October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and for the past seven years, it has been the tradition for Shannon Higgins, owner of Studio Barre, to advocate for the support of breast cancer awareness and research.
Through her La Costa exercise studio, and sister studios in La Jolla and Carmel Valley, free month-long memberships for cancer survivors and donation-only classes helped raise funds for the Apryle Showers Foundation and Keep-A-Breast Foundation, which also partnered in a “Girls Night Out” hosted by Studio Barre at Solana Beach’s Belly Up Tavern. The night included a concert by Atomic Groove and dance performances by the Fly Girls.
“It was a great crowd of people and was a tear-jerker, as people came and were able to share their stories about their own breast cancer experiences,” said Higgins.
A year and a half ago, Higgins founded the Studio Barre franchise. Now her efforts to support cancer research have gone national, as all nine franchise Studio Barres offered similar fundraising programs through October.
This year, Higgins’ personal efforts came very close to home: She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and is fighting the fight against a disease where 99 percent of all women in the United States will be affected, whether through their own diagnosis or through a loved one who has been diagnosed.
Higgins has started a Facebook page to share her battle with the disease. Titled “Shannon Higgins Fight Like a Girl,” her status postings include daily updates about her experience that are upbeat so that people aren’t really afraid of the disease. “And what more timely a month is there to get a breast cancer diagnosis?” she asked rhetorically.
It was through a self-exam that Higgins was first alerted to her own breast cancer. She then tested positive for the BRCA gene, which increases the chances of breast cancer.
She underwent four rounds of chemotherapy treatment, but had an allergic response to it. Consequently, on Nov. 18, she will undergo a double mastectomy; and because of the presence of the breast cancer gene, will also have her ovaries surgically removed.
“This gene is something that the medical community is really focusing on,” commented Higgins. “Ironically, the breast cancer may be what ultimately saves my life, as ovarian cancer is not one that is easily cured.”
Because of the discovery of the BRCA gene, Higgins’ mother is also going to be tested. If she has the gene, she will also have her ovaries removed, said Higgins.
Every year since Studio Barre first opened its doors, Higgins has supported breast cancer research because she lost a cousin to the disease. “That’s why October is always a big month for us.”
The events staged locally this year saw “a huge outpouring of support from people,” said Higgins. “We’ve even had nurses come in and explain how to give self breast exams, and I had clients who, because of this, actually found lumps. So I didn’t get cancer just to get cancer, I’m pretty sure I got cancer to help out other people.”
Studio Barre in La Costa will be relocating to Encinitas in mid-November. Its new location will be on El Camino Real in the TJ Maxx shopping center. Classes involve focused isolation-based movements to upbeat music in a boutique setting and are suitable for all ages and abilities.
Visit http://studiobarre.com/la-costa/aboutto learn more about Studio Barre, or call 760-633-2243. Like the “Shannon Higgins Fight Like A Girl” Facebook page to get updates on Higgins’ personal battle with cancer.