Breasts and how one bellydancer survived breast cancer 
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This October Give Yourself Some TLC    
By Yvette Cowles
Did you know that there are an estimated 2.5 million people in the UK today who have had a cancer diagnosis?  It affects us all directly or indirectly.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. As many of you will know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, a worldwide annual campaign to highlight the importance of breast awareness, education and research.  One in eight women will get breast cancer in their lifetime, but thanks to early detection and improved treatment now more than 85% survive beyond five years.  And that statistic is improving all the time.

I am a belly dancer who has had breast cancer three times and I am currently living with secondary breast cancer. I was first diagnosed 19 years ago and throughout surgery, a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and hair loss, radiotherapy and on-going treatment, have continued to teach and perform.  Belly dance – and my fellow dancers – has been my lifeline.  While the NHS has taken care of my medical treatment, dance has been and will always be the best medicine for the soul.

Dance Yourself Happy - ladies with veils
Where there’s a will, there’s always a way.  When I lost my hair I resorted to wigs, false eyelashes and tattooed eyebrows.  When I lost my breasts I learned how to fake it with padding and some clever costuming.  Post-surgery I devised my own programme of upper body exercises including snake arms and ripples to get my mobility back. 
And having a goal has always helped me to get through the bad times.  When I was being treated for cancer for the second time, I was a member of Jo Wise’s Johara Dance Company.  I was determined that the show would go on with me in it, and thanks to having that goal to work towards, plus the support and kindness of the other company members, it did!
During rehearsal for Hoochie Coochie Girls - Johara Dance Co
More recently, I have been touring Sequins On My Balcony, a one-woman show based on my experiences, blending comedy, drama and dance.  It’s been a great opportunity to develop new skills, meet up with dancers around the country, support local cancer charities and Just Because,  a charity set up to help cancer sufferers in Egypt, and, hopefully, change people’s perceptions of both cancer and belly dance.  It’s something that I probably would never have contemplated doing if I hadn’t been undergoing on-going treatment and decided, ‘Why not? What have I got to lose?’
I am currently working on my second show, and devising and running JWAAD Teacher Training Courses with Jo Wise, Kay Taylor and Gwen Booth. I am also taking part in a BBC 1 documentary series about cancer in Britain today.  The director asked Kay Taylor why she made long-term plans with me, ‘given my condition!'  Kay replied, ‘Why wouldn’t I? Any one of us could be run over by a bus tomorrow.’  A great riposte!  None of us knows what the future holds and all we can do is be grateful for what we’ve got now and really make the most of it.
Give Yourself Some TLC
I have learned from experience how important it is to look after yourself. And that includes getting into the habit of checking your breasts regularly. There is no special technique and you don’t need any training.  Just follow the TLC method as recommended by Breast Cancer Now.
TOUCH your breasts.  Can you feel anything unusual?
LOOK for changes. Is there any change in shape or texture?
CHECK anything unusual with your doctor. 
9 out of 10 breast lumps are not cancerous but if you have any concerns at all get it checked out. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the greater chance of successful treatment and cure. 
So keep up with the TLC as well as the belly dancing!
Wow! - What a read!
A great big THANK YOU to Yvette for taking time to write this informative, uplifting article and reminding us to look after ourselves - thanks again from all of us xxx
To keep up with events and news - check out her website here:
Not just a performer, teacher and author  of Belly Dancing and Beating the Odds, Yvette is an amazing and dedicated fund and awareness raiser for breast cancer charities and a fabulous, fun, positive person.  
 Let's support Yvette!  If you do nothing more please remember TLC.

Her next performance of Sequins on my Balcony  is in London, on Friday 23rd October to mark Breast Cancer Awareness month and proceeds are going to a local breast cancer charity  -  Cancerkin - so do go if you can!  I have seen the show and thoroughly recommend it. It is funny, moving and challenges how you think about cancer.  If you can go please do - you won't be sorry!
Yvette Has A Brilliant Uplifting Book
This book is the inspiring true life story of how, when Yvette was faced with the long-term illness of breast cancer, she refused to give up.

It is an easy to read, uplifting book for all. It talks of how her love of belly dance pushed her on to shimmy her way through the ordeals that cancer had her face. 

This book is truly a great read - WE LOVED IT HERE AT ZARA'S ZOUK! It's an ideal read to take with you on a short holiday or for curling up with on a bad weather day or a lovely gift. Dare we remind you that Christmas is just around the corner? 
Buy Now
Want to go pink for 23rd Oct or any other day?
 Here are some ideas
And a big thank you to our lovely models xx
We hope you enjoyed this month's newsletter and found it informative! A big THANK YOU to our guest writer Yvette. 

Also, thanks to our costume models: Renata, Monica, Francesca and Azin and to Evie for taking the photos.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed the newsletter please share the bellydance love and and pass it on :D 

Love and Shimmies, 
Zara and Sandra xxx
Copyright © 2015 Zara's Zouk, All rights reserved.

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