A year of challenges: Facing cancer during COVID-19 pandemic

Joanah Canela Bodero built a career in the medical field, but always dreamed of opening her own fitness and wellness center.

“One day I came home from a shift and I was very tired and my daughter came up to me, 5 years old, and said ‘Mommy are you happy?’, and that kind of resonated with me. I realized I wasn’t happy, I was just kind of running myself ragged and getting tired and overworked,” she said.

After a year of planning, Bodero and her husband opened Ocean Life Studio in February 2020, then the pandemic hit.

“And then we got a mandate March 17, 2020 because of COVID to close down,” she said.

The studio reopened in the summer of 2020 but late last year Bodero was faced with a personal challenge: a diagnosis of breast cancer.

“So initially they said it was an aggressive cancer and to get it out as soon as possible,” Bodero said.

Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Joshua Lampert said Bodero’s positive attitude made all the difference in her recovery.

“To see someone with a fair amount of work every day and beyond the average level of what I’d say ‘stress’ really just come in with a smile on her face and just look at it like ‘what do I have to do’, and take care of it makes her a really good role model especially for this month when we’re trying to encourage people to go in for screening and pick things up early,” Lampert said.

Added Bodero: “I had confidence in him as a doctor so that made the process a little less scary.”

She said she follows a simple philosophy about life that corresponds with her love of the ocean, ‘Just ride the waves’.

“And I’m using that phrase a lot, ‘just ride the waves’, because we don’t know, we don’t know which wave will come,” she said.

Bodero has been able to regain her strength and is now back to living out her dream.

At her daughters suggestion she’s expanded the studio to include a children’s fitness program.

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