Breast Cancer does not simply prove itself to remain a disease untamed. In fact, many survivors may feel helpless to a diagnosis that seems to exist just to tame them. Perceiving a constant reminder of illness, survivors of breast cancer face many emotional and mental challenges of feeling less than desirable, attractive, and/or detached from their bodies after treatment. In fact, one study reports that appearance-related issues resulting from breast cancer treatment is a major source of disruption of a woman’s sense of self which affects self-esteem and areas of social functioning. If you’re reading this and this sounds familiar…if any of this resonates with why you don’t feel whole or beautiful anymore: it’s time to get your groove back. It’s time to throw on your shoes, makeup, and whatever makes you feel good. It’s time for a play out of Lady Gaga’s book: It’s time…to just dance.
Just dance, gonna be okay.
Dance has been shown to be an excellent mood booster and an accelerator towards wellness for survivors. Next to body image, dance movement has significant positive effects on mood, stress, and anxiety. Within the scientific community specifically, there is evidence that an abundance of mood-improving chemicals are released within the body while dancing. Once released, these chemicals help improve one’s state of mind. So much so, that even one living room dance session can reduce an episode of depression.
Just dance, spin that record babe.
But you don’t need to just dance to feel better. You also need to just dance to live longer, and movement with other people does just that. Dancing offers an opportunity for community, connectedness, and friendship – all forms of social support that increase longevity. Dancing also offers pure exhilaration generated by a group of people moving together to great music. How does one create this community? First, it is important to be proactive in inquiring about dance groups and classes for other survivors in your local area or virtually. This can be done in-person or online searching via social media. If this doesn’t yield results, you could consider creating your own dance community. Second, keep an open mind. You probably won’t be Lady Gaga herself, and perhaps you’re no Misty Copeland on the dance floor either. But, the art of dancing is for everyone. You don’t have to have any expectation or look a certain way. Accept your life and body for what it is and where it is- beautiful and unique. And just dance.
Just dance, gonna be okay.
With a new community, also comes new boundaries and new ways of taking care of yourself. Survivors are tasked with not just physical treatments, but undergoing self-care rituals in order to take care of their mind too. For this reason, it is important to make sure your new dance community offers a non-judgmental space. After all, it will be a space where you will not only be supported…but where you can also support others. Where you can share your own story and wisdom along your journey. Where you can be hope to other survivors who feel like they have none.
Dance, dance, just, just dance.
There is no doubt that dancing and remaining physically active can make a huge difference in how survivors respond to treatment. But now that we’ve discussed how dancing impacts survivors, how do survivors select what kind of dancing? Without further ado, we present to you…none other than…
If you’ve ever been near a gym, church, health fair, or the like…then you’ve probably seen (or heard) a Zumba class. This Colombian dance style incorporates international influences including Caribbean dance styles like “soca”, South American dances like “meringue” and “samba”, Indian styles from Bollywood films, and even martial arts. Zumba is also one of the most engaging, and fun workout classes you can participate in. In fact, each year, over 12 million people all over the world take Zumba classes.
So, why is it so popular and where did it come from?
Zumba was created by the famous choreographer and fitness instructor, Alberto “Beto” Perez, in the 1990s. According to NPR, the story of Zumba started the moment that Perez forgot his music while teaching an aerobics class. When he didn’t have time to double back and retrieve it, he improvised, using a combination of salsa and merengue tapes he happened to have on him. Instead of strict repetition counting, he improvised his class with a perfect mix of dance and aerobics that kept his own community moving AND having fun! And look how far it’s come. To date, there are Zumba-certified instructors in more than 125 countries around the world.
So, what are you waiting on? No matter what age, shape or size you are, it’s time to put your hair up and throw your inhibitions to the wind. It’s time to move those hips while relishing in appreciation of another day. It’s time…to just dance.
Spin that record babe!