The Heroines Choir

by Vicki on May 4, 2015

Marilyn and ChoirPink-Link member, Marilyn Van Houten is a member of The Heroines Choir. I’m a Facebook friend and have seen her post photos of this group and asked if she would like to write a guest post. Not only did she write a post, her friend, Alice who founded the group, also wrote a post. I’ve combined the two articles here.

From Marilyn:

I FOUND MY VOICE

Three years ago in March I attended the first THC (THE HEROINES CHOIR) practice.  I was impressed that besides the breast cancer woman, we had a professional voice teacher and a founder/artistic director who was full of energy and enthusiasm! She started the choir after losing a very good friend to the disease.

I immediately felt a sense of comfort in the chorus, bringing forth childhood memories of singing in school & church and with my musical family.  After the first practice I knew this was my new passion & mission, to help promote THC as a fun & therapeutic activity to help breast cancer survivors become thrivers!

Just 7 short months later THE HEROINES CHOIR was performing in front of big crowds of breast cancer supporters and survivors.  Every time we performed I felt the tremendous endorphin rush of the stage but also experienced the excitement and pleasure of the audience enjoying the songs as much as we did! But I saw something in their teary eyes beyond enjoyment; we were showing them they can not only survive breast cancer but learn new things, thrive & have fun again!

Although my own untrained voice had been damaged by the harsh chemo/radiation of triple negative breast cancer I began to learn how breathing and chi gong (incorporated into the beginning of each rehearsal) could help me despite the residuals of treatment. If you have experienced chemo brain you may be wondering how we memorize the lyrics and melodies.  The research shows, singing use’s all parts of the brain.   They are no excuses, we each do our best, and we all are learning to sing together, becoming so close that our heart beats begin to synchronize through our harmony!

On May 9th will be my 10 yr. CANCERTHRIVERVERSARY (stage 2B triple negative breast cancer) I am celebrating as a “Model of Hope” for the Day of Caring for breast cancer education & awareness.

From Alice, founder of The Heroines Choir:

Cancer, like any other life threatening trauma, changes your perspective about life indelibly. Some remain defined by it and others confront their mortality and find a new way of living often driven by appreciation. The latter serve as the basis for our very special support group, The Heroines Choir. We don’t deny that the stages of anger, denial, etc. are important to recognize. However, we do adhere to the idea that eventually one must stand up and fight courageously only to ultimately celebrate this amazing roller coaster ride we call life. We gather not to discuss our ailments and treatments, but to challenge chemo brain with new learning experiences that generate synaptic growth. To oxygenate our systems with proven breathing techniques creating an inhospitable environment for new cancer cells to grow. To fulfill childhood dreams of being onstage and inspiring thousands of victims to become victors and to fully enjoy ourselves in an atmosphere of love and tolerance. The best part is that none of our Heroines come to us as singers. Thereby the process of learning this wonderful new skill affords clear opportunities to gauge progress and growth in the areas of mind, body and spirit. Research studies prove what we know in our hearts to be true, that singing improves wellness on many levels for many reasons.

Our sessions begin with meditation and chi gung (Chinese art of breathing) followed by vocal warm ups and training with our fabulous choir Directress, Ms. Annie Mendez. It’s amazing we get anything accomplished with all the laughing we do. But to date, we have performed throughout Miami for over 68,000 people in private and public festivals and events, small and large. We meet on Sunday afternoons in both North & South locations and all women are welcome. We understand that caregivers, family and friends share the cancer experience also and need great empowerment tools like The Heroines Choir, so, we are open all who want to learn to sing and gain control over their physical and psychological health. This program operates on donations through my non profit agency, Heroes Unite and we are always seeking support in the form of sponsorship, networking, fundraising or steering committees. I can be reached at theheroineschor@gmail.com , www.heroesunite.org

 

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We had some great exercise videos donated to Pink-Link for our October contest! The newly released Freedom2Move Home Exercise Program and DVD series uses principles of positioning to adapt the difficulty of an exercise and make it customizable to anyone- from active athletes to those who aren’t able to move at all without assistance. These concepts, which are taught to Physical Therapists and other healthcare professionals, have never been presented in quite this way, nor been as accessible from home.

Freedom2Move participants not only learn new exercises, but they also visualize through 3D graphics which muscles each exercise is targeting, and are taught how making those muscles stronger can improve function. According to its creator, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Matt Hansen, “the program is designed to liberate people from misconceptions and self-doubt about exercising, to empower them to keep moving and to feel good about doing it.” Though Freedom2Move was not created solely for patients and survivors of breast cancer, the population had a significant influence in the program’s development. One of the exercise models in the company’s first video, Nannette, is an 18 month breast cancer survivor who has found the exercises to be very beneficial during her treatment and recovery.

To enter our contest, we asked the question, “What’s your favorite thing to do to keep you moving?” Below are some of the responses we received. What’s YOUR favorite thing to do?

“My favorite thing to keep moving is taking a  long walk in the sunshine!  Unfortunately, I don’t have lots of sunshine in the northeast, so most mornings at 5:20 a.m. I jump on my stationary bicycle and ride five miles while listening to NPR!  I also have my 3 and 4 yar old grandchildren often, and they certainly keep me moving!” Melissa M., Pink-Link member

“Dancing to my favorite songs is definitely my most favorite thing to do to keep me moving!” Cat A., Pink-Link member

“My favorite thing is to have a mic in my hand, speaking and making people LAUGH!” Eileen, K., Pink-Link member

“My favorite exercise is walking out doors.  Know matter what’s going on with me mentally or physically I love to just take a walk.  Nature is so beautiful and calming.  It allows me a time out from any worries by looking at the beauty all around me.” Paula E., Pink-Link member

“While I enjoy zumba and yoga, my favorite thing is hiking or going for walks with my husband!!” Kathy H., Pink-Link member

“I enjoy walking on my incline walker and listening to books on tape while doing it.I have asthma so this a good way for me to do walking no mater what the weather.” Pam N., Pink-Link member

“My favorite thing to keep me moving is to listen to music and dance! I put on my headphones and dance around my house and I tell Siri everyday to remind me that we have to dance every day! Not only is it fun, it keeps me moving and feeing good!!” Barbra T., Pink-Link member

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Vitamin D3 and Breast Cancer

October 6, 2014

This is a Guest Post, excerpt from “Breast Choices for the Best Chances: Your Breasts, Your Life, and How YOU Can Win The Battle!” by Dr. Shawn Messonnier Research shows that most people are severely deficient in Vitamin D, even those who receive sunlight exposure. It is recommended that vitamin D3 should be a supplement […]

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What’s the Number 1 Tip You’d Tell Your Fellow Survivor?

October 6, 2014

In our August/September newsletter, I posed the question, “What’s 1 tip you’d like to tell your fellow breast cancer survivor?” I rec’d many responses so I’m highlighting some of them here. “The one tip I would like to share with people going thought cancer treatments is to allow yourself  time to heal. Rest when you are […]

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How do You Stay Empowered during Treatment?

August 17, 2014

After receiving my breast cancer diagnosis in 2004, I immersed myself in gaining knowledge about my treatment. I joined many different kinds of support groups and slowly became my own best advocate. We received 5 beautiful Breast Milagro necklaces as the prize for the Pink-Link June/July contest. To determine the winners, I asked the following question […]

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How Did You Find Your Breast Cancer?

June 7, 2014

For the Pink-Link April/May contest, we asked the question, “How did you find your breast cancer?” We received numerous responses, all of which were very interesting. The following, however, stood out to me as inspirational and educational. “How I found my breast cancer 26 years ago…of course I can never forget.  I was 31 years […]

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Did your doctor explain everything you needed to know about your breast surgery? If not, what did he/she miss?

April 4, 2014

For our March contest, I asked the question, “Did your doctor explain everything you needed to know about your breast surgery? If not, what did he/she miss?”  Boy, did I receive comments from a lot of unsatisfied survivors! This just shows me that the medical community needs to do a MUCH better job explaining the […]

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Integrative Care – The Winning Survivorship Recipe

April 3, 2014

This is a guest post by Elizabeth Fine, LAc In between treating patients at my Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine practice in Los Angeles, I really enjoy cooking for my family.  Recently, I wanted to make a great chicken soup, which I love for all of its health benefits, and when I had finally gathered all […]

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2014 New Year’s Resolutions

March 3, 2014

Every year, we receive 10 copies of Beyond Boobs Survivor Calendar, A Calendar to Live By. So, for our December contest, I asked for the top 3 New Year’s resolutions our members have been thinking about. Here are the top 10 responses we received. What are your top 3 New Year’s resolutions? 1.  Get Better […]

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The Most Important Type of Support

February 5, 2014

For our October contest, I asked the Pink-Link members to describe their most important type of support. Here are some of their responses. My most important support before,  during & after treatment has always been my husband.  He never made me feel like I was fighting alone.  I wish I could do more to show […]

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