Be A Part of Something Bigger Than Yourself

About a month ago a few mothers from my mom and baby class approached me about helping to organize a fundraiser for their friend, a local Charlestown mom who is battling cancer. They asked me if I remembered her from attending a few of these classes with me. I didn't recognize her name and searched my brain trying to remember a woman who fit her description. Surely I would have noticed a student with cancer and her newborn. As they continued to talk it hit me. I knew exactly who she was. My heart dropped heavily into my stomach. I had no ideas she had cancer. Tears welled up in my throat.

Kristen Polizzotto had came to my class with her young son Cayden a few months prior. She had very short hair and I remember thinking to myself that she must be very hip and cool. I had no idea she was ill. She made her way through class with her friends laughing, shaking and working just as hard (if not harder) as everyone in the room. She was strong. Her son was adorable. She didn't skip a beat, she didn't rest, I didn't catch her taking any breaks. Kristen never mentioned to me before or after my class that she was sick. She had a fierce quietness about her. I don't think we even really spoke, yet now months later she has taught me some of the biggest lessons I've ever learned. 

Just think about how many people you meet in a day. Every interaction you have the opportunity to be let into someone else's life. We see what's on the surface but so often we never look or take the time to go past it. Imagine how comforting and helpful we could all be if we slowed down, listened and made more effort. Some weeks I teach over 100 different people around the city. I am guilty of not always taking the time to be as present as I should be. Getting to better know ALL of the people I have the honor of working with. Kristen's story is not only inspiring because of the incredible battle she is bravely fighting but because of the huge wakeup call it was for me. You really never know what people are going through. Always practice kindness. Always approach new faces with open hearts and listening ears. Take the time to get to know those around you. Here it was a typical class for me, yet in a room of 15 moms was one extraordinary woman fighting for her life, fighting to remain a mother to her 5 month old son and I had absolutely no idea. 

I am HONORED to help share Kristen's story with you and let you know about the fundraiser I'm teaching this weekend in tribute to her. Plus below I will share how you can help Kristen and her family even if you don't live nearby. 

Last November, Kristen and her husband Bryan were blessed with the news that they were pregnant with their first child. As Kristen proceeded through her pregnancy she realized that her symptoms of feeling weak and tired were more than just normal symptoms of an expectant mother. On May 14th, 2015 (when Kristen was 28 weeks pregnant) she learned that she had B-Cell Lymphoma. This extremely aggressive form of lymphoma was identified as a Stage IV cancer, traveling to her ovaries, kidneys, spleen and liver. Before delivering the baby, Kristen’s doctors decided to begin rounds of chemo immediately in order to treat her lymphoma as quickly and as safely as possible.

For the next few months Kristen fought HARD. Very slowly but surely, Kristen showed small signs of improvement as her delivery date approached. Kristen delivered her son Cayden James Polizzotto on July 15th, 2015. Following the celebration of Cayden, Kristen’s fight continued. PET scans & additional rounds of chemo immediately followed. This was a trying time for Kristen trying to balance her battle with newfound motherhood.

Kristen continued to show improvement and in early October, PET scans & biopsy results indicated that Kristen had defeated the disease in her body.

On November 30th, 2015, just a week after a clean PET scan Kristen learned that her lymphoma had returned. Not only had it returned, it returned in her brain. Her chemo treatments began immediately and she will continue her battle into the new year in order for her to once again reach remission.

If you live in the Boston area, please consider attending the special fundraiser Pilates Fusion class I'm teaching in honor of Kristen this Saturday at 2pm at ASANA Charlestown. This class is open to everyone. You can even bring your baby if they are under one years old. Together as a community we will sweat and show our strength, in support of a family going through so much. The suggested donation for class is $50. Please give whatever you can. 100% of the proceeds will go to Kristen and her family to pay for medical and other expenses. For more information and to register for this class, click here. 

We are also holding an open raffle at ASANA to help raise additional funds. Starting this Thursday (2/18) in the afternoon until the fundraiser we will be selling $10 raffle tickets at the front desk of the studio. Simply stop in during studio hours to purchase tickets and be entered to win some great local prizes. You do not need to attend the actual fundraiser to participate. All winners will be contacted via email or phone if they win. The raffle will be done at the conclusion of the fundraiser class on Saturday. 

Raffle prizes include:

- One Month Unlimited to ASANA Charlestown

- 5 Class Card to Charlestown Cycling Club

- $50 Gift Card to Element Day Spa

- $50 Gift Card to Pier 6

- $50 Gift Card to Mockingbird Store

- $100 Gift Card to Crate Escape

- Gift Basket to Zumes 

- And several more 

Thank you to all of the local organizations who donated! If you are a local company that would like to contribute to this raffle, it's not too late. Please let me know and we would be thrilled to add you to our list. 

Finally and perhaps the most important, if Kristen's story has touched you, please consider visiting her Go Fund Me Page to donate to her family. No matter where you live, it's one small way to help a wonderful person and her family during this most difficult time. Please take my word for it.

Thanks for reading this very long post! I'm nervous to teach on Saturday. I don't know how I will hold it together. However I'm comforted by the fact that we will all be together as a community, to help each other through and show our support.