Changed by Chance…Champion by Choice » Author, Elizabeth Barker

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    April 16, 1986, 9:49 AM

    This moment in my life unraveled years of careful planning. From that day on, I was forever changed. As if I were a pinball, I bounced around haphazardly for five merciless years, from one misfortune to another. I experienced the heartbreak of burying my daughter, the joy of pregnancy with my son, and the terror of discovering a cancer that could terminate my baby and possibly end my life. Despite these adversities, I not only survived, I thrived. I learned many life lessons, but the most valuable, the one I’d like to share with you, is - that you CAN come through dark hardships to find light, love, and happiness, but only if you make the choice to do so.

    My life may have been Changed by Chance, but I became my own Champion by Choice.

Namase Day 2015

Philly Area Yoga’s yoga festival, Namas Day, was held on Saturday April 18th in the WHYY Building. Over 300 yogis, vendors and musicians attended and participated in the festivities hosted by Mary and Jay.

Over a dozen teachers offered 12 workshops that day. A variety of vendors offered products and services to the health-conscious community, such as healthy snacks, massage, natural beauty products, essential oils, and clothing.

As a devoted yogi and also a long time, young breast cancer survivor, I was a volunteer that day, manning a booth for Living Beyond Breast Cancer. LBBC has a great respect for the holistic healing power of a yoga practice. We had a booth to raise awareness of organization to help those who are touched by a diagnosis of breast cancer.

And, to promote a BIG yoga event -“Yoga on the Steps”- coming up this weekend on Sunday May 17th.
LBBC’s YOTS is the biggest annual outdoor yoga festival in the city! It is held each year on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum and it attracts literally thousands of people in a massive, energetic group practice for about an hour.

If you loved Namase Day, you will love Yoga on the Steps! Please visit the website to learn more and to register for a modest $20 fee. www.lbbc.orgRegister now for Yoga on the Steps: Philadelphia.

Author Elizabeth BarkerElizabeth Barker Author Changed by Chance

Kindred Spirits at Namas Day Philadelphia

I volunteer at numerous LBBC Living Beyond Breast Cancer events through the year. Spring brings an all-day yoga event called Namaste`Day to Philadelphia. LBBC is an advocate of yoga because of its mind, body, and spirit connective healing philosophy. They appreciate that healing a life threatening illness such as breast cancer needs to be addressed with all of the body’s senses. And so, they had a booth at Namas Day and I volunteered because I love yoga.

Typically, there are at least 2 of us survivors at an LBBC event and it is always nice to meet someone new and to hear their BC story.

Well, this encounter turned out to be extraordinary!
(Of course, it should have been no surprise given the spiritual nature of Namas Day.)

So, my fellow volunteer that day is Elizabeth Howanski. As usual, we swap our Breast Cancer stories. As usual, I expect that when I tell my new friend that I am a 24 year, young survivor, she will be wowed by the survivor-ship years. Which I am grateful for every day folks.

LBBC EventHowever, much to my surprise, Betsy tells me that she is a longer survivor! Although we are both the same age (58), Betsy was diagnosed younger, at age 26. Therefore, she is now a 32 year survivor! Neither of us has a family history of BC. Our name and age similarities don’t end there. Betsy was also diagnosed while she was pregnant, at about 5 months along with same timing – diagnosed in May and due date was early October! We were both given the same trite, horrifying advice by our doctors – “terminate your pregnancy to save your life”. Sadly, our parallels end here.

Betsy followed her doctor’s advice and reluctantly terminated her pregnancy. (Remember, there was no internet and not much history of BC at young ages or during pregnancy back then. Without question, doctor knew best.) I almost followed that advice but, I was fortunate that a family friend, a doctor himself, (an angel I call him), intervened and saved my baby’s life. Betsy and I wept and hugged as we shared our stories. I felt a bit guilty and humbled, that I was touched by an angel and that Bryan was saved. More importantly though, I felt a kindred spirit with Betsy, not only due to our similar past, but also because of our futures and our philosophies of “living beyond breast cancer.”

Betsy bravely moved on with an enthusiastic and positive spin on life. She adopted 3 wonderful children from Korea who are now 21, 29, and 31. She is a long time professional working at Drexel University’s development office. We both echoed the same sentiments about our lives – that the BC experience was a life lesson. It taught us both some sage advice. That we need to be self-advocates and to educate ourselves when we are faced with serious obstacles in our lives. It’s the 3 “R”’s that I talk about in my book – Recognize, Research, and then React. Live and learn.

Another day, another journey… Namaste~

Author Elizabeth Barker of Changed by Chance


[…] blog post by Liz Barker originally appeared on on April 28, 2015. It was reprinted here with the author’s […]

In Honor of Lauren

It was mid-morning April 16th, 1986. A beautiful Spring day much like today. I was lucky to be in the end stages of a short, easy labor and delivery. For 9 months, we were excitedly awaiting the birth of our first child. Suddenly I was whisked to the OR and the scenario changed dramatically within minutes. Lauren Elizabeth Barker was born gasping for breath, fighting for her life, and we were in shock. From that day forward, my life was forever changed.

To honor Lauren and to share all the life lessons that she taught us, I have penned my book Liz Barker, Author of Changed by Chance. Champion by Choice. Due out this Fall.

It’s been 29 years, but a mother never forgets…. She’s my guardian angel. Lauren 4/16/86 – 4/29/89