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Dancing on through

Wednesday, 31 January 2018 14:24:44 Europe/London

young ballerina smiling and diagnosed with metastic breast cancer

This week we are thrilled to have the very talented ballerina Maggie Kudirka talk about her dancing and diagnosis with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.  Images are all courtesy of Maggie and are completely stunning.  A true testament to her immense courage, strength and positivity.

When did you begin dancing?

I started dancing at the age of 4. My older sister was going to ballet classes and while her class was running, there was a class for my age group at the same time. So instead of waiting for my sister to be finished with her class, my mom enrolled me in my own class and my love for dance grew from there. As a child I was speech delayed, so dance suddenly opened up a whole new way of expressing myself. Through the years it has continued to be my escape.

bald ballerina undergoing chemotherapy dancing

Photo credit Andrew Holtz

My diagnosis

In June 2014, my world was turned upside down when a doctor said these four words: “You have breast cancer.” I immediately burst into tears. Many questions exploded in my brain: Could I continue dancing? Could I stay in NYC where I was a dancer with the Joffrey Concert Group? What kind of treatments would I be undergoing? Would I be able to dance after the treatments? I was only 23; my adult life was just beginning; surely this couldn’t be real.

ballerinas leaping across the ballet stage

Photo credit Nick Hood

I got a 2nd opinion and learned my cancer was far more advanced and serious than I was led to believe. I changed doctors and hospitals. Tests ordered by my new doctor showed that my cancer had metastasized to my lymph nodes, sternum, spine, and pelvis. I had a very aggressive, fast growing stage 4 breast cancer: median life expectancy two to three years. I moved back home to Maryland where my new medical team immediately sprang into action and my first treatment began on July 1st.

bald ballerina with chemo hair loss dancing

Photo credit Luis Pons Photography

How did you cope with your diagnosis and has it changed how you look after your body?

At first I didn’t believe my diagnosis. I thought I was in a horrible nightmare and at any moment I would wake up and I would still have my dance career and health. It took a little time to adjust to having cancer, to having to be in treatment for the rest of my life. All throughout treatment, I have continued to dance. Dance has always been my escape and my way of expressing my innermost feelings. Whenever I am able and strong enough I head over to the studio - to move is a blessing. I cherish every minute in the studio and on stage, because I never know what tomorrow has in store for me. I really stay in tune with my body and how if feels everyday. Everyday it is different.

What advice do you have for moving forward and living with cancer?

Staying positive is something I tell all cancer patients. Being positive helps your body heal. Starting and regularly writing for a blog can help to keep your mind busy and to have an outlet for your feelings.  A place to have your journey written down.

young woman dancer talks about her cancer treatment

About Bald Ballerina

I began the Bald Ballerina social media movement shortly after my diagnosis. Initially, I wanted to make young women aware that breast cancer is not just a disease that targets middle-aged and older women.  It can also strike fit young ballerinas like me. I wanted to raise awareness of stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and the desperate need for a cure. I hope Bald Ballerina can help to spread this message. Bald Ballerina’s mission is to promote hope and positive thinking, even when faced with the very bad prognosis of stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Being negative does not accomplish anything, it hurts others as well as yourself. While cancer certainly has no positives, it is much easier to face a difficulty if you have hope that the future will be better. My goal for Bald Ballerina is to raise awareness and funding for metastatic breast cancer research so that a cure will be found soon.

The Bald Ballerina can be found on Facebook @BaldBallerina

We first 'met' Maggie when she was published by Vogue online in May 2015, in the brilliant Vogue video '9 Women Tell The Truth About Life and Hair Loss'  We then caught up with her again when she walked the catwalk (in her pointe shoes!) looking strong and sensational at the fabulous @projectcancerland show as part of NYC Fashion Week 2017.  She is about to do so again as NYC Fashion Week arrives on 11th February 2018 - we wish her a very healthy and successful future.  Brava! Maggie

 

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