OREM — Sometimes you don't just need a change of pace. Sometimes you need to start over.
Despite a highly successful career, Jen Schnabel ended up walking away from it.
"I was a corporate executive for the last 20 years, and just spending a lot of time traveling, a lot of stress," said Schnabel. "I worked for IBM … for the services organization, so I was responsible for everything west of the Mississippi. I traveled almost every week."
After a friend dragged her to a yoga class, her life was never the same.
"My first reaction was, 'No way. I'm not going to do anything related to hot yoga,'" she said. "But I went, and it was really hard, but I felt amazing afterwards."
For her, that first class came at the perfect time.
"I had some life events happen, and needed to slow down," Schnabel said. "As soon as they say you have cancer, it's like your blood stops flowing, and starts flowing the other direction up to your head, and it's just total shock."
In 2004, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. She says it was a difficult experience, but one she'd never trade.
"I feel like I'm part of a club I never wanted to join," Schnabel said. "But a club that I never want to leave, because there's so many awesome women that have been affected by this, and family members, and I feel like it gave me an opportunity to really look at life differently."
She recovered, but just when things were looking up, "the ball drops again," as she put it. While on a trip to Paris, Schnabel's husband got a phone call.
"Walking to the Eiffel Tower, and the doctor called and said that the tests had come back," she said. "He was diagnosed with mesothelioma, which is the asbestos-caused cancer."
Neither Schnabel nor her husband had any idea where he could have gotten it. He fought for three and a half years before he passed away, leaving her searching for answers.
"I started doing yoga and left a very stressful job," she said. "I took year off. I think that all my experiences kind of hit me at the same time, you know, with my illness and my husband's, and I thought that I had dealt with everything really well. But I just hit a brick wall. And I found yoga, and it really helped me get through a lot of the stress."Comment on this story
Schnabel credits her daughter with encouraging her to open her own yoga studio in Orem. Nearly two years ago, she opened InBalance Wellness and Yoga.
"I remember saying, 'Oh, this is what joy feels like,'" she said. "Because I hadn't felt that for so long."
And even though her husband didn't live long enough to see this fresh start, Schnabel believes he still knows.
"I think he'd be really proud of me," she said. "I know he'd be really proud of me. And I believe he's watching me."