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Yoga teacher takes the lead to help cancer patient

December 4, 2019
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

Yoga instructor Shannon Lehn is using her talents in the coming months to help her close friend deal with a tough battle. She is raising funds to help Colleen Ridel-Valdez in her battle with breast cancer.

Colleen, a Boardman High School graduate and longtime Boardman community resident was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in July of this year. She was placed on an aggressive program with chemotherapy treatment that had to be interrupted in October when a perforated ulcer required emergency surgery. That meant stopping the cancer treatment until after the surgery. She is now back on track and after the chemotherapy, she will undergo a double mastectomy, radiation and reconstructive surgery.

The treatment she is presently on leaves her extremely sick and unable to work. She and her fianc Joe have four children between them who are supportive, but Lehn wanted to help her friend get through the tough times and the financial burden it carries.

"Truth be told, I love Colleen so much, my goal is nothing short of a million dollars (half kidding)," Lehn said. "She has been down quite the road because of the complications due to her perforated ulcer and the delays that has caused. If we raise $10 for Colleen, I am happy, because its $10 more than she had."

Lehn is also the Austintown Farmer's Market manager and it was through the basket raffle at the Christmas Market recently that she was given the idea to use yoga to help Colleen.

"At the Christmas Market, I was so happy and gratified to see so many people support my cousin, Colleen, with our basket raffle.," Lehn said. "I had been asked by several people if I would ever teach beer and yoga or cursing and yoga, rage yoga, etc. Well, I've been missing teaching and this seems as if it might be as good an opportunity as any to do some good with what I have been blessed to learn."

With that direction now set, Lehn has scheduled several yoga fund raisers over the next couple months to help raise funds for Colleen as she continues her battle. The first event will take place this Sunday.

On Dec. 8 at 9:30 a.m., Lehn will be teaching "Unleash Your Inner Beast Yoga." The event will take place at The Manor Restaurant in Austintown.

Release the Inner Beast Yoga is designed with postures and breathwork to enable individuals to release the stress and tension that they have pushed down, that they have not allowed themselves to express and/or feel.

"Cursing is not necessary, but acceptable," Lehn said. "Everybody needs to do what is comfortable for themselves. For some people, this might mean pranayama (yogic breathwork) and for others it might be cursing and yelling. Each person has to do what's best for them and these options will be available during the class. With releasing this negative energy, the intention is to move forward into the holidays and the new year with clarity and having a psyche that is not burdened with frustrations that have been fermenting."

She said the postures used in this class will be appropriate for all levels and modifications offered as necessary. The fee is $20 and includes a light meal and beverage following the class. Half the money pays for the lunch and the other half goes to Colleen. Lehn said her time is all donated. Those interested can call 330-770-6785 to register.

The second Yoga event is "Yoga and Margarita Brunch." It will also take place at The Manor on Jan. 19 at 9:30 a.m. and the price and phone number for registering are the same.

"For the rage and cursing yoga, have you ever felt like you've just got something that you have pushed down," Lehn said. "We all have situations w here we have to suppress how we really feel, for whatever reason. We have to stuff it down. All of that stays with us and sits with us. I personally feel it right in that spot where my xiphoid process would be - probably my gut. It sits there for me. Have you ever felt like you just needed to yell to get it out? Especially going into the holiday season. It could be someone cut you off in traffic, it could be a work or family situation, it could be worry and stress and anxiety and we stuff it all in."

The final yoga session is set for Feb. 9, 9:30 a.m. at The Manor and will be titled Partner Yoga with chocolate and wine. Again, same phone number and cost.

Lehn is also continuing to raise funds other ways as well. On Jan. 12 from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., she is putting on a spaghetti dinner at the Ancient Order of Hibernians Hall, 5110 Southern Blvd., Boardman,

For tickets or donations call or text 330-770-6785 or 330-716-3704.

Finally, Lehn will likely have another basket or similar fundraiser at the Last Minute Market on Dec. 20 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Township Park. She said this market will be the final one for 2019 and will include vendors, food trucks, face painting and a healthy cooking demonstration. It will also be a great place for customers to fill those last minute gift ideas.

In the end, Lehn is hoping to pull enough money together to help get Colleen through her rough battle.

"I don't have a number on how much would be the goal to raise," Lehn said. "I can tell you this, if these yoga classes are well received, I would like to continue on with them for other charitable causes in the future. I feel I can help others through these yoga programs and I love to teach and share what I have been taught with others."



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