This week’s guest on DJ Breast Cancer is Jaclyn Alterwein. Jaclyn is a3 year breast cancer survivor passionately spreading her message of #AnnualMammosSaveLives Now, she is not just a breast cancer survivor... She is a whole lot more than that too... mother, dancer, women’s advocate, fitness professional, Certified Holistic Health Coach (through IIN), former New York Knicks City Dancer/Captain/Choreographer, entertainment producer, and friend.
Like my own journey with breast cancer, Jaclyn’s story begins with her own mother’s diagnosis. I often start my story with my mom’s story. They are very different journeys, but I always feel fortunate that my mom’s early diagnosis made me aware and more focused on the potential of breast cancer. Jaclyn went from not knowing anyone with breast cancer to having this very important person, her mom, diagnosed. From her mother’s diagnosis, she went on to face her own diagnosis, two friends and her sister. It felt as though one bombshell after another. Jaclyn’s sister found herself with aches and pains in her breast and confided in Jaclyn that she thought it was likely just “sister pains” and questioned if she was feeling what Jaclyn was feeling. Jaclyn encouraged her sister to see a doctor, get a mammogram and ultimately was also diagnosed with breast cancer.
Jaclyn recalls the initial mammogram picking up suspicious calcifications. Several biopsies later, Jaclyn was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ, Stage 0, the earliest stage of diagnosis, only something that an annual mammogram could have alerted to the need for more tests. Not even a self breast exam could have detected the cancerous cells since they was still contained to the ducts. All of this experience has made Jaclyn an advocate for other women to get their annual mammograms. She is a cheerleader for others and has often been told “I went to my mammogram because of you”. Most times, women report back that there were no issues, but that peace of mind is such a great thing! She has had other women tell her they are scared and she has helped to talk to them, to ease their fears.
All of my experience has led me to my current path, according to Jaclyn. She truly believes in the phrase “everything happens for a reason”. Through her own breast cancer journey she found her own voice! Connecting with other women during Cool down, using the exercise circle as opportunity Jaclyn stresses the importance of annual mammograms. Once typically very private, Jaclyn has worked on using her own story to connect with others.
Jaclyn grew up understanding the importance of exercise. Her own father was a physician who was passionate about finding a cure for cancer, and eventually turned to wellness. Jaclyn studied exercise science in college, while dancing professionally through college. Somewhere over time, Jaclyn discusses how it was difficult to find time to fit it all in. However, right before cancer, Jaclyn discusses how group fitness led her through treatments and provided her a sanctuary from cancer. Jaclyn firmly believes in the Mind/body connection, connecting through music and rhythm.
The tip that Jaclyn gives is “One Day at a time!” She was all Go Go Go, and found that cancer forced her to slow down, and one of her coping mechanisms was to take one day at a time, take one thing at a time; can’t pre-anticipate. It’s a practice, like yoga, a muscle that you have to work. Take a listen to her story and how breast cancer has impacted, inspired and motivated her to do more.