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Positive attitude a key to battling breast cancer

Partners for life: Lesley RonsBrown husbJoe Eddy find joy comnpanionship through comminterests.  |  SUPPLIED PHOTO

Partners for life: Lesley Ronson Brown and husband Joe Eddy find joy and comnpanionship through common interests. | SUPPLIED PHOTO

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Updated: October 2, 2012 10:17AM

When a person is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, psychiatrist and author Elisabeth Kubler-Ross stated that they go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.

Wheaton resident Lesley Ronson Brown, a certified fitness instructor, has gone through the grief cycle twice in her life.

“You feel like your body has betrayed you when you get a big, bad disease,” Brown said. “When I got diabetes 32 years ago, I went through the Kubler-Ross betrayal steps. I went through it again when notified that I had cancer, but to a lesser degree, so that made it easier for me to deal with. I figured that since I had successfully managed diabetes, I could successfully manage cancer, too.”

Brown has been a yoga, Pilates and strength training instructor for the past 15 years. She has taught at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton, the Wheaton Park District and the Esplanade Fitness Center in Downers Grove. She teaches about 100 women a week at different locations. Throughout her battle with cancer, she never stopped teaching classes.

Brown was diagnosed with cancer in May 2006. She has since undergone a lumpectomy, three rounds of chemotherapy, radiation treatment and hormonal therapy. She is currently undergoing treatment for cancer on her lymph nodes.

“Everyone who is diagnosed with cancer goes on a different journey. Cancer can exacerbate your characteristics,” Brown said. “I am cheerful by nature. I tend to move forward. For people who are disconnected or don’t have a strong support system, cancer can be a tough ride.”

Brown’s family and friends have helped her during her battle with cancer.

Her husband, Joe Eddy Brown, is a student teacher supervisor. Brown said they met because of yoga and a favorite author.

“I was teaching an aerobics class at the Wheaton Park District,” Brown said. “Joe Eddy was teaching yoga. I asked if he could help me add a yoga cool down to my class. While I was talking to him, I learned that he had illustrated some Americanisms to be used for translations of a book by Tom Robbins entitled ‘Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.’ At that time, Tom Robbins was my favorite author. I sent Joe Eddy a thank you note for helping me with the yoga cool down. He called me the next day and kept calling me every day after that. We were married six months later.”

Yoga also has helped Brown during her fight against cancer.

“Yoga teaches deep breathing and meditation,” she said. “Restorative yoga quiets your mind from scary thoughts. Yoga helps to reduce toxins, and it helps you to relax.”

Brown’s daughter, Alexxe, 21, has gone on cancer walks with her.

“We walk in celebration of cancer survivors and to honor those who are no longer with us,” Brown said. “Fundraising is critical because research takes money.”

During her battle with cancer, Brown has seen new drugs come on the market that were not available when she was first diagnosed.

“When I was re-diagnosed in May 2008, there was a new drug called Avastin,” Brown said. “It makes cancer cells unable to get nutrition. It has been used to fight lung cancer.”

Brown said that not being a worrier by nature has helped her deal with disease.

“Worrying causes extreme stress, which isn’t good for our body, mind or spirit,” she said. “It keeps you in a constant flight-or-fight syndrome which doesn’t contribute to health, unless you are being chased by a tiger and then it most certainly does!.”

“But the tigers that chase us these days tend to be chronic situations that take little or big bites out of us constantly, instead of one big chase that is over and done with. The mind’s job is to think, so you might as well give it something beneficial to think about as often as you can.”

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