Pole Dancing and Breast Cancer. It’s Like A Thing…..
Breast Cancer Empowerment – A Unique Approach
Where do I draw my inspiration from for these posts? I’ll tell you. It’s the badass women that I meet. We connect on Instagram, at events, through mutual friends, family, and work. They are everywhere. But once in I while I stumble upon something really unique. And I feel compelled to write about it and share it with all of you. So here it goes.
I never thought I’d say pole dancing and breast cancer in the same sentence. I mean, one is so sexy and fun. The other is….not.
Exhibit A: Sally Wolf, NYC
Exhibit A: Sally Wolf, NYC
This girl is such a gem. Where do I begin? Let’s start with how we met. WeWork invited me to help spearhead their #WeThrive Meetup group for WeWork. I had never even attended a Meetup and here I was leading the way for these incredibly special ladies. It was a little intimidating, but Sally attended my first meeting and she reminded me why I was involved in the first place. Community. Sisterhood. Friendship. There’s a bond between breast cancer thrivers that is like this unspoken word. We lock eyes and there’s this “I totally get you” vibe between us. My sisters, I’m sure you know exactly what I mean. Sally has been to every single one of my meetings. She’s beautiful, smart and she has stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. So what does pole dancing have to do with all of this? I’ll tell you. Sally started pole dancing about 12 ½ years ago. She believes it has gotten her through some pretty tough times and continues to be a happy place for her, an outlet. I had the honor of chatting with her about it, so check this out. Also be sure to visit her website , YouTube channel (she’s got some incredible inspirational speeches there), and give her some Instagram love @sallyshoots. On top of everything else, she’s an amazing photographer who tries to find the joy in every day. Love me some Sally.
Why did you start pole dancing in the first place?
I was really into gymnastics as a child, specifically the uneven bars. Pole is the first thing that reminded me of gymnastics. I felt my inner child awakening. Kind of like how kids swing around on the poles on the subway. Over time my favorite part of class shifted and I became enamored with the dancing. As someone who is pretty cerebral, learning to express myself through my body was huge for me.
How did pole dancing help you through your breast cancer experience?
I felt incredibly lucky to have an incredibly safe space to get in touch with a body that was literally being reconstructed over the course of a year. I have been a student at Sheila Kelley Factor in NYC for over a decade and even long before cancer, it was about far more than dance. My dance teachers haven’t simply taught me how to dance; they have taught me how to fully feel my feelings, how to open my heart, and how to shed the layers and crack through the seemingly concrete walls I’d developed in the three decades before I ever set foot in the studio. Learning to be emotionally naked has been an incredible gift, and breakthroughs from class often inspire me far beyond the walls of the studio. And during cancer that was particularly true. My teacher, Erin, created a sanctuary in which I felt safe exploring and reconnecting with a body that often did not feel like my own. Having lost both my breasts and all of my hair, often the two body parts most closely connected with our womanhood, it was especially profound to have a class dedicated to feminine movement. One of my favorite moments, probably the most special moment I have ever shared with a friend, happened in class merely hours after having my head shaved. Being newly bald, I felt more vulnerable than ever before. By moving meditation, the point when everyone else began moving freely around the room, I felt paralyzed and lonely in my baldness. But I looked up and quickly realized I was far from alone. Erin sat facing me and encouraged me to touch my head, never breaking eye contact, holding space for me to explore my changing body, staying put and fully present until I found the courage to comply and strength to surrender. A full year and a half later, I still remember the power and beauty of that moment. I am certain I was able to accept my temporary baldness far faster than would have otherwise been possible because I had such a safe space to immediately explore it.
Exhibit B: Kim, Chicago
OK, you guys how cute is Kim. And she’s got this rockin body. And that’s right you guessed it, she’s also a thriver! My love affair with Kim started on Instagram. I can’t even remember who started following who, it doesn’t even matter. I’m just so glad we’ve connected. When I sent her an IG message and asked if she’d like to be one of my subjects for this piece, she was all in. Thank you, Kim, for taking me up on my invitation. Similar to Sally, her passion for pole dancing came before her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Oh and please follow her here on Instagram. She will add sunshine to your feed, I promise.
Talk to me about your breast cancer journey and how it relates to your pole dancing.
I was always active and had an athletic build. I decided to try pole, in fact, my husband encouraged me to take an intro class. I loved it! I was diagnosed with breast cancer on a Monday and I went pole dancing that Tuesday. The women in my group were loving and amazing, and honestly, they really got me through.
What would you say to another breast cancer thriver who’s considering pole dancing, but is afraid to try it?
It is so empowering. Pole dancing makes you feel strong and confident in your body. Don’t let breast cancer stop you from being a strong and powerful woman. Women in all shapes and sizes enjoy pole. It’s a true sisterhood, a place to express yourself and feel confident.
And there you go. Can you say breast cancer EMPOWERMENT? Wow. I think I’d better consider taking an intro to pole dancing myself!