Right before the New Year, I received my first direct message on my newly launched @stopdropanddanceofficial Instagram account. Shelley was a student of mine from Bay Club, and had tried Stop Drop And Dance recently at Marin Power Yoga.
"I was trying to think of a fun way to celebrate an anniversary and I thought of your class."
Yes, definitely, I thought. We celebrate people's birthdays casually all the time in class, and on certain instances, we have had exclusive birthday parties with large guest lists too. An anniversary, sure! We can do that. But then I kept reading...
"Jan 5 is my 5 year anniversary for my last day of chemo for Stage 3 breast cancer. The type I had was aggressive and so my oncologist tells me that the 5 yr mark is a milestone since the death rate drops close to zero after 5 years."
Wait. I had to pause. Wow. This wasn't just any anniversary. This poor girl is a SURVIVOR, and the crazy part is that I would have never known her story and struggle just seeing her in my classes dancing and sweating like everyone else. Stage 3 Breast Cancer. 5 years later. I get really choked up whenever I truly soak in the cruel reality and unpredictability of life.
"I thought it would be a fun way to mark the anniversary by doing a SDD class with friends on that day."
And that, my friends, is why I believe there is something special about Stop Drop And Dance and why I have put myself into this vulnerable space of sharing my heart and soul with all of you. Shelley wants to celebrate her second chance at LIFE, with us? The magnitude of that sort of honor is really hard to express. It means SO much.
There is purpose.
There is healing when we realize that we are a community supporting one another, and not individuals struggling alone. There is gratitude when we realize that life should be celebrated every moment, and not taken for granted. There is freedom when we can REALLY not care or compare ourselves to anyone else, and dance - live, speak, act, express, feel - from the HEART. That's the purpose.
We raised $460 for the To Celebrate Life Breast Cancer Foundation.
Thank you to all the dancers who showed up Saturday at NOW Power Yoga to hear Shelley's story and to donate to her favorite charity, To Celebrate Life, and a huge thanks to Danielle from Salesforce who voluntarily reached out and offered to double what we raised. I mean... wow. In attendance were Shelley's closest supporters including her brother, Rakesh, who gave us permission to share his story accomplishing "The Death Ride" - 129 miles of cycling with 15,000 feet of climbing - to raise over $10,000 towards Breast Cancer research, the kind of research that saved Shelley's life. Please read this inspiring article from Stanford Medicine:
More than dance. If you have something really special you want to celebrate with Stop Drop And Dance, please feel free to reach out. We can't promise that we'll be able to accommodate everyone's requests, but we can promise we will try. Or maybe, it's not about celebrating. Maybe you are in a tough period in your life and you just need to dance and release for a little while each day. To feel light and happy and free. Whatever it is, let us stand by you.