Cancer Survivor Finds Strength Through Yoga

Photos by Melanie Shields Photography and Joel Bedford

Most of us are aware that the ancient East Indian practice of Yoga has spread like wildfire internationally over the past ten years. Yes, most of us are aware that it physically, mentally and spiritually benefits us. But for Alan Viau, a triple cancer survivor, the practice took on a whole new meaning.

At the end of November 2014 Alan was told he had three separate cancers over the course of three weeks: kidney, bladder and prostate. This extremely rare news hit him and his family hard, as you all can imagine. Before being diagnosed, Alan had been practicing yoga since an ankle injury in 2011. His wife Maureen insisted he take up the activity to help him heal, but once the cancer was announced Yoga became an important daily routine.

Being overwhelmed at the start, all Alan could think about was “how am I going to survive this?” It was on December 21st of that year, that he found mental strength. He was doing a set of sun salutations, when he realized it was all about giving absolute purpose to each movement. You can’t finish the set without doing each motion. As a result, Alan applied this mentality to his upcoming surgeries and testing.

The treatments started off rough with a bladder spasm during his bladder surgery recovery. He experienced a brief blackout, and said it was a ten on the pain scale. This is when he knew his breathing exercises would assist him through the journey.

His right kidney operation was six hours long, with one test having a four inch needle inserted into the middle of his back. This left him with five scars. Finally, his open prostate surgery was last. They cut through six inches of abdominal wall, leaving him with four scars. He found he couldn’t sit up straight using his abdominal muscles, so he ended up using his traverse abdominals to sit up sideways – all thanks to his core practices.  

Through his yoga routines he became more grounded, more motivated and eventually cancer free by the end of his treatments.

It has taken him over a year to finally feel ready to make something of his story, as Alan has been on a journey of personal growth and discovery. He has dreamt of planning a yoga retreat for a while to share his experience, and as of recently is making it a reality.

On March 26th 2017, Alan is co-leading a Prana Yoga retreat in Wakefield, Québec.

Surrounded by forested mountain peeks, it will be held at the breathtaking Le Belvédère.

For all information on the upcoming event, go to

The day is filling up fast, as this is a unique event.

Experiencing Alan’s inspiring story in person is not one to miss.