About 2,000 people rolled out their brightly colored mats on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art this past Sunday for a yoga class with a big cause: they were raising awareness – and money – for breast cancer research.
Living Beyond Breast Cancer has organized this event called “Reach & Raise” for the past 15 years.
Yoga instructor Jennifer Schelter taught the class to the ethereal sounds of songwriter/chant artist Yvette Pecoraro and her band.
One of the bigger teams was “Warriors Together,” organized by breast cancer survivor Megan Donascimento. “I think that I was able to get all the people who are special in my life on a yoga mat so it’s a beautiful combination where you can have friendship and yoga and a wonderful organization that offers support,” she said.
“I think being here gives everyone hope that there is life after the diagnosis,” said Dianne Donelly when she had settled onto her mat. Donnelly was just recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
For Roberta “Bobbi” Albany, it’s been a rocky road.
“My journey has had its ups and downs. I try not to stay down. I try to stay up more than down but it’s a long road,” said Albany.
Choosing yoga as an activity for a big event was deliberate. “There’s been a lot of studies with the benefit of yoga when you’re in treatment like reducing anxiety, stress and insomnia,” said Jean Sachs the CEO of Living Beyond Breast Cancer. “It’s become integrated more into practice with anyone diagnosed with cancer.”
The event also draws a lot of support from people who are not dealing with cancer themselves.
“I had an aunt that died of lung cancer so anything that I can do to support one another with such positive energy is such a wonderful thing to see—all these women out here, survivors and non- survivors supporting each other,” said Marilyn Winfield.
Men were in the minority in this sea of yoga mats, but definitely present.
Charles Riscavage was there to support his wife who is a survivor of breast cancer.
“For me, I don’t see men or women, I just see us all there supporting each other.”