In March of this 2011 I was honored and proud to host the Kicking Cancer Carnival for Jill Hayward-Pentoney. A strong, big hearted, loving woman, Jill was battling what started out as fallopian tube cancer that had spread elsewhere in her body. Our amazing community of women came together and raised $9,000 to help replace lost income while she couldn’t work.
Jill first entered my life on Oct. 22, 2007. The very first day my yoga studio opened. A few days before the opening she was at her hairdresser’s saying that she was tired of the high energy, intense workouts she had been doing at the gym and that she wanted to find a yoga teacher. That very day when she got home there was a postcard in her mailbox announcing the opening of Yoga in the Vines.
It was Divine timing.
Since opening day, Jill was one of my most dedicated students. She came as often as possible, usually several days a week. Plus she came to every special workshop and extra event. She even had a private yoga birthday party in Oct. 2008!
When she was first diagnosed with cancer and needed surgery in Dec. of 2008, I visited her in the hospital. It was one year since she had begun a regular yoga practice.
Her doctors were amazed at how quickly she recovered and how strong she was. She was sent home earlier than they anticipated.
Jill credited her recovery to her yoga practice and began calling me her yoga angel. I was touched and honored. It is a special gift and calling to touch someone so deeply with yoga. I wanted to do all I could to live up to such trust and gratitude.
Jill came to the studio for private yoga lessons while she underwent treatment through May of that year.
Jill was skinny, bald and weak, but survived. She was able to teach during the 2009-2010 school year, and she and Casey got married on New Year’s Eve. At that point, everything was fine and Jill felt like a warrior who had defeated cancer.
She had 15 cancer free months.
Jill used that time to practice yoga and began Yoga Flirt practice as well. For someone who had major abdominal surgery she was amazing, doing things like handstands, and climbing and spinning on a 12 foot pole!
Jill’s cancer turned out to be non-responsive to treatment and continued to grow. On September 14, 2010 Jill needed a second surgery to remove more tumors. Everyone was expecting a simpler surgery and much less cancer. We were all wrong.
During the next year, I did private yoga with Jill in her home while she underwent further treatment. It was free of charge, my gift to her for loving and trusting me so much, her yoga angel. I was sure to study specific poses and sequences to promote physical, emotional and spiritual well being.
I tried to visit and do yoga with her at least once a week. During the last couple of months, she often had to cancel because she was too sick for me to come over.
That time was a true gift and blessing to me.
Jill was always open and honest. She had a pure, open heart and was never afraid to share her love with others. She taught me so much about love, friendship, loyalty and honesty. To trust in myself and not fear love.
My last yoga practice with Jill was on Sept. 15. She was very thin, weak and taking strong medication. I climbed up in her bed, and saw not her weak body but her heart, glowing and shining right out through her eyes.
We breathed. We stretched. We joked. It was the same beautiful soul I had known for these last 4 years.
That is how I knew she taught me more than I had ever taught her.
I can honestly say for the first time in my life, at almost 40, I learned to not see the physical body at all, but to see the soul. The true, pure white light being that resides within us all.
I am so deeply grateful for the Divine timing that brought Jill into my life 4 short years ago.
Her beautiful spirit left her body and she passed away on during the early morning of Friday Sept. 30, 2011.
I am honored and blessed to know that now Jill is my Yoga Angel.
Cathy Weiss is a yogini, pole dancer, wife extraordinaire, mom to multiple cats & dogs, the Queen Flirt, and Nationally Recognized Expert and Founder of Yoga Flirt®. Her passion and enthusiasm has been supporting women to embody their femininity by becoming bona fide Yoga Flirts since 2009. You can find her here.