Self Inquiry: I think self-inquiry can teach us a lot about who we are, how we tick, what our obstacles are, and how to work our way through the challenges and genuinely enjoy the triumphs. It’s not easy work, but perhaps it’s a necessary tool to find balance and truth in our hurried fast-paced worlds. It can open doors to meditation and quiet time for yourself and give you the deeper meaning of not what you are, but what and who your truth is. We discover our core essence, and this is where all of our unique divine greatness is born.
Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?
As a part of our series about “How We Can Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Megan Pischke.
Megan is B4BC’s (Boarding for Breast Cancer) Wellness + Community Director. As a former professional snowboarder, current breast cancer thriver, and raising two children, she brings in first-hand knowledge and experience to being an empowered activist for Integrative healing for women managing a breast cancer diagnosis, treatments, and aftercare. Her ideas around wellness transcend beyond what you can ‘do’ for yourself, with ‘what we can be and achieve together’ within our communities.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up between my mother in Santa Barbara, CA and my father in the mountains of Colorado. I think I would say Colorado owns the most real estate in my heart. I grew up an ‘80’s’ kid, and eventually with four younger half-sisters. I have an open-minded mother- think Mothers for Peace, Save the Whales, protesting nuclear plants and oil drilling off the coast of Southern California. My father is my athletic inspiration, and I grew up with him in the outdoors. For my entire life, my dad has been serving his communities in the way of a first responder, firefighter, and ski patrol. Today he is a recently retired Fire Chief, but I know he will always be a fireman. Both my parents are my heroes and inspiration. I started snowboarding in high school and early 90’s and eventually became a pro in 1995 and lived my dream of exploring the mountains of the world, meeting new friends, challenging my fears. My snowboard career lasted over ten years with first descendants in Greenland, Turkey, the Yukon, 7 XGames appearances, and immeasurable gratitude I still carry with me today. Snowboarding is where I grew up in many ways, where I met my soulmate David, and now have two beautiful mountain-loving children who are also growing up outdoors snowboarding, playing, and adventuring.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
I have had several career influences throughout my life. Ultimately I would say my ‘career’ choices have been of self-design, and I did not attend college per se. I also think that significant life experiences pushed me to seek understanding. I look at my life ‘experiences’ as inlets to the spaces in which I continue to learn, grow, evolve my career and, in turn, share what I am learning.
As I started my snowboard career, I had a near-death experience at the age of 20 when I hit a tree and nearly hemorrhaged to death. This experience opened a window for me, in my mind and heart. I was ready to leap into whatever was next. I decided that I am the driver, not the passenger of my life direction. Once I started to heal from this trauma, I felt like I was in the right place. I was meeting the right people and ‘flowing’ in that awareness. There were a ton of teachings in that for me. A snowboarding career gave me things that I don’t think I would have learned at college; it taught me a lot about the things I continue to be passionate about today: the outdoors and our planet/nature/weather, self-employed business and creativity, self-care, self-love, and honing in on my intuition.
Traveling the world also fueled my passion for protecting our planet, and I continue to align with Protect Our Winters and Community Carbon Trees Costa Rica. My family and I equatorial tree plant every year to offset our carbon emissions. It feels small compared to the work that needs to be done, it also teaches my children something powerful. My kids get to see these trees grow and flourish, animals migrate, compost is created, and communities are supported to grow and prosper. My kids learn that the planet wants to heal just like us, and it also needs attention and love.
Through snowboarding, I began supporting an organization called ‘Boarding for Breast Cancer.’ I was drawn to the fact that breast cancer also affects younger women, and it felt good to share their message of ‘be healthy get active’ as your best means to breast cancer prevention. My grandmother had struggled with breast cancer, and I also felt the need to show support and be a part of something beyond ‘me.’ In 2004, my pro-snowboarder friend Barrett and I were doing snowboarding+yoga weekends in Vail. Snowboarding coupled with yoga was medicine to me, and I wanted to invite some young women dealing with breast cancer to join us, at no cost to them. So I got my longtime sponsor, The North Face involved. We created some fundraising efforts towards these wellness retreats and poof! We were able to support several women to attend these ‘wellness’ events at no cost. I partnered with B4BC, we continued fundraising efforts and eventually created fully funded wellness weekends for young women managing breast cancer diagnosis and treatments. These nature-based wellness weekends consist of snowboarding, skiing, surfing, yoga and meditation, nutrition, integrative care, Chinese medicine, sexual health, and more. B4BC not only connects young women with the outdoors but with others who are facing a similar path and challenges. Besides my children, this is the highlight of my life right now!
After my first child was born, I transitioned out of my professional snowboarding, and I went to (Thai) massage school to study. This modality of massage was beneficial to me during my professional athlete career- and I just love it! Practicing Thai massage for six years gave me an in-depth understanding of my own physical body and how the human body truly wants to heal. It showed me the power of prayer, the importance of the connection of touch, and what a practiced routine could do for the mind/body/spirit. I still occasionally gift friends and family a message; it brings me joy.
Within months of the birth of my second child, at the age of 40, I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and dove into what many women call ‘Cancer University.’ The severity of the diagnosis threw me off. I felt pretty healthy by all means and have always honored my body and health. I desperately wanted to stay and watch my children grow, to keep enjoying this miraculous, beautiful world, and so there was work to do. I decided once again, without taking responsibility for this hand dealt to me, I would be in the driver’s seat. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing, but I prayed for direction, for the right team of healers and followed my intuition, and had heard so many ‘good’ stories from younger women within the breast cancer community. I had already been facilitating these Wellness retreats with B4BC for six years. I had never wondered what cancer must be like, only I always had wondered ‘what more can I do for these women.’ And here I was about to walk the walk.
Along with a lot of guidance from trusted sources, I orchestrated this incredible ‘team’ of healers, doctors, shamans, therapists, surgeons, etc. I chose a multitude of integrated therapies alongside the standard chemo/surgery/radiation. And I know that every one of these people and therapy choices brought something to assist in eradicating the cancer. Being a parent shows us our wounds, but also how simple and joyful things can be. My kids are obviously a huge inspiration for me to be the best and most authentic me.
I have been in full remission for seven years, and still work with my FABNO Oncologist named Dr. Gurdev Parmar. He is a huge mentor currently as I get close to my 10 year anniversary, where the medical field officially calls me ‘healed’. I made a short independent film called ‘Chasing Sunshine’ that features all of my Integrative treatment choices, and you can find it on iTunes.
With all these life opportunities, I continually find myself flowing towards a ‘wellness’ field and ‘career’ if you will.
My current job as a Wellness Director allows me to keep learning, make connections, and do integral studying and work on what healing can mean to women going through something so multilayered and complicated as cancer. My hope is that no one ever feels alone in this world when working towards healing, most especially in cancer.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
I credit and am grateful often for several people for many different reasons in my life:
Both my mom and dad– teaching me to stand up for my beliefs, and for inspirationally serving others and our communities, and for loving me unconditionally.
Linda Kennoy: For her spiritual guidance on intuition/meditation, teaching me to connect with my guides, and grounding myself.