Underwater Healer About Face Underwater Healer About Face

Kelly Miyahara – Breast Cancer Survivor

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Kelly Miyahara - Breast Cancer Survivor

Breast Cancer Survivor

My name is Kelly Miyahara and I’m 41 years old. I was born in West Covina, CA, and grew up in Southern & Northern CA, before moving to Northern Virginia to finish high school. I then moved to Seattle, WA for to attend the University of Washington. After graduation, I spent time living abroad in Paris, France before finally settling in Southern California, where I have been for over 15 years.

My Mom, sister and I were all diagnosed within 18 months of each other. We discovered that all 3 of us are BRCA2+, a hereditary genetic mutation that increases risks of breast, ovarian and other cancers. I was diagnosed breast cancer, Stage 0 (DCIS), after it was found during pathology tests post surgery. I thought I was having a preventative double mastectomy to hopefully decrease my chances of ever facing a cancer diagnosis. It turns out I made the right decision, in the nick of time. My last surgery (breast reconstruction) was in May, and I am feeling great! Next up will be the Fallopian tube and ovary removal (oophorectomy), but first, I must make the final decision about whether or not a second baby is my family’s future or not.

I loved Erena’s story from Talks@Google and how she got involved with water transformation and photography. I love her intentions and spirit. Water is a huge part of my life, so it seemed only natural that I’d want to meet my Japanese sister from another mister and be mermaids together.

I had no idea what to expect. To be honest, it was harder than I thought it would be. I am so used to moving/swimming when I am in the water. It was a challenge to simply float and be rather still.

I love the water and being in or around it. I was simply nervous about not understanding how to “be” for Erena’s project. No one wants to look awkward in photos that should be beautiful. I also wasn’t sure how I’d feel about my body, as I am still focusing on getting my fitness back post-surgeries, and swimwear isn’t my favorite choice of apparel these days.

It was lovely being with Erena and her energy. It felt smooth and dreamy underwater. There were almost moments when I forgot that I was going to need to breathe. At first it was difficult for me to not blow bubbles and then to not get water in my nose when coming up for air. I am accustomed to blowing bubbles when swimming or SCUBA diving.

My mood after the photo shoot was Happy. What a great experience to share with such a beautiful soul sister! I was unsure that Erena was happy with anything she captured though. Being “on-camera” for so many years, I am highly critical of what I look like at times, especially in photos.

I love the water! The pool, the ocean, for drinking or playing! I am usually the first one to jump in and the last one to come out. I do believe it is healing and it has helped me in my recovery. The first physical challenge I wanted to take on after my surgeries was a 2.1 mile ocean swim. It was a goal for me, and it felt AMAZING to be out there swimming freely again!

The night of the photo shoot, I was exhausted. It had been a busy day, and being in the water not only gives me energy, it also exhausts me. I slept soundly that evening.

Erena was easy to talk to and made me feel comfortable. I felt bad that I wasn’t sure what she wanted. I didn’t know if I needed to be more free or silly or if I should pose for her. I loved that she has no expectations, and just wanted to go with the flow.

I would recommend this to other survivors. It is an experience like none other. It also is a way to create awareness for others and in turn, help others. Thank you Erena for your work and dedication to goodness and healing!

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