I know Mother's Day is a few days past, but I wanted to take a moment and honor my good friend Brienne, one of the bravest mamas I know. Brienne's a single mom with two adorable kids: Josie and Lucas. This time last year, she was in the hospital battling leukemia, and was too sick to spend Mother's Day with her kids. But today (as you can see in the picture above), she's feeling great, and got to spend Sunday celebrating life with her little ones!

You can read more about Brienne's story here, but here's a quick re-cap: a little over a year ago, she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia – a type of fast-acting cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). She was hospitalized immediately and underwent several rounds of intensive chemotherapy. Over the course of her 11-month treatment (which included monthly chemo, 30 lumbar punctures, and 5 bone marrow biopsies), she lost a lot: her hair, her ability to work, time with her kids, her appetite, her normal life, and at times, hope.


However, Brienne's a fighter. She was determined that cancer wouldn't get the best of her, and she fought hard to get her health back so she could be with her kids, and get back to teaching Barre Amped classes. She had the most incredibly positive attitude throughout her treatment, and kept the doctors and nurses laughing while she was in the hospital. (If you know Brienne at all, you know she's hilarious.) Today, Brienne's cancer is in remission, and she's feeling healthy again. She's coaching her daughter's soccer team, volunteering at her son's school, and is back to teaching barre. (I went to one of her classes a few weeks ago in Nashville, and was amazed at her energy!) She has to continue with lower doses of chemo for the next several years, but her chances of staying cancer-free are extremely high.

Last year, when her treatment began, I held a granola fundraiser on the blog, and I was blown away by how many of you all donated money towards her treatment: together, you raised over $5000 in a week!! Brienne was so touched by your generosity (as was I).

For those of you that supported her a year ago, I wanted to share an exciting update: Brienne has been nominated as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) Woman of the Year! It's a huge honor to receive this nomination, and I can't think of a more deserving person. In order to actually win the award, she has to raise $50,000 for LLS by June 18, 2015.


The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is an incredible organization that funds research for new cancer therapies, and provides support to patients and their families. For more than 60 years, LLS has invested more than $1 billion to advance cancer therapy and save lives. Last year alone LLS invested nearly $74 million into cutting-edge research.

Brienne asked me to join her fundraising team to help her meet her goal, and I know, collectively, we can make it happen! Here's how you can help:

-Go to Brienne's fundraising site and make a tax-deductible donation. 100% of the donations go directly to LLS to fund research, to develop new leukemia and lymphoma treatments, and to help patients battling cancer or living in remission. I figured if everyone who reads this post donates even $5 (the price of a latte!), we can help her meet her goal!

-As a little incentive, I'm giving away 3 signed, pre-release copies of my cookbook to LLS donors! If you donate $25 or more, you'll be entered into the drawing, and I'll announce the winners next Wednesday, May 20th. Just comment below to let me know you've donated.

-Finally, please share this blog post with your friends on social media and help spread the word! After all Brienne's been through, I want to share her story far and wide, so that others who are battling leukemia will be encouraged: there is hope for a healthy future!

Thanks for your help, friends! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. And if you're feeling healthy, be so incredibly thankful – good health is a gift we often take for granted until it's gone.

xo, Anna