Debra Campagna was diagnosed with breast cancer on Valentine’s Day, 2000. She was 50 years old. At the time she was facing an aggressive treatment plan that included surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Little did she know that it would lead her to a beautiful discovery: yoga.
Prior to her diagnosis, Campagna had exercised religiously, going to the gym five times a week. Once she realized she’d have to sacrifice her workout routine during treatment, she began looking for alternative ways to stay active. That’s when she found yoga. “She’d had no yoga experience but hoped to find the practice gentle enough to continue during treatment. In fact, she was able to work with the teacher once a week for the following year.
Prior to starting chemotherapy, Debra had two surgeries: the first to remove the lump and the several lymph nodes where the malignancy had spread, and the second to remove stray cancer cells the first surgery had missed. Then, beginning in April, she went through eight rounds of chemotherapy. She also had 30 radiation treatments. Along the way she had to contend with CT and PET scans, biopsies, and innumerable other tests, consultations, and medications.”
Debra is convinced that yoga made a big difference in her cancer treatment. Particularly, she found a way to stay calm and centered during long stretches in PET scan machines or while recovering. According to Dr. Timothy McCall, the editor of Yoga Journal, “studies suggest that doing yoga while going through breast cancer treatment helps you get through it with fewer side effects,”
Thanks to yoga, mental toughness, determination and a great team of doctors, Campagna beat cancer. She went on to preach the power of yoga to other patients in need, working as a yoga therapist for those with cancer, chronic pain and other medical challenges.
In the midst of the toughest stretch of her life, Debra Campagna discovered a life-changing therapy in the form of yoga and committed her life to passing on that knowledge to others, acknowledging that “while illness often comes in a frightening package, it can still lead to beautiful discoveries.”