Lynn Sage runner Dani Sittloh encourages support network after a breast cancer loss
“Will you be my angel?”
That’s the question then-23-year-old Danielle Sittloh asked as her mother was losing her battle against breast cancer. Now seventeen years later, Dani knows there’s no doubt her mother has been her angel, shaping many life choices despite her physical absence. However, there have been many angels — of all kinds — guiding Dani along the way.
“If it helps even one person to share my story, then it’s worth it. There is an amazing group of people in Chicago who have helped me. It really does take a village. It’s ok and important to get the support you need.”
Dani first learned this lesson by watching her mother, Shari Hoffman, impact so many people over the years.
“Hundreds of people came to her funeral. It was the most people I had ever seen. She touched every life that crossed her path.”
In fact, Shari’s picture still hangs in the nurses’ station in Lake Forest Hospital, along with a plaque outside her room where she received hospice care. A foundation was established in her name for nursing students. A painting hangs at Meadowbrook Elementary School where she was a reading specialist and teacher’s aide for many years. There is a big, beautiful tree that has been planted and grown on the hospital grounds in Shari’s honor that Dani and her husband visit on special anniversaries.
After the crowds faded and the years passed, Dani says it took a while to come to terms with the meaning of her mother’s loss.
“Each moment in my adult life has been different because of my mom’s absence. One can still operate daily, thrive in a high stress environment, succeed to the fullest AND feel good while having experienced loss. However, I knew I needed extra support to deal with all of it as a whole.”
Over the last two decades, Dani has worked with inspirational mentors and practitioners throughout Chicagoland. Through acupuncture, nutrition, chiropractic work, energy work and talk therapy, Dani has received invaluable tools and guidance to help herself and, in turn, share with her family, friends and clients. With the intent to help individuals help themselves, she has always wished her mom knew the amazing team of people who have supported her along the way. Perhaps, Dani’s network could have been a part of her mom’s team too. Eventually, Dani stepped away from her first career in the FinTech Industry to connect with her second as a CranioSacral therapist, Reiki master and teacher, and yoga and meditation instructor. After time and healing, she found the right fit to make a mark in the fight against breast cancer.
“I joined Team Lynn Sage because I wanted to be part of something bigger than me. The team is helping me as much as I’m helping them. There is something so special to come together when we have all been touched by something so devastating and life changing as breast cancer.”
This October, Dani joins ten other Team Lynn Sage members to run the 40th anniversary of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Considering that exercise has the biggest impact on preventing breast cancer than any other lifestyle factor, breast cancer research and endurance sports are a great fit. Runners will raise funds for the Lynn Sage Scholars program, supporting emerging researchers investigating novel approaches to the field of breast cancer.
“I’m running for my mom, for me, for my team. I’m running to help anyone I can. This is another chapter in my journey. Self-care happens in stages as we begin to peel back the layers. Sometimes you can do it on your own. Other times, space is created to ask for help.”