May 10, 2019
When pro snowboarder Megan Pischke became an ambassador for the non-profit Boarding for Breast Cancer (B4BC) almost 20 years ago, it was to spread the message of health and encourage women to live active lifestyles—values she embodied on a daily basis. Then she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
B4BC, which supports women by championing prevention education, organizing outreach programs, and advocating for early detection, produced a documentary about Pischke’s story called Chasing Sunshine. It chronicles how the mother of two, yogi, and athlete embarked on her journey with confidence and sought holistic care as part of her treatment.
Service has been important to Pischke from an early age, starting as a retirement home volunteer at age nine, to mentoring young female snowboarders throughout her career. She frequently hosts B4BC retreats, and Thrive Market recently provided free memberships and pantry staples like sprouted brown rice, cashews, and coconut milk to gatherings in Aspen, Colorado and Grand Targhee, Wyoming.
The events are powerful not only for participants, but Pischke as well. “Being in the moment with like-minded women, I learn so much about myself while being able to serve others. Seeing a girl cry while snow falls on her face for the first time since her diagnosis, and understanding what that truly means to them—I feel the same thing every day!” she shares. “It’s a chance to truly experiencing gratitude and the depths of human connection, intertwined with nature.”
“It’s a chance to truly experiencing gratitude and the depths of human connection, intertwined with nature.”
A typical day of her B4BC retreats begins with yoga, breathwork, or meditation, followed by a healthy breakfast of smoothies, gluten-free oats, sprouted grains, bone broths, and vegetables.
After breakfast, it’s off to the mountains for activities like snowboarding or skiing, then following lunch, the day continues with educational discussions from doctors, nurses, integrative therapists, and other facilitators. Post-dinner, women enjoy a soothing meditation before bed.
While the scenery is idyllic and the activities are invigorating, it’s not an easy road. “Some women struggle with botched surgeries, and others with the fact that they’ve had both breasts removed. Some are grieving the loss of being able to bear and nurse children, and others grieve the loss of their identity when all of their ‘womanliness’ has been physically removed,” Pischke says. “Even the word ‘survivor’ can be a challenge, as it makes you feel like you’re hanging on by your fingernails. There’s physical recovery, which can be long and painful, and emotional trauma—fear and anxiety that needs to be dealt with.”
And even though Pischke leads retreats from the vantage point of coming out the other side, she still struggles on her own journey, too. “I can say all the old anxiety triggers have quieted for the most part, but in some ways it’s a lifelong healing process,” she shares. “I work in a world of young women who are inexplicably diagnosed with cancer, and some have left this world due to the disease. That’s hard, and heartbreaking.” Despite its challenges, cancer has taught Pischke to not only love herself more than ever, but extend that love to others. “What I’ve gone through gives me insight and compassion for all the women I’ve met and the ones I’ve yet to meet. We shine on.”
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