This is part 2 of a 3-part series in a partnership with aalva + War on Cancer
Let’s rewind a bit/ My backstory:
I was already living an active and plant-based lifestyle when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 32. My breast cancer experience (including IVF egg freezing, two rounds of chemotherapy, and a month of daily radiation) taught me that it takes more than green juice and pilates class to be in top shape. What we put in and on our bodies – from food to social media content to tampons – has an impact on our overall wellness.
This is why I founded aalva, the first organic feminine care brand of its kind. Built on the Swedish principles of quality, sustainability and innovative design, aalva is created for women to have access to feminine care that truly cares for us.
xx Marley Kaplan
Founder & CEO, aalva
RSVP for membership pre-launch today
Predicting the unpredictable: Healthy living beyond cancer
“That’s not possible. I just finished a juice cleanse.” This was my first response to the doctor upon receiving the news that the lump I discovered in the shower just two weeks prior was indeed cancerous. I had already revamped my diet about 8 years earlier when I moved from London back to NYC. Living in different capitals and cultures opened my eyes to different ways of living and different food systems. After trying different ways of eating, I decided upon testing out a meat-free, low-sugar and light-to-no-dairy diet. This worked well for my lifestyle and I genuinely felt I was on the right path. I even began experimenting with making my own juices at home and found a rhythm for juicing as well.
I asked myself, “How could I have been diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 32 after my clean eating lifestyle changes for the better part of a decade?” Cancer doesn’t always – if ever – make sense. Since my results for the BRCA gene were negative, I felt lucky to know that my cancer diagnosis and treatment could potentially be a chapter of my life and not a saga. Since my breast cancer wasn’t genetic and it was early stage, I was told I have an excellent chance of not having further reoccurrence.
Going through forced menopause during chemotherapy was one of the most impactful experiences of my journey – both physically and mentally. It awakened me to think more consciously about my feminine body that I had taken for granted. Although I felt I had been living a healthy lifestyle before cancer, I wanted to explore clean, organic products outside of my diet. This is when I started researching and learning more about feminine care products. I learned how the big brand products usually contain toxins and added chemicals, especially tampons.
This is why I founded aalva. I want my experience to have an impact on the lives of women beyond myself, in a beautiful and lasting way. Not only are aalva’s 100% organic cotton feminine products designed beautifully by talented Stockholm-based female artists, they are also better for the environment: plastic-free, compostable and biodegradable. By choosing clean, organic feminine care products, we as women can look after our own health.
Building aalva has also helped with life beyond cancer for my mental wellbeing. Being able to combine my creativity, passion for wellness and experience with losing and regaining my menstruation has allowed me to find meaning in my journey with cancer. I have been able to write my own narrative and I am working towards reframing my breast cancer diagnosis into becoming a highlight in my life’s story.
Tips for incorporating wellness and clean living after cancer treatment:
- Think about what lights you up and will bring meaning to your life after cancer treatment.
- Search for local brands that are free of added bleaches, chemicals and added scents.
- Incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine. With greater body awareness and developing a mind-body connection, your body will guide you to care for it in the best way and vice versa.