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Willow – Breast Cancer Survivor

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Willow Star

Breast Cancer Survivor

I am willow star. I am 51. I grew up in california. Santa Clara, Clearlake, Santa Rosa, and I have been in San Francisco now for more than 30 years. I do so many things! I am a photographer as well, and I am an author, public speaker and guide, helping people live their best cancer free life.

I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, that was metastasized¬†throughout my liver. It is very rare to get this as a first time cancer. I am special that way. ūüėČ

Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I wanted to die. I was not living an aligned life. I was at rock bottom, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer was a huge wake up call. I actually didn’t want to die, I wanted to live a life that was mine. Cancer came to heal me, not hurt me. It guided to me to my tribe, a healthy lifestyle, to be my most authentic self. I left my 26 year marriage, stopped drinking, stopped sugar, started eating plants and things that supported my body, not drained it. i have experienced more living in the past 5 years than in my entire previous 46.¬†I have been tumor free for more than 3.5 years! I am beating all the odds. I am grateful. I have worked hard to heal.

What inspired you and why did you want to be involved in this project?

Tara Coyote, a fellow breast cancer thriver, shared Erena’s info with me and I instantly knew I wanted to work with her and have this experience of being free underwater.

What were your plans for the photo shoot? What are you expecting from it?

I was not sure what to expect. I love the water and hadn’t been in it in a long time, so I was excited, especially because the pool was heated to 92 degrees!! I love the heat!

How was the experience with an underwater portrait session?

It was a very special experience. One I feel everyone should experience sometime. I felt very supported and safe in the warm water. It was very serene. Erena’s energy is very grounded and gentle. It felt very natural to be in the water with her. It was tiring for sure and I ended up with a lot of salt water in my nose! Very worth it though.

How was your mood after you finished?

After the shoot, I got an organic veggie burrito, and crashed in the back of my van near the beach. I was exhausted, in a great way. Like a child. It felt good to be so physically tired. I was proud of myself for navigating the water so well. I felt grateful for another beautiful experience cancer gifted me.

What does WATER mean to you? Do you think this experience could help overcoming your trauma? Would you go back to the water again?

I see water as a great equalizer. It can hold us, it can relieve pain, it leaves us weightless. I love floating and being immersed underwater as well. I believe¬†this experience would benefit most everyone. Being in the water can bring us back to being in our mother’s womb. It is like our first home. There is a lot of healing that can happen when you remember this. Yes, I would def go back in the water again!

How did you sleep the night of the photo shoot? Compared to the usual days?

I was beyond exhausted. I slept like a baby! I am glad I had nothing scheduled after our shoot.

How was Erena working with you?

I loved Erena’s energy. Very calm, very grounded, very loving. I could tell how much she loves her work and giving¬†people this unique experience. She would remind me to point my toes and not puff my cheeks out! She was very encouraging and supportive.

Would you recommend underwater transformation to other survivors or anyone?

Yes, I would absolutely recommend this experience to anyone, especially those healing cancer or with disabilities, or really anyone. Water is healing. Being witnessed is healing. Seeing yourself in a new way is healing. it is a beautiful offering. Erena is a gift!

Thank you, Willow for working with me!

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