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Fighting the Good Fight

NOTE: The following was written by Leslie Talisman, owner of Lila Jolla Studios in La Jolla, California. In addition to instructing those in recovery, Leslie is a *** cancer survivor herself. In recognition of *** Cancer Awareness Month, Peak Pilates has asked Leslie to share her experiences regarding teaching Pilates to those in treatment, as well as some details from her own recovery process.

In recognition of her contribution, Peak Pilates will donate $500 Leslie’s charity of choice, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, in memory of her late surgeon, Dr. Jean Petrek.

One in seven women will be diagnosed with *** cancer. The latest studies show that women who reduce their exposure to stress, eat a diet low in fat and sugar and exercise regularly can greatly reduce their chance of cancer reoccurring.
As a Pilates and Yoga studio owner, teacher and *** cancer survivor, I personally know that mind/body fitness methods can assist in both overall wellness and cancer rehabilitation.

As a young child I was introduced to Pilates by my dance teacher as a method to stay flexible and conditioned while not on the ice training as an elite figure skater. I was recommended to The Original Joseph Pilates Studio in Manhattan, New York.

Today as the owner of Lila Jolla Yoga and Pilates Dynamics, I’ve created an Eco-Green and toxic-free studio environment. The beauty and functionality of our Peak Pilates equipment compliments our ocean views.

This month I returned from my Oncologist at the City of Hope where I was given an all clear. I am cancer-free for a fourth year! It’s never easy to make the two-hour journey north to the hospital but I do it to insure that I am receiving the best possible care.

I go through testing every four months; it’s not an enjoyable process, but my outcome has been completely favorable. Through research I sought out the best medical care for my personal situation and learned to navigate through the medical system with the help of a supportive family and husband.

In 2004 I was diagnosed from a routine mammogram which showed evidence of DCIS cancer. I never actually felt a lump, but had calcifications. The diagnosis process was lengthy due to additional tests required to make sure the cancer had not spread.

After three months, I finally arrived in the office of Dr. Jean Petrek, whom I chose as my surgeon at Sloan Kettering Memorial Cancer Center in New York City. I went through two surgeries with Dr. Petrek followed by 12 weeks of radiation treatment at the Huntsman Cancer Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The radiation treatments depleted my energy entirely. It was my goal (along with my doctors and my husband, Kent) to get back my physical strength and stamina. During the radiation process I forced myself to go to Yoga classes so I would be able to delve into meditation and return to Pilates stronger and more connected to both my physical and emotional sides.

Pilates took me into the next phase of returning to my peak athleticism. Pilates returned the natural range of motion and flexibility in my chest and shoulders while developing my core and legs. This helped me return to snowboarding and enabled me to conquer the deep powder days of early spring – which was a huge milestone for me!

Our studio offers special Pilates and Yoga classes geared toward individuals of all ages who are in any phase of their cancer experience. Pilates students with cancer can take Deluxe Mat Class or Reformer sessions individually tailored to their situation which improves the quality of life. Many have come from destinations other than California, sharing their individual cancer experience.

Everyone at Peak Pilates has been extremely supportive of my endeavors. The Pilates and Cancer studies they are collaborating with at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the “Get Real & Heel *** Cancer Program,” has been an incentive for me to continue to serve this aspect of the population, “with more insight to follow.”

I am so fortunate to have my health back. I love that I can be a catalyst to inspire others helping them both physically and emotionally. I face each day with gratitude for my good health and the support I have received. I love the challenge of being a studio owner spreading optimal health and wellness to all.

We only really have one choice when confronted with a cancer diagnosis, which is to fight the good fight and keep healthy through an exercise regime that keeps the mind and body connected. Pilates does just that!
– Leslie Talisman