Photo:  Megan Sorel

Owner of Pilates and Yoga Studio

I teach Pilates. Most of my clients have back pain or scoliosis or have had back injuries or surgeries. They live in fear of their bodies being in pain, so they come to me and trust me because I too have had hip surgeries, abdominal surgeries, lots of surgeries. I understand that fear and working on not judging your body. I teach them to love their bodies the way they are and to use their bodies in a functional way to help them heal.

WHAT SHE DOES FOR LOVE: I love dancing. Dancing frees my soul. I dance whenever I can. I am going through chemo now and when I dance, my mind escapes. Dancing is my medicine. I love to garden, spend time with my friends, but mostly spend quality time with my kids when I have them because I am a single mom. My time with my kids is precious. My new passion that I discovered because of my cancer is writing. I never thought I could write. I was afraid to write because it wouldn’t be good enough. But now, I just need to tell my story and now I’m only focused on things that matter to me and make me happy.

HER 2015 GOALS: I have many goals for 2015. My first goal is to SURVIVE cancer. That means becoming a spiritual warrior. My second goal, which I have already started is to live my life in the NOW. I want to be fully present in every moment of every day.  My goal is to enjoy all the little things in life that we often take for granted-  and that is a lot of things! My third goal is to finish writing my book, the story of my life and journey with cancer. It has been my entire life struggle. I want to change the story of cancer from something horrible to something that helped me find my voice again. It may sound cliche, but cancer has awakened me and given me another chance at having the life I want versus the life others have wanted for me. I want to make my first fitness video for cancer patients, cancer survivors or anyone who suffers from fatigue or depression to get up and move. I always wanted to make a video, but never believed in myself enough to do it until now.  My most important goal is to become a motivational speaker for women, especially those who are or want to be self-employed business women. I want to inspire single moms and all women who wish to learn how to become independent to believe in themselves. I want to teach the world to remember that your present situation is not your final destination; the best is yet to come! My goal is to inspire women on every path to find courage, self-respect, and dignity in their unique journey, and to stay strong and determined against the odds.

NOMINATED BY: Aija Mayrock

WHY SHE'S A LADY GUN: "Emilee Garfield (in her 30s) is a beautiful, funny, and very talented Pilates instructor from my hometown. She was recently diagnosed with cancer of, how she puts it "the girly parts," for the third time in her young life. Yet, she is the most positive person I know, even dancing her way through chemo and continuing to practice dance and Pilates even through her treatment. She is also an incredible writer and documents her journey here. She is an inspiration to me to always see the light in the dark."

HER INITIAL REACTION TO HER LADY GUNS NOMINATION: I was very excited, honored and surprised. Good things don’t come my way often, and this was one of the first good things to happen to me in a while. I thought, “Wow, I really do matter. My story does matter and my story is inspiring many others.”

I met Aija through her mom who I taught as one of my clients. Her mom always says, "You’re a gift, you don’t know what a gift you are. You are changing all the lives around you and you don’t even know it." I just do what I do. And Aija started to come to me as a client as well and was inspired to me as she told me about her book about bullying. We had a lot in common being bullied and she told me to write my feelings in a journal. I’d never written anything in my life until I began writing about my cancer journey and my divorce. I’m just truthful and honest and vulnerable and raw and through this I’ve begun healing myself, and people have begun to follow me on my journey. This 18-year-old girl taught me that my story matters and I started gaining confidence.

Photo:  Megan Sorel
"I am strong. I will not let cancer win!" |  Photo: Courtesy Emilee Garfield

"I am strong. I will not let cancer win!" | Photo: Courtesy Emilee Garfield

ON FIGHTING: I am a cancer survivor. I had a rare cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma at the age of four. I had pre-cancer of my cervix in college and ended up having a hysterectomy at the age of 21. I was unable to have children on my own, but through a miracle, I had my own biological kids through a surrogate mom. I was told I would never have kids. My kids are miracles. Now, my biggest challenge is fighting cancer for the second time. This time I have Stage 3 ovarian cancer. I think the biggest challenge is going through a divorce at the same time I am fighting cancer. It’s hard to think of fighting over material things when I'm literally fighting for my life everyday. There is just too much fighting all around me. I need to heal myself mentally, physically and emotionally so that I have a chance at survival.

Photo:  Megan Sorel
Photo:  Megan Sorel

HER STYLE + BEAUTY: I love to wear my Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo eyeshadow in Bad To The Bronze. It makes me feel pretty. And when you have cancer you don’t feel pretty. So I like to put that on and my Covergirl LashBlast Volume Mascara. And I swear by my tarte blush. It takes me like three minute to get ready. I put on my dangly hoop earrings because they make me feel feminine. If I’m not teaching yoga I like to wear jeans, a t-shirt and flip flops because we live by the beach in Santa Barbara. I just like to be very casual. But most days I’m in my lululemon yoga clothes.

" I was a table host at the Teddy Bear Foundation, helping   to raise money for   families with kids with cancer." |   Photo: Megan Sorel

"I was a table host at the Teddy Bear Foundation, helping to raise money for families with kids with cancer." | Photo: Megan Sorel

Photo: Courtesy Emilee Garfield    

Photo: Courtesy Emilee Garfield  

LADIES SHE ADMIRES: I admire Tracey Mallett because she is a fitness guru and an entrepreneur.  I met her years back in the Pilates world. She’s like a goddess to me and everyone loves her. She is a strong woman who just goes for it. She inspires me because she’s motivated, innovative and so creative. She has a vision and doesn’t let anyone stop her. I have been in a few of Tracy’s fitness videos and she has inspired me to make my own videos. Tracey has taught me to go for things. Things don’t come to you. You have to make it happen. I live by this now.

If the unchallenged life is meaningless, then think how much meaning there is in your life.

My best friend Ann Tro also inspires me. She’s been my rock. She’s been there for me through my divorce and when life was unbearable. There were days that I just didn't know if I could go on. When I was in the hospital, she and her husband took care of me. I’m not religious, but they are. I just wanted the pain to go away. She would text me everyday to check in and send passages. She literally saved my life. Ann told me I’d get through this and that in the end life was going to be better than it had been. I had to deal with a lot of emotional trauma, but she’d tell me that it doesn’t matter what people say because you know the truth and she got me through it. I couldn’t even function, had hit rock bottom, and she helped me through everything. She and her husband and their great family supported me. I love her and she just loves me no matter what and she inspires me to be a better person -- I have changed because of her. And I want her to know that. It’s hard to say thank you to someone, because the words aren’t enough. She never abandoned me and that’s a true friend.

ON TAKING CONTROL: Believe in yourself. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that your story doesn’t matter. Other people's judgments and nasty comments are not your problem. That is their own shit! You have the power to take control.

Photo: Courtesy Emilee Garfield

Photo: Courtesy Emilee Garfield

These are angel cards I made to hand out to the other cancer patients during chemo to keep them inspired. I hand them out to anyone when I see they are having a sad day.