up because of it, I still powered through. There were 3 or 4 AOS sessions that were particularly difficult for me. Here are snippets from two of them:

 Toronto Corporals 2 AOS Crew

 Toronto Corporals 1 AOS Crew

Watching these two videos remind me how off I felt in those sessions. I couldn’t drop my shoulders comfortably when the choreography called for it and I held my breath a lot to avoid the cough attacks. It was also when my face was starting to swell up and I was not sure why that was happening (I’ll explain why this ended up happening later).

The last rehearsal I went to before I was admitted in the hospital was a rough one. In fact, at one point I felt light headed and had to reach out for a dance mate’s arm to help me catch my balance. Through my treatment plan, I’m going to have to take a hiatus from training with the AOS. Well, actually – that’s even still a little up in the air. My response to chemotherapy is very unpredictable. Apparently, everyone responds to their treatment plans differently and at different rates. Either way, it’s safe to say that it’s been since March 10th that I’ve been in an AOS training rehearsal class and I’m suffering from some serious withdrawal. My AOS family has been an incredible support system for me and I will be forever grateful. Cancer: I’ve got one bad-ass army behind me. You’ve got nothing on us.

More dance videos here.

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