Portraits of Courage

For yoga instructor Tiffany Friedman, the decision to publicly chronicle her battle with breast cancer reflects a commitment to shine a light on the disease she says has been a challenge … and a blessing.

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    Marlene Stang

Tiffany Friedman received the news just a few weeks after her 44th birthday: She had invasive breast cancer. 

She would also later learn that she was BRCA2-positive and therefore genetically predisposed to arrive at this fork in the road. Tiffany’s paternal grandmother had passed away from the disease at just 45. But soon after receiving the sobering diagnosis, the lifelong athlete, yoga instructor and owner of Haute Yogi yoga studio in Manhattan Beach decided to fight.  

Just a week prior, in fact, Tiffany’s 14-year-old daughter, Shelby, had received a key pendant with the word “fight” stamped onto it. She was given the key by a friend who had drawn comfort from it while her brother recovered from an accident.  

In the moment, the gift seemed random. But as soon as Tiffany was diagnosed, Shelby recognized that the key was, in fact, meant for her mom. Tiffany has worn the pendant ever since.

While undergoing chemotherapy (and still teaching two to three yoga classes a week), Tiffany made the bold decision to share her journey—through photos and reflections—on Facebook. That decision, like the decision to pose for the photos you’re seeing here, was part and parcel of her personal mission to remain transparent and authentic. In the process, many people have reached out to Tiffany to share how her journey has impacted them, or simply to offer their support.  

And of course, through it all, there’s been yoga. Tiffany notes that teaching yoga has kept her ego in check. “Losing your hair is an emotional thing, but when you’re in front of your class, baring your soul as an instructor, your hair (or lack of it) suddenly becomes less important.”

As she rounds the bend on her course of treatment, her overwhelming feeling is one of gratitude—for her family, friends and the community at Haute Yogi who’ve walked beside her throughout her journey. 

She states, “They’ve brought me meals and gifts, given me rides, and always provided me with love and support. I truly feel that I am blessed to experience this. Life is a gift, and it is important to cherish every day. Enjoy your friends and family and wonderful community.”