Noteworthy Spotlight: Wigwam Festival Founder Jennifer Lingvall
Thank you http://www.youvebeennoted.com/ for this incredible article on an incredible woman. If you haven't registered for the Wigwam Wellness Festival yet, do it now! Spaces are filling up so fast!
Jennifer Lingvall was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 31. In the fight for her life, she decided to take an integrated approach to healing. In addition to chemotherapy, she also drastically adjusted her lifestyle. She tried every possible holistic approach from major diet changes to hypnotherapy, juicing and sound therapy. Three years later, she is cancer free and turning her journey into something positive in the Atlanta community. Enter Wigwam Wellness Festival. Wigwam is set up like a concert festival with multiple event options but instead of music, expect activities like yoga classes and paddle boarding and lectures on adrenal fatigue and how to read food labels. We grabbed juice with Jen at Kale Me Crazy to delve into her story a bit more and get details on Wigwam.
YBN: Tell us about your background & why you organized a wellness festival.
Jennifer: I moved to Atlanta in 2008 to do some work on myself. I was still the social butterfly girl that liked to be out ALL the time. I got a job working with Wednesday Night Drinking Club and started learned how to throw events. The first festival I worked on was Scary Party 8 – 3,500 people – massive party in Midtown. In 2009, a couple of guys asked me to help them throw a tailgate in Athens. So I did. Then we threw a few more parties that were well received. We made it official – A Social Mess.
In January 2012 – it was Friday night and I was watching a movie in bed with Erik (Jen’s husband). Maybe it’s your inner tuition, but you just notice weird things about your body when something is off. I felt this something I was like, “what’s that?!” I jumped out of bed and ran into the bathroom like I was going to see this bulge pushing through my skin – I could feel a lump on my left breast. I started Googling & WebMDing it, like all of us do. WebMD is the worst! I found research that 4 out of 5 cysts found are benign (and I had no family history), so was a little relieved. I got a biopsy – did not get the results I was looking for.
I interviewed and researched a lot of doctors until I found my Trifecta Atlanta team. We ended up deciding to do chemotherapy before the double mastectomy. I had considered 100% holistic treatment at first, but decided a combination of the two was probably my best bet.
I hit that disease hard with the chemo and then also did other – I mean you name it, I did it “out there” stuff. I experimented with various herbal remedies, mentors and therapies. Thankfully, I have an abundance of great resources. Erik and I were already juicing (Erik calls it “Ling’s Super Juice”), this occurrence just kicked our juicing habits up a notch or four. I changed my diet, did acupuncture 3 times per week & dumped my cabinets of anything I couldn’t pronounce. Thankfully, my friends were sweet and helpful. People organized a daily drop off of healthy food and offered to run errands. I had to let go (somewhat) of my need to do everything. It just wasn’t possible. I lost my long, beautiful, sassy, sexy hair. And in August, I just took it all off (motions to chest.) That was the best possible scenario for my personal peace of mind. When I went in to have the surgery, they could not find the tumor. After the operation, my oncologist told me that chemotherapy had a 20% chance of working. Thankfully he didn’t tell me before we started, because that could’ve had a serious impact on my mental superpowers. I beat the odds!
YBN: 20% chance? I mean that’s…
Jennifer: Not great. So far, no sign of Big C returning!
(Lindsay + Jen high five at this point in the interview.)
YBN: So when did the idea of Wigwam come to you?
Jennifer: Last summer. I just wanted to combine my gift for creating experiences with all of the amazing wellness folks I’ve encountered over the years. I probably looked at 50 different spaces before deciding on Chattahoochee Nature Center. It’s amazing. There is a rooftop deck, a pavilion that sits on the river, a couple of docks, an outdoor classroom, gardens, a theater, etc. to host multiple stages at one time. Basically, it’s an experiential wellness playground for adults.