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Flourish Magazine: Writing – Bougez-vous! (Move yourself!)

2 Oct 2023

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As part of each issue of Flourish Magazine, we release weekly digital content alongside our free print magazine, on the Artlift and Yes to Life blogs. This is often content we couldn’t fit into the magazine’s limited pages, or film and music, but loved and wanted to show the world.  

This issue of Flourish Magazine was on the theme of ‘Movement’, with submissions from those living with or beyond cancer received through an open call for creative responses to the theme.  

Next up in our digital content is Bougez-vous! (Move yourself!), a blog by Denise Stevenson on how moving physically, creatively, spiritually and creating her very own movement has helped her through cancer.

Read the print magazine online for free here, and watch this space for more digital content! 


Bougez-vous! (Move yourself!) 

Came the cry from our aerobics instructor. 

It was Monday evening and I was half-way through my weekly aerobics class in our village hall in South West France. 

I’d had a chemotherapy infusion the Wednesday before and was slowly coming out of the fog that accompanied each three-weekly cycle. I wasn’t sure whether I was more concerned about following the instructor properly, or keeping my wig securely in place. 

The instructor and most of the class had no idea I was in the midst of treatment for Stage 3 HER2+ breast cancer, nor did I want them to be. Constant questions from the instructor and caring looks from my fellow ‘aerobic-ers’ would have been unhelpful; pity did not sit well with me.  I was going to get through this. 

And I did. Today I’m five and a half years out the other side: Happy and healthy and grateful for the part MOVEMENT played in my healing.  It wasn’t an insignificant part: as well as the weekly classes that I maintained throughout treatment, I walked every day – granted some days it was little more than dragging myself around our garden, but I did it, knowing that oxygenating my tired, weak body was important. 

As well as physical movement I MOVED creatively too: my book, Aerobics in a Wig details my faith journey through breast cancer. The experience moved me greatly and my words continue to move others. Writing was my voice when I had none, when cancer stole it, temporarily, my solace was found in pouring my emotions onto the page.  

My spirituality MOVED me too: I’m President of an English-speaking church.  Diagnosed the day of a leaders meeting, I sat with them and shared my news.  They prayed for me, which set the pattern for every meeting in the months that followed, every church service and in their daily prayers too.   

I drew great strength from knowing that I was not alone, my faith has never been stronger than when I sat in a waiting room, gowned-up, waiting for an MRI scan four months into treatment.  I weighed 46kg, had no muscle or hair on my body, I was emaciated, weak, but had my faith burning inside me.  The scan was clear.  “A normal breast”.  After being told that the 5.5cm tumour meant a certain mastectomy, my faith was sky high. 

I’ve created a MOVEMENT since healing too: my non-profit Double-Zero is the resource I wish I’d had when diagnosed.  I had no idea where to go.  Dr Google can be a dangerous place and happily I was guided to solid resources, Yes to Life being one of them.  Our cancer resource brings them together.  Yes to Life is there, of course, and we are delighted to be part of a bigger movement being featured on their site along with many others. 

Find out what MOVES you.  Keep doing it. And share it with others to create a MOVEMENT!

Denise Stevenson is the founder of health and wellness non-profit association Double-Zero and author of Aerobics in a Wig.