Student Spotlight

Who is Doug Comes?

I am 56 years old, born and raised in Sayville, Long Island NY. I moved to Florida in the late 70’s. Graduated from PT school in 1985 and moved to NC in 1986. I married my soulmate Jennifer Mackenzie in 1987 and have a 19 year old daughter Chandler who is a freshman at UNCW majoring in film studies. Jennifer is an adjunct professor at UNCW. She teaches advanced screen writing to graduate students.

Tell us a little bit about your life outside Wilmington Yoga Center

This is my 30th year as a PT. Other than my family it is my passion. I work at Onslow Memorial in Jacksonville in the acute care setting. I love working with patients one on one, really getting to know them and see them get well and go home.

I have always been into fitness and have been fortunate to have had good health most of my life.
In March of 2011 I began experiencing an unusual amount of fatigue with everyday activities, like going to the gym and working full time. One thing led to another and after some suspicious blood work and a swollen testicle I had a PET scan which showed I had stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was told ( months later after I was declared cancer free) that if I hadn’t started chemo right away I would’ve had about 2 months to live.
I underwent weeks of chemo At UNC cancer hospital during the spring and summer of 2011 and multiple radiation treatments and was cancer free by the end of that summer. I missed about 9 months of work and returned full time that fall. In December of 2013 I found a small lump…half the size of an eraser ….in my left groin. My cancer had returned. This time around I would undergo weeks of chemo again followed by a stem cell transplant in June of 2014.
At my absolute lowest moment during the stem cell transplant I was sicker than I ever thought imaginable to the point where I was seriously thinking about stopping the whole procedure and letting the cancer take its course. Jennifer and Chandler had been had been my rocks in 2011 and to see me go thru this again was brutal for them. At this very low point I didn’t want any visitors or family to see me…I was pretty close to giving up laying in the hospital bed in a chemo induced stupor when I feel this hand holding my hand…..It was my daughter Chandler and Jennifer who had come to see me despite me asking them not too. Chandler looks me straight in the eye with that incredible energy and says “dad you know we have a lot more things to do together” and she starts listing them ….shooting baskets at UNCW, jet skiing, movies, daddy daughter nite outs etc. At that moment my focus seem to clear almost instantly and I made the decision that I would recover from all of this somehow.

Tell us about your yoga journey

Before I was discharged from UNC on July 3rd, 2014 I had told Jennifer that I was going to start practicing yoga as a part of my recovery. Jennifer had been a Yoga practitioner for years and I being somewhat old school thought it was more for women and wouldn’t challenge me like going to the gym did. Jennifer had heard great things about WYC and thought it would be a great place for me to begin my practice.
On August 1st 2014 I went to my first Basic Class. I had lost over 20 lbs and was totally atrophied but I was present. On my first attempt at downward dog I could only hold the pose for a few seconds before my arms gave way. In fact I think I Spent most of the class in child’s pose.
Since August 1st I have been attending classes 3 days/wk. Last month I finally was able to maintain a headstand for 2 minutes independently, a major milestone for me. I’m hoping to hold the forearm stand scorpion in the next few months.

What is possible in your life as a result of yoga?

Yoga has done much more for me then I could have ever asked for. The meditations have helped me maintain a calmer internal environment and become more evolved as a person.

What or who inspires you?
Being able to take classes with Jennifer and Chandler has had its own powerful and healing effect. They have been my rock and anchor through this whole ordeal. They truly inspire me.
I am also inspired by all of the instructors at WYC. The passion just drips from everyone there and it carries over to the students.

I am cancer free once again and my prognosis is good. But for me it’s not about winning a fight against cancer it’s about how you live your life. I’m just grateful that I found yoga and yoga has found me.