On February 11, 2016, I heard the words no one wants to hear: “You have breast cancer.” I can still feel the slew of emotions if I close my eyes and take myself back to that time and place sitting in the doctor’s office, but I don’t close them any longer. I keep my eyes wide open. Open to love. Open to unlimited possibilities. Open to help others through their journey. I have learned so much in three short years. One of the biggest things I have learned is not to look back. The only way is forward; what we do in the present makes the biggest difference.

Growing up I never really celebrated my birthday because it was hunting season in the Midwest. I think subconsciously I didn’t want to have my birth-life celebration surrounded by so much death. It was unnatural to me even though I knew it was a way of life for many people.

However, I celebrate my LIFE daily. Each day I am on borrowed time – now more than ever. Sure, I have my days, but I must keep looking forward. I have so much for which I am grateful: family, friends, fur babies, a home, a few jobs with different hats. I get to LIVE each day with a big, open heart. I get to have a choice to choose. I get to help others with their journey…maybe even yours. I want to help others by inspiring and empowering them to share their stories and educate others in the process.

We cannot do cancer alone. It is a community. It is a community of warriors!  So here, my friends, are some educational tips: Had I not done a self-breast exam I might not be here today.  Did you know that the leading risk factor for breast cancer is simply being a woman (though breast cancer does occur in men, it is 100 times more common in women). A woman has an almost 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer. This risk is even higher if you have a family history, but most women who get breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease. Having a first degree relative (mother, daughter or sister) with breast cancer almost doubles a woman’s risk. Scary, right? It doesn’t have to be. Prevention is KEY. Women often detect breast cancers themselves, as I did, so don’t underestimate the importance of a monthly breast self-exam.

Visit your doctor and find out how to give yourself a breast exam, and anyone over the age of 50 should be seeing the doctor once a year for a mammogram. Got what they call “dense” or “lumpy” breasts? Ask your doctor about the 3D mammogram or ultrasound with your mammogram. Both procedures can detect so much more. And taking care of yourself is the best LOVE you can give. Get checked!

Shay Moraga is an E-RYT500 yoga instructor, lululemon Ambassador and triple negative breast cancer survivor whose mission is to inspire, empower and educate. She can be reached at [email protected] or (760) 895.1705.

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