emilee with giant teddy bear1. How did you feel when you first were diagnosed with cancer

I felt like my world had just collapsed. I thought it was a joke, and that someone had made a mistake. I already had cancer as a child, so I was a little angry and in shock that this could happen to me. To be honest, I never even gave it a thought that I could get cancer again.

2. What inspired you to take the action(s) or steps towards healing?

What inspired to me take action towards healing was the thought that I was going to die alone and angry. I had more emotional healing to deal with than the physical part.

There was a moment where the lightbulb just went off, or I call it the shift when something inside of me said “it’s your time – it’s your time to shine, it’s your time to change, and it’s your time to make the choice.” I gave myself the permission to heal, to love myself, and in the end that is what ultimately saved me.

That’s my story and that is why I tell people that “cancer saved my life”. Not everyone has the same story, but maybe there is something inside of us that is causing stress, and stress causes cancer. I didn’t want to die, so I did everything from hiring a shaman to seeing a traditional Chinese medicine doctor to cook bark for me. I tried it all. I learned a lot on this journey and I am stronger because of it.

emilee doing a handstand on a paddle board on a lake3. How has this entire healing process changed your outlook on life?

My outlook on life is different now. I use to get upset easy and let people ruin my day, hurt my feelings, and I was afraid to be myself. I now see that we only get one life to live, so we might as well live it to the fullest. It’s our life so we should do what makes us happy and stop asking for permission from others to do the things that make us the most happy.

4. What advice would you share with others who found themselves battling cancer?

Cancer saved my life. Trust the process. I am so glad that I had cancer. I went through all of the emotions: shock, anger, depression, loneliness, afraid to die, and it wasn’t until I accepted the fact that I might die that I truly started to live my life. The happier I became and the more I healed my wounds from the past… I felt more free and happy. Again, this was my story and I know everyone has their own. For me, it was the emotional part of healing that I had the hardest time with. The physical healing came easier for me because I was yoga and pilates teacher and enjoyed physical fitness. There were days when it was hard to get up and move my body, but I knew that walking would save my life and that is what I started with: a simple walk.

emilee garfield at an OSK eventMy advice is to live your best life story and make the ending as how you picture it. I said to myself even if I am going to die, I am going to die happy. I shocked all of my doctors and I survived. Not only have I survived, but I am thriving and I have been able to put cancer behind me for once and all. I use my story to help give others hope. So, trust the process and remember that progress is progress. Give yourself and your body time to heal and try not to be too hard on yourself. There are hard days and they come and go, but there are good days too. Try to see the good in the bad — and I know that sounds cliche, but it’s absolutely true.

Never give up, because life is worth fighting for.

emilee at the hospital

emilee at the training room