Cancer Advocate Advantage

I think I’ve always been a Global Patient Advocate, now that I think about it.  Seriously, I’ve been teaching group exercise since high school and got really used to talking people into trying something new, like step aerobics, or slide or even spinning which is the stationary form of cycling.  It’s always been totally fun for me to draw in a new class of students and then take them through a beginner class teaching them how to do it and how to do it safely and then of course, how to have fun doing it!  That’s just me.  That’s the story of my life, as my dad would say.

So when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, I continued to share information and my experience with my community via social media with the intention to inform and educate others so that they wouldn’t be as surprised as I was!  I for one, almost never did my own self breast exam, much less monthly.  And I didn’t know of any family history of cancer.  Plus, I was a yoga teaching, vegetarian at the time I was diagnosed so I really didn’t believe the doctors.

Fast forward to seven years later, and I’ve continued to find new and valuable experiences in advocacy that I kept sharing with my inner circle of friends.  And when it comes to young breast cancer survivors, the circle is still super teeny.  Yet, I kept blogging and sharing great things through Facebook and Twitter until my dear friend and advocate soul sister passed away of metastatic breast cancer at the age of thirty in 2015.  We both went to Texas A&M, we both had two dogs, and we both even had the same birthday, but not the same birth year.  Actually, she was born when I turned sixteen and started teaching aerobics in 1985.

Today she is not with us, and I am going into my thirty-first year of teaching group exercise, but now I specialize in Special Populations including cancer survivors, newly diagnosed, Alzheimer’s Caregivers, and my favorite form of teaching is through group retreats.  I remember when Amber got just as excited as I did at the idea of advocating in DC, Austin and even rode 200 miles along the PCH1 for the Young Survival Coalition.  I loved Amber and miss her so much.  But now she is kicking me in the tukus to share the love and grow my sphere of influence to include Austin and beyond.

With that said, I am continuing the Cancer Advocate Advantage as an email newsletter to all those that keep asking me to remind them when and how to get in to a certain advocacy program.  It’s time to get more survivors inspired to become advocates for not only their own story, but all those stories that aren’t here anymore.  This is why I continue to blog and share and tweet and post because of so many that can’t be here today, including Amber Gillespie, Judy Gulgun, JoAnna Myers, and Rachel Midgett among others.  If you’d like to join the newsletter please send a message to sandymcastillo@gmail.com and use the word CAA in the subject line.  And if there is something in particular that you’d like to know about, then by all means ask.  I plan to share my own schedule of dates, application guidance and can even offer a recommendation if needed.  Once you know then you know better.  In one year alone, I won so many scholarships that I spent every single month at the airport to attend a conference, meet the doctors, meet other advocates from around the world, shared ideas, got inspired, learned new things and then came home to share the details with my community.

Advocates Inspire others to Speak up about their Health!