by Rev. Edie Weinstein
A few months ago, I reconnected with a dear friend from Willingboro High School with whom I haven’t spoken for 30 years. Along with Abe came the gift of his wife Andi Morris…a definite Goddess Sister and kindred spirit. A Center City Philadelphia area Realtor, Andi is also a two time breast cancer survivor, who shares, “I was diagnosed when I was 37 and then when I was 43, I was re-diagnosed.” With the initial diagnosis, she was frightened and shocked. With the second diagnosis, came anger, “because I was working so hard to get beyond breast cancer.” Andi has a full, rich life that includes travel, returning to work and volunteering for an amazing organization called Living Beyond Breast Cancer. An active board member and dynamic public speaker, testified in front of the FDA in favor of Silicone Implants for breast cancer survivors.
She recognizes how fortunate she is to have had phenomenal treatment and solid support systems. This delightful woman with a contagious laugh seems to have a ‘there but for the grace’ attitude and expresses, that “It has been my passion and pleasure to give back in any way I can.”
I came face to face with this thriver, (by my definition: someone who has surpassed survivor mode and reaches out to help others because of his or her own experience) who has made such a difference in the lives of so many through her fund-raising and educational endeavors, when I joined a group of 200 some brave souls who gathered on the steps of Philadelphia Museum of Art, on May 17, 2009. This same structure made famous by the pounding feet and upraised arms of Rocky was the holy ground for a gentler endeavor; the 7th Annual Yoga Unites For Living Beyond Breast Cancer. More than $100,000 was raised on a day that carried wind gusts which threatened to blow us into the Schuylkill River.
When I arrived, the gray over-hanging clouds loomed ominously and the steps were already puddled and slippery. Finding a space to lay down my purple ‘magic carpet’ as I sometimes refer to my mat, it snuggled in between others already in place. As I stood from the next-to- top tier of the steps and gazed downward, I beheld with delight, a rainbow sea of mats and people gathered. All ages, body sizes, levels of yoga-expertise, some familiar faces from the yoga community (which I have come to know has some of the biggest hearts in the world) some new companions in the mission to support survivors in re-creating their lives…family of choice and chance, we were becoming.
Her team of friends that surrounded her during the yoga event, is coyly called “Andi’s Girls” which is a double entendre’ in reference to her reconstructed breasts that she affectionately refers to as “the girls”. She adds, “It keeps me laughing.”
Edie Weinstein-Moser is a free-lance journalist, speaker, social worker and interfaith minister. Her website is www.liveinjoy.org