From Skeptic to Supporter
Zully, age 17
When then-15-year-old Zully first greeted third-degree black belt Angela Babin, it wasn’t exactly with open arms. The meeting took place in Zully’s hospital room, where she was being treated for synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, and Zully was hesitant about the whole thing.
“I didn’t want to do it,” the teen recalls. “I thought it would be a waste of my time.”
Then Angela, Kids Kicking Cancer’s New York program director, led her through some breathing and meditation techniques, teaching Zully new ways to cope with the pain and anxiety of an endless battery of scans, pokes and prods. Zully’s verdict?
“I thought it was a waste of time.”
Not the response her mother, Zulma, who encouraged the visit, had been hoping for. But some of Angela’s exercises stuck in Zully’s mind, and she found herself using them in the days that followed.
“I kept doing it and I really liked it,” Zully says. “I was more relaxed and the next time Angela came, she let me try it again.”
Since then, Zully has continued using the techniques she learned to deal with her pain. Recently she underwent a PET scan, which involves lying very still on a table for at least 30 minutes while moving slowly through a doughnut-shaped machine. This is especially difficult for Zully because she is claustrophobic , but she was able to ease her anxiety using meditation.
“It used to be, when I had to get MRIs or PET scans, I always layed there and thought about, ‘Is it going to be over soon?’ I was always thinking about it and crying. Recently when I had a PET scan done, I layed there and thought about other things. I used the deep breathing Angela showed me. That’s why I got through it.”
Zully says that meditation transports her mind away from the stress and pain of her immediate situation. Today, she is cancer-free and back to hanging by the pool, shopping with friends and enjoying her favorite reality TV shows.
“What I’ve learned is no matter what you go through, or whether you think to yourself, ‘I can’t do this,’ breathe deeply and think of other things besides the situation that you’re going through right there,” Zully advises. “It really helped me.
That’s what Angela taught me the most.”