As a cancer survivor, it frustrates the heck out of me to see and hear how rabidly judgmental people are to those, such as Angelina Jolie, who are proactive in their actions. For so long, women have fought to have the right to do what they feel is best with their own bodies….and so, when I read comments from fellow yogis about how ignorant Angelina Jolie is, it bothers me tremendously. What bothers me even more, is that as yogis in a dedicated yoga practice, we are taught to be compassionate and non-judgmental….so why are people, in one of my favorite yoga studios, being so judgmental when they have never walked in “cancer” shoes?
I have been a vegetarian and on a plant based diet since I was 13 years old. I have been active and spiritual most of my life and can say that I am truly happy. Food was never an issue for me. So, several years ago, when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it was a surprise. I was lucky to find the cancer early and am eternally grateful to the doctors and oncologists who took such great care of me. Where would I be had I chosen to ignore everything and not “cut out” certain body parts? When you are in survival mode, you do what you have to do to survive…..and certainly, Angelina Jolie, being the daughter and granddaughter of women who died from ovarian cancer, made the right decision for herself and her children. She experienced losing a parent to such a deteriorating disease and she chose not to let her children experience the possibility of such pain. Why is that “bad” or “misguiding” to her fans? In my opinion, it’s just the opposite…..I feel she is being proactive about her health, knowledgeable and she is eliminating the possibility of such suffering…..this, to me, sends the message of empowerment to her fans.
Anyone who has sat next to any cancer patient and watched the process from diagnosis to death would never sit in such judgement. I’ve lost family members and friends to cancer…..I’ve lost dear people in my life that helped me through my own battle with the disease and I can truly say that there was no “imbalance” in who they were…..they were beautiful, inspirational and amazing people. So, for those who make comments such as “But if you develop cancer, you can heal, learn, change your ways that brought you to un-wellness.”, on Facebook, I would ask that you remove yourself from the seat of judgment and place yourself in the seat of tolerance, compassion and understanding…..tenants in the Eightfold Path of Buddhism and perhaps, just perhaps, put your yoga practice into play…..after all, ahimsa not only encompasses non-violence, it also encompasses non-judgement.