Megan Pischke has long been a friend of Mizu. From her early days as a professional snowboarder to her years running retreats with Boarding For 4 Breast Cancer (B4BC), she has always embodied the strong, socially conscious, nature loving spirit of woman we so admire.
Her journey took her on an unexpected twist in 2012 when she received her own breast cancer diagnosis. Rather than disappear from public view during her battle, Megan bravely documented her journey in collaboration with B4BC through the short film Chasing Sunshine. Her battle to overcome a major health challenge is inspirational to everyone facing major obstacles in their life, but the way Megan continues to embrace life and squeeze out every last drop of every day is where we stand most in awe.
You have run retreats for cancer survivors for several years in collaboration with B4BC. What inspired you to start that?
My girlfriend Barrett Christy-Cummins and I used to host retreat weekends for a few years in the early 2000’s. When Barrett decided to start a family, I wanted to take the retreats to a new level. I wanted to include more of a health and wellness aspect beyond the yoga we had included. There was so much I was interested in learning about with naturopathic/holistic types of healing. And we had always included our beloved friends at B4BC with doing fundraising during our events. So I started to partner with them (B4BC) to sponsor women to come to the events for free. This helped start the Survivorship Fund program that is currently active and helps support girls to get to these retreats on scholarships. I’m inspired by the girls I have met along the way.
You also run retreats in Costa Rica under the Chasing Waterfalls name. Tell us a little more about that.
My family and I have been visiting Costa Rica for 13 years. The communities of beautiful people, along with the ocean and jungle life, have provided so much adventure and healing for us, it has become like another home. There is so much about this place and its energies and inhabitants that I’ve always wanted to share, so the Chasing Waterfalls retreats were born from that desire.
We surf in waters with turtles and migrating humpback whales. We hike hot springs at the base of Central Americas’ highest peak, and visit with an indigenous healer. There is yoga, organic meals, monkeys, and of course waterfalls. I believe we all deserve to experience this kind of nature, and its important for us as humans to do so.
How has your personal journey with cancer affected how you view your physical and emotional wellbeing now?
That’s an interesting question because my view on my physical and emotional health has always been front and center, and extremely important to me. From when I was young, I knew what kept me happy was exactly what I was supposed to be doing- and often this meant being active. Being active and being emotionally “healthy” went hand in hand. And they still do! Interestingly enough, my journey led me along the path of learning to be still. I had to go the opposite route for a minute, for many minutes, days, months. I had to learn what it meant for me to sit still when all was chaos, in my body, in my mind and sometimes in my heart. When before, I would run, I would ride, I would surf, I would use my lungs and legs and arms to tune out. And then after the adrenaline subsided, then I would find my peace. Now I had to sit still, to just breathe, to listen to my heartbeat, to not let my thoughts run wild. I had to learn to be in the moment without moving. It was so hard to do for me. My meditation was always high energy. So on my journey with cancer, being still and finding peace in that has been one of my biggest lessons. Nowadays I’m back to being super active again and needing that high-octane energy release. I chase my kids around and make time for yoga, surf, bike or whatever. But I also make time for nothing- actually every day I find time to listen to my heartbeat while being still.
We know you already lived a pretty healthy lifestyle prior to that. What changes have you implemented during and since your illness to achieve the healthiest "you" possible?
You’re right, I did feel like I had a pretty healthy lifestyle before cancer and that’s why it was quite scary and shocking, as it was kind of like “now what?!” I really had to break things down in every direction and tweak my diet a bit, change my attitude some, work through some insecurities (actually be done with them) and heal my heart. And for me, my main thing was figure out how to change how I dealt with stress- and what stress was to me physically, physiologically and emotionally. And to learn what it is that my body needs right now, at this moment. I believe that we as humans are constantly changing, everything is pretty temporary, and to remind myself to be more flexible and fluid, and that it’s ok to change. So for me, it’s like this constant ebb and flow of “what do I need today?” I feel like I check in with myself more often then maybe I did before. Not paranoid, just making sure I get enough sleep/rest, water, nature, self-love and joy, every single day.
If you could pass on one piece of advice to women, what would it be?
Forgiveness. And to work towards what this means for you. This has been such a huge lesson for me in this life, and at times a daily practice. Not only the kind where I forgive the car in front of me for cutting me off- but deep down soulful release of all the crap like anger, building up walls and resentment that keep me stuck and unable to move forward. Believe me I get it, not all things are forgettable- but I personally ponder the idea of what if all things were forgivable? To me it’s about being conscious and acknowledging that we all are human, and we all, somewhere inside, have a divine connection. For me it’s not about saying, “What you did/said to me was ok.” Its more like, “We all make mistakes.” I believe that’s one of the things we are here to do here – to be come more conscious of ourselves under all circumstances, how to move forward on our paths, and ultimately to keep finding the love. I know that carrying around even small amounts of unforgiving feelings has weighed me down and held me back. I have found forgiveness to be a struggle, but more often, quite liberating and healing to truly feel and practice.
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