Inspiration Behind Wigwam
by Jennifer Lingvall, Founder of Wigwam Fest
I am grateful for my body every day – that I have the ability to move and be alive. For a brief time, I wasn’t sure that would be the case. Three years ago I was diagnosed with an aggressive triple negative breast cancer. I was barely 31 (w/ no family history) & living with my boyfriend, whose mother was also fighting breast cancer; only she was in stage IV.
It was a major awakening. I seriously considered following her path and moving to the Eastern hemisphere to explore natural healing; but my tumor was off the charts aggressive and my docs were of course very against it (not to mention the strong-willed Steve Jobs had just lost that battle). So, I decided it was probably best to approach healing with a combination of Eastern + Western methods.
I was the producer of a party company…
I started taking a new kind of cocktail: 8 rounds of nasty chemo straight from the mixologist … but! I paired it with every resource I could get my hands on: detox plans, choking down Chinese herbs 4x/day (so gross!), listening to sound therapy (still our #1 go to when we can’t sleep), going to acupuncture 3x/week, practicing mediation, doing yoga, sitting in foot baths, exploring essential oils, juicing, trying hypnotherapy (thank GOD for this), I cleaned out my food + beauty cabinets, revisited my diet, swapped over to safe cleaning products, Durga became my best friend. I tried everything.
Meanwhile, there were parties to be thrown.
A St Patricks Day Festival
A few days after my first chemo treatment, I threw an art auction. (My mom & sis came down to help).
I knew my hair was going to fall out, so I got a mohawk from Mandy. Other people got them, too. Trey and Maria somehow grew more hair. Odd.
Threw a date auction fundraiser.
Then I threw a 5K.
And a gallery exhibition for the OLG kiddos.
Then my hair fell out. You know when you have thought where you want to be a rebel & shave your head like Natalie Portman in “V for Vendetta“? That’s a good idea for about a day. It was actually gone. It has been three years now, and only recently reached a length where I feel like confident (or like a girl) again. I never knew how much that defined me until it was gone. Totally ridiculous. I will say there was a part of me that felt like I earned some sort of badge & that it was cleansing in some strange way.
Almost six months later, Erik and I went to Key West for a “Bon Voyage, Tata’s” trip. It was the only time I wasn’t sporting a beanie.
When we got back, I went in to have a double mastectomy and full reconstruction. Two major female parts that define a woman: my hair, and my lady parts…gone. That night before surgery I had a naked cry fest staring at my marked up breasts for the last time in the mirror. I hope none of you every have to do that. The reality is, I have multiple girlfriends that have been diagnosed, some of which I met through this experience. Others have been in my group of girlfriends for years. About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
When I got out of surgery – the doctors told me that they could not find my tumor. That the chemotherapy (eh hem, and other million zillion “weapons” I brought to the fight!) had done it’s work – literally destroyed it. My oncologist later told me that we went into that fight with a 20% chance chemo would have been effective. TWENTY. I was deemed to have “complete pathologic remission”.
With the help of my army (see: Lineup), I slowly picked myself up off the ground. I dabbled in exercise. One night, I told Erik I was thinking about taking a dance class. He, of course, jumped online and put that thought into action. I went the next day and fell in love with moving my body all over again. I’ll never forget the healing prisms of light reflecting off the beveled edge mirrors on to the floor. It is still a constant healing light for me & is reflected in the prismatic branding of Wigwam.
I decided to take my second chance a little more seriously.
One month after my final surgery, Erik proposed.
We ran off to get married in Bali.
His mother, a goddess healer herself, passed shortly after. (Love you Mama Ling).
Wigwam has been a vision for some time, inspired by the brilliant resources either I’ve personally had the honor of experiencing or someone from the core team has sworn by. I think I’m still here because I can be a resource for all of the seekers out there. I have a gift for presenting experiences in a fun way – the instructors are the real magic where guests come alive. Hope you will join us for an adventure that will inspire and excite. Your Wigwam adventure awaits…