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Health and Wellness Coaching, Massage Therapy, Pilates and Yoga Studio in Ashburn VA. or listen to the Unspoken Cancer Truths podcast

Operating as usual

UCT Ep. 35: Sex and Reconnecting with Your Body After Cancer with Tara

No one prepares you for this when you are diagnosed with cancer, and virtually no one talks about it afterwards during survivorship: what it’s like to feel sexual, have sex, and just rediscover your own body after cancer.

But we’re talking about it today because it’s so important!

On today’s episode I’m talking with Tara Galeano, a licensed professional counselor and AASECT certified sex therapist who has helped women (including many cancer survivors!) for over 20 years to get their sexy back.

Join us as Tara answers questions from other cancer survivors about intimacy, sex, and reconnecting with your body after treatment.

Animals have the right idea. Just watch a cat or dog or animals in the wild. The first thing they do when they get up from a nap is STRETCH! When was the last time you stood up off the couch or out of a chair and stretched before you headed off for wherever you were going?

Do you have a favorite type of exercise? Is there an active activity you have been wanting to try but haven’t yet? Check out mine in the comments.

How many times do you get up and move during the day? Is it intentional? Today I have an intentional movement challenge for you. Set a timer for 50 minutes. At a minimum, I want you to get up from your seat when the timer goes off and move for 5 minutes. When you get back to your desk start the count down again. Do this throughout your day.

Try to move your elbows and knees move in 2 directions, your spine moves in 4 directions, hips in 6, and shoulders in 8. Let me know in the comments if you want me to hop in here live to review all the ways to move through out the day. Tell me how you feel at the end of the day.

I was talking with a client this week and we were working on functional movement exercises using a stability ball. Then we started to focus on posture and the importance of stretching and reclaiming good posture. As we were talking, she commented that too much couch sitting and staying in was causing what she called the Covid curve. One of our goals has always been to keep her spine from turning into a c shape. Have you noticed that working from home with a less then ideal set up, too much couch lounging, or a decrease in your overall movement has left you with new aches and pains?

This might sound weird, one of the upsides of stay at home orders and social distancing for me has been exercise. In addition to our two dogs, we started fostering a pup a few days before stay at home orders were announced in VA. As a result I have really been getting my steps in with multiple shifts of dog walking every day. Teaching via zoom has also encouraged an increase in different types of movement, returning to my roots in mat work and getting creative with props to help my clients to stay moving and challenged. How has your movement been? Are you moving more or could you use some help to get moving again?

Episode 31 of Unspoken Cancer Truths

Check out my interview with the fabulous Bonnie McVee. This conversation is jam packed with tips for how to navigate cancer from a place of joy. Yes you read that right... joy. It's a choice. Check it out

Everything has pluses and minuses. The question is which do you focus on. Tuesday I asked about what good had come out of the current pandemic for you. I am curious, when I asked that did you immediately think of a positive thing? In our chat this week on the Unspoken Cancer Truths Podcast, Bonnie and I talked about this very topic through the lens of dealing with cancer. (Check out our chat here: While it is what it is and we are where we are, we get to chose what we focus on. Let’s focus on some fun for the weekend. What fun things do you have planned?

My podcast guest this week is Bonnie McVee. If you have not given a listen, check it out here ( One of the things we talked about was receiving help, how we attach our ability to receive the help others offer us to our perceived self-worth (spoiler: you ARE ALREADY worthy of receiving!) and how asking for help is like a muscle, if we don’t use it we lose the ability to ask when we really need to. Todays Thursday challenge is to ask for some help today. It doesn’t have to be a big ask, something that could be made easier with the help of someone else. We don’t have to go it alone. Let me know in the comments some ideas of ways you could ask for some help today!

Does social distancing, adjusted work routines and the hunt for bleach wipes (seriously I need some, let me know if you see any!) have you feeling like you have fallen off the hamster wheel of life? Maybe that is a good thing! Tell me in the comments what good things have come from slowing down over these past several months. Are any of those things changing how you are moving forward from here?

Yesterday I shared a little about the medical bills from a car accident I had many years ago. That accident taught me the importance of understanding our medical bills and the fact that having health insurance is non-negotiable, no matter how young or healthy you are. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I was self employed with an Affordable Care Act plan. I did not have the cheapest plan, nor the most expensive, but I had a plan. That was good because in 2016 I had over $300k in bills run through that plan for cancer treatments. I was by my doctors high standards extremely healthy. It turned out I just had this little pesky breast cancer problem.

I have a massage therapist friend who likes to say massage therapy is necessity not a luxury. I could not agree more! My question for you today is based on my story, do you believe that health insurance is a necessity or a luxury?

14 years ago, I had a car accident. I ended up with a puncture to my knee joint. I rode in an ambulance to the hospital emergency room where they determined I needed to have a minor surgery to flush out the joint and stitch me up. Then I stayed overnight to finish 24 hours of IV antibiotics to protect from any infection. The bill before they submitted to my insurance for the hospital alone was $14,999. That did not include the ambulance or the surgeon. After insurance was done assessing the charges, they deemed about $2k of the bill reasonable, $2k was unidentifiable and the rest was written down as not allowed by my insurance.

That means that if I did not have insurance, I could have been on the hook for $12,999, that the insurance company deemed as not appropriate or unable to assess. This is where negotiation comes in to play. If you find yourself faced with medical debt due to an accident or unexpected illness know that you can negotiate. Also know that there are often funds available to cover certain types of costs. The most important thing is to speak up and ask questions right away. Do not avoid the bills because often access to funds to pay those bills have a clock on them. Payment plans are also usually an option once you have negotiated and come to an agreement for reasonable costs.

Did you know you could negotiate medical bills not covered by an insurance plan? Did you know that many pharmaceutical companies have programs to offset drug costs? Have you ever negotiated a medical bill? Your story could help someone else

Unspoken Cancer Truths Episode 30

My guest this week is Katie Pittsinger. Come on over and check out the story of how this 35 year old mom of a new born was diagnosed during a routine screening mammogram, not at all a normal screening done at her age!

Let’s talk about money. Who just said what? That seems like a weird topic to talk about in this group. Health care in the US is a big topic of discussion. I do not want to go down that rabbit hole, because there are a lot of different ways to trap that rabbit.

Did you know in 2019 752,160 personal bankruptcy filings happened in the US? Did you also know that 65.5% of those contained medical debt (492,665) and 20% (98,533) of those were only medical debt? Did you know that medical debt is negotiable? Let me know in the comments what came up for you when you read these numbers.

Let’s play a game. List all the ways we can ask for help and advocate for ourselves today. Go.

One of the most important things you can do is ask for what you need, help, time to recharge, a second opinion (there are many times we should ask for this!) Yet asking for help seems so hard to do. Today, I want you to ask for something you need that you normally would not ask for. Let me know in the comments how it went. I will post mine in there as well.

Did you celebrate something yesterday? I was celebrating starting a new knitting project to celebrate my niece. It was something to celebrate because it is a complicated pattern and my brain is functioning well to actually execute that pattern. A couple years ago, knitting had become really challenging. My brain was foggy from all my treatments and I was not even fully aware of how “off” I was.

It wasn’t until my body had reached a tipping point I could no longer deal with that I fully advocated for myself with the doctors and got to the bottom of the problem. Up until that point I was told things like… these things are normal… most people gain 10 to 20 pounds… you have to take this medication… No why I needed to take it. No statistics about how much it reduced my risk of recurrence. BTW it wasn’t that much, which is why that was not a topic of conversation.

When I had finally had enough it was then that I discovered how significantly it was impacting my brain function. I also discovered that I was allergic to the medication. Something I would not have discovered had I simply accepted this situation as what I HAD to do. Have you had a situation that was really difficult where advocating for yourself helped you out of it? Are you in one now?

Sometimes celebrating what is going well for us is hard to do when it seems like the world is burning around us. As a cancer survivor it can be difficult as well, especially when we meet others whose journey is really challenging them. Staying positive can be great medicine and it can manifest in small ways. Today I want to know what positives can you celebrate today?

Living in the moment isn’t about not doing what needs to be done. It is about being discerning and doing what needs to be done in a way that works best for you. How do you embrace living in the moment? Are you playing by your own rule book or someone elses?

I am a big believer that every day is a new day to begin again. It is not how we fail, but how we get back up or begin again. Often that is really where we find our strength and the best learning opportunities. It has been really hot here in Northern Virginia, like 100-degree heat index at 7am hot. Heat brings with it challenges for outdoor exercise and generally moving around the world. If the heat index outside is 100 to 110, how hot do you think the inside of your car is? This can create challenges to stay hydrated, challenges to switch up your routines to not be out at the hottest times of the day, challenges to change the plan to do what is safe and not just what is on the calendar. Tell me in the comments how you pivot when circumstances call for a new plan. Do you resist it or adjust to live in the moment?

One of the things I love about the work I do with people is that I have a depth of knowledge that enables me to meet my clients where they are in the moment when they walk in the door. Based on what clients tell me they need or what we did in our last session I am prepared with a plan. Then they come in with pain and the plan goes out the window.

I had a client who herniated a disk. He had been in treatment with a doctor and was working with a chiropractor. He called me because he had been active and wanted to get back to that as quickly as possible, but he knew he needed help. When he came into the studio, I expected to go through my normal movement evaluation and do a modified movement session. Where he thought he was and where he actually was were not the same place.

The traumatic disk injury created a lot of fear around moving. In addition to the fear, the injury was causing imbalance in his body, one hip was high, and one shoulder was low. So, we started with muscle work and building trust. Each session the muscle work was enabling him to feel less pain, have more mobility and he could stand straighter. Once we got to a place where he had more mobility, we were able to work on movement and focus on getting him stronger and more aware of his movement then he had been before.

I have been getting clients moving again since 2006. The more I learn, the more I learn there is still more to learn. Following my curiosity and continuing to expand my knowledge base has enabled me to build an extensive tool kit. Pilates, restorative yoga, massage therapy, lymphedema therapy, neuro-movement work, etc. Getting creative and using the tools in my toolkit enables me to help my clients get out of pain and get back to what they are missing. Given where we are with this pandemic has your exercise or movement routine suffered or is it is thriving? Is there anything movement wise you are needing help with?

Who has a plan for their day? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Now tell me if your plan goes sideways is your day ruined? I feel like one of the lessons of the pandemic is to live in the now, whatever now looks like. I had a plan for this weekend. I was going to spend Saturday straightening up the house and generally getting caught up on householdy stuff.

Then I was out for a walk with our foster pup and I started getting all these creative ideas for book content that I had been struggling with. It was because I had been struggling a bit that I decided to set it aside for a few days. We got home and when the pets were all fed and watered, I sat down at the computer and knocked out a big chunk of writing.

Sometimes it is when we step away that the answers come to us. The challenge is being flexible enough to answer the call when it comes. Have you had a time you were stuck and taking a break helped or been struck by a creative idea that you decided to action on, even if it meant rescheduling your day? Tell me in the comments!

Regardless of the circumstances of today, believe me it has been pretty crazy over here in our world, what can you begin fresh today?

Sometimes I think women spend too much time apologizing for insignificant things or everything. So for today let’s focus on forgiveness and forgetting! As I pondered this statement it got me thinking that we cannot forget what we have not forgiven. Even if we are forgiving is ourselves. I would love to know what you think. Can we forget what we haven’t forgiven?

I am a fan of curiosity and positivity. That does not mean I don’t have bad days. It does mean I try to find the lesson in the challenge. What lessons have you been learning during the first half of 2020?

One way we can flex our resilience muscle is to find the positive in our situation. Truly the positive, no buts, no anger or resentment. If you do not like taking medication and you list the positive benefits of your medication keeping your condition in check, but you still resent having to take it in the first place, I am going to say that does not count. I might go so far as to say we are being reduced by those feelings of resentment. When we feel like we are losing our energy is focused on the negative, or victim energy. When we focus on the positive, winning energy we can see the benefits and focus on those.

So for today, spend 10 minutes writing down a list of all the things you are grateful for. Then assess if there is ill feeling in any of the items on the list. If there is how can you turn that from a loss to a win? Tell me in the comments. You never know how your idea can help someone else!

Meet Kate Zickel in Episode 28 of Unspoken Cancer Truths

My guest on the Unspoken Cancer Truths podcast this week is Kate Zickel. Kate and I talk a lot about the adventures that a cancer journey can unlock. For both of us it was a bit of an unexpected silver lining. While cancer does not come without down days, it often uncovers a resiliency we did not know we had, until we were faced with the challenge. Check out our interview today at

While the pandemic is absolutely a challenge for all of us to navigate, I have heard from many cancer patients and survivors that they actually found the adjustments needed felt familiar. When you are undergoing treatment there is a fair amount of social distancing required. Depending on your treatment, your immune system can be non-existent so avoiding crowds and keeping distance from people is critical. If you lose your hair or experience other outward symptoms of treatment people have a cue that you could be compromised.

One of the biggest challenges for people now is that not everyone at high risk LOOKS like they are high risk and not everyone infected has symptoms that indicate they should avoid others. Add to that the fact that isolation is taking a toll on all the aspects of our wellbeing (physical, financial, social, mental, purpose, and emotional). It is easy to forget that we are resilient and capable of making changes that support everyone and allow us to start getting back to more of the activities we miss and be safe at the same time.

If we are going to get back to moving around freely, we are probably going to need to get creative and practice some resiliency. Was there a significant challenge you faced that had a creative solution?

Health & Wellness Coaching, Movement and Massage Therapy

I began getting survivors moving again following illness in 2005. After becoming a survivor myself, it became my mission to help people make the transition from treatment to survivorship. By shining a light on the challenges and realities of survivorship we find we are not alone and that and there is strength in that knowledge. Using the tools in my tool kit I can help you get moving again and partner with you to create a plan to meet your health and wellness goals.

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Videos (show all)

UCT Ep. 35: Sex and Reconnecting with Your Body After Cancer with Tara
Episode 31 of Unspoken Cancer Truths
Unspoken Cancer Truths Episode 30
Meet Kate Zickel in Episode 28 of Unspoken Cancer Truths
Unspoken Cancer Truths with Jessica Walker



19723 Island Avenue
Ashburn, VA

General information

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