shannon's breast cancer boudoir session experience
If you meet Shannon Burrows, you can’t help but smile. Her infectious energy and vibrant personality immediately draw you in. She is a very passionate woman dedicated to helping women achieve their fitness goals. I like to say that Shannon is a “force”. Because she is truly that. A force to be reckoned with. You don’t say “no” to Shannon because you trust she has your best interests at heart.
She shared with me that “Years before my diagnosis, I created my fitness tagline of Changing The World, One S.M.I.L.E. at a time because I wanted to help people change any little thing in their life that would help make them a better version of themselves each and every day. SMILE: S. (Simply) M. (Making) I. (Individual) L. (Lifestyle) E. (Enhancements).
Shannon’s Cancer journey.
In 2016, I decided to leave a career I was unhappy in, to pursue something I loved, which was fitness. I took all the necessary steps I needed in order to become a Certified Personal Trainer. From there, I landed a dream job of teaching Group Fitness, so I could change more than one person’s life at a time. There is nothing more rewarding than waking up every day and being able to make a difference in someone’s life, no matter how big or small that enhancement is. I want to give people the tools to set themselves for success in life and their health & fitness journey. I want everyone to work on becoming a better version of themselves each and every day.
Where my life drastically changed and put me on my path to serve my purpose and passion was on July 13th, 2017. I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Hearing those words, “You have cancer”, changes your entire life, emotionally, mentally and physically. Not only was I scared about what was about to happen to my body, but how was I going to continue my career as a trainer if I couldn’t do many of the exercises myself? How was I going to maintain my positive outlook on life? Throughout my journey, I had several setbacks and challenges but I refused to let anything keep me down. I was reminded of how important it is to listen to your body and be your own advocate. I ended up firing my first oncologist and plastic surgeon, as they were no longer going to be a good fit for me in my cancer journey based on lack of communication, poor bedside manor and removing body parts that I was not expecting. How was I going to continue my career in fitness if I could no longer do many of the exercises? What was going to be my “new norm” in my exercise routine and life in general? Instead of letting these kinds of questions get me down, I became proactive in finding my solutions and became certified as a Cancer Exercise Specialist through the Cancer Exercise Training Institute.
I was now able to educate and train myself to get back into my fitness routine and establish MY “new norm”and take that same information to educate others diagnosed with cancer through their journey. Educate them on how important it is to become healthy before surgery, active and healthy through treatment and into recovery.
Throughout my journey, I have been blessed to meet so many other strong & amazing women and help them along the way. I cannot say I am thankful for cancer, but I am thankful for the people I have met along the way and the lessons I have learned.
Being truly blessed with the opportunity to find a solution to one of my struggles, physical limitations, with the Cancer Exercise Training Institute, I have now joined them as the Vice-President of Business Development and became a Master Trainer.
About two weeks after being diagnosed with breast cancer, I received a text message from a friend of mine that had just taken a new job at the American Cancer Society and needed my help with an upcoming charity event called Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk that was taking place in October. He and I had worked on several charity events together and he knew the strengths I could bring to the event to help him. He had no idea I had just been diagnosed and I hadn’t told anyone other than family at that time. I hesitated on my response because my initial reaction was yes, of course I will help combined with the feeling of how do I tell him this? I replied back to him, telling him I had just been diagnosed but will absolutely do everything I can to help (not knowing what I was about to go through).
The first year I spent going through all of my surgeries and putting together a team and fundraising as Team S.M.I.L.E With Shannon. We were the largest team and fund raised the most money. In 2018, I joined the committee to help give back by helping to raise awareness and for those affected by breast cancer. In 2019 I served as the event chair for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk and am honored to be the event chair again for the 2020 walk. Not only have I become involved locally to put an end to breast cancer but I have also had the privilege of being on the Southeast Regional Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Committee for the last two years and starting my third year.
This has resulted in me being able to help so many others by doing public speaking about my journey and having a positive mindset, finding your purpose and dealing with my diagnosis of breast cancer and the importance of exercise and cancer as well as help with research to putting an end to breast cancer.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has not been easy but I do know it could be so much worse. I have taken every obstacle, struggle, bump in the road as a learning experience and embraced it as part of the journey. If it wasn’t for my diagnosis and struggles, I don’t think I would have found my true purpose in life. I had physical struggles of not being able to do my job as a fitness professional and normal everyday tasks that we all take for granted.I have struggled with sleeping since I can only sleep on my back from now on. I still cannot do some exercises because of the limitations I have. The biggest physical, mental and emotional struggle I still have is not having any feeling in my chest area. I bump into things, I can’t lay on my stomach or side but most of all my emotional struggle of not being able to feel my daughter’s head on my chest when we snuggle. I can’t feel hugs with her or my husband.
Shannon’s story was such an inspiration to me to keep moving forward with my Warrior Goddess project for breast cancer survivors. When I realized that boudoir can be truly therapeutic for these women, and that if how they identify as women has been altered for life, and if I can help them realize that they are still beautiful and cancer has not taken that away, then that is what I want to do!
So when I published my first Warrior Goddess magazine, she was my Covergirl!
So Rhea uses her talent to help women, like me, (breast cancer survivors) feel empowered and beautiful like the person we are inside and to not let cancer define us
Shannon is a true leader and a Women’s Empowerment Coach, Wellness Coach & Breast Cancer Recovery Coach. She is also a Certified Cancer Exercise Specialist & Fitness Professional.
Shannon is local to Palm Beach County and helps women diagnosed with Breast Cancer to take back control of their life to become the best version of yourself by educating, empowering, and inspiring them, from diagnosis and beyond, through support, exercise and healthy living using The S.M.I.L.E. Method. She also helps other fitness professionals become certified as a cancer exercise specialist to help bridge the gap between the fitness and medical industries so they can be part of changing the lives of cancer patients.
Interested in learning more? Go to www.shannonburrows.com or email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
She also has a podcast: https://bustinoutofbreastcancer.buzzsprout.com/
would you like to nominate someone for a warrior goddess breast cancer boudoir session?
To date, I have photographed over 60 women from across the country! If you or someone you know has breast cancer and you feel could benefit from a session with me, please click the link below to be entered into our Warrior Goddess project. I select 2 Warrior Goddesses to photograph per month.
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