“I’m Here, Alive and Well and Thriving.” A Breast Cancer Survivor Used Exercise and CrossFit to Aid Her Recovery

It’s been a while since I’ve written about my breast cancer journey, so I thought that since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it would be an appropriate time to check in.

First and foremost, I’m doing awesome! This past July marked my two-year survivor anniversary. In the past two years, I’ve been through five major surgeries, countless “minor procedures,” six rounds of chemotherapy, and am now on hormone therapy for the next 3 ½ years. If it seems like a lot to read, imagine going through it. But…I’m here, alive and well and thriving.

Although I’ve been through a lot, I attribute my success and ability to cope to three things:

  • My Faith in God and His awesome power
  • My husband, Alvin; my family, friends and followers standing by me all the way and pushing me to keep fighting
  • Exercise

Without these three elements firmly entrenched in my life, I shudder to think what kind of shape (physical, emotional and mental) that I would be in right now.

Faith and family, I’m sure you can relate to how important these are to you when you need them most; but exercise?

Let me explain. This is not just any old type of exercise, but serious, vigorous, out-of-breath, leaves you crawling exercise. I first heard about how important exercise is to cancer recovery from a guest on my radio show. She was diagnosed with Stage IV Lymphoma and survived. While on the show she said that she attributed her success to vigorous exercise. This point stuck in my mind and when I was faced with a similar situation, I put my plan in motion.

Out of Chemo, On to the Treadmill

When I began chemotherapy, my oncologist told me that the main side effects were nausea, tiredness and a general loss of energy. She also told me to drink plenty of water to help wash the chemicals out of my system as quickly as possible to help minimize the side effects. I know that exercise helps your body get rid of waste and gives you energy.

The next day after each chemo treatment, I was on the treadmill or some other piece of cardio equipment. My strategy really worked; I wasn’t as tired as I thought I would be and I had enough energy to take on a new position as fitness director at a local gym. Even though my doctor told me to “take it easy,” I listened to my body and kept up my routine throughout my chemo treatments.carold

Next Step: Something New

As I recovered and started to feel like my old self, I began to think about the next step in my fitness plan. I was considering whether or not to compete again in either bodybuilding or physique and go down that road when I saw the Reebok CrossFit games on TV. I had heard about CrossFit, but I never really saw it in action. As I watched, I told my husband “whatever it is they’re doing, I have GOT to do that!”. I was hooked and I knew that was the direction that I wanted to take my fitness plan.

Back to the Gym

In February of this year, my husband and I decided that it was time to stop talking about getting back on track and really do it. We joined “Workout Anytime” and started working out 5 to 6 days per week. We both began to see changes, get stronger, and feel like we were in control of our lives again.

It just so happened that a new CrossFit gym opened right next door, so of course I wanted to check it out. We found out that the owner of the CrossFit gym was one of the trainers at “Workout Anytime,” Shane Bonilla. I had seen him in the gym training his clients and I was impressed with his training style. He was patient, watchful and always checking their form—sounds like my kind of trainer! I told my husband about him and the new gym and he was like –Do It!

From the moment I began training with Shane and doing the CrossFit classes, I KNEW this was what I was looking for, the NEXT LEVEL for my fitness regimen. The workouts are challenging, never the same and always empowering.

“CrossFit is like nothing I have ever done before. It will challenge you just as much mentally as it does physically. The main reason I love helping people excel in CrossFit is seeing the benefits they receive (physical and mental strength, body fat loss, muscle gain, energy boost, confidence boost, self-empowerment, positive attitude, etc) go far beyond ‘just working out’ and seeing them transfer over to their everyday lives,” Shane, owner of CrossFit III, told me. He even suggested that I am one of their best examples of using CrossFit and exercise in general to benefit quality of life.

“Her positive and encouraging attitude, work ethic and dedication to her body and mind are an inspiration to every person in our gym whether they are young or young at heart,” he said.

You might think that I quit the regular gym, but you would be mistaken. I include CrossFit as part of my fitness plan. I love the vigorous workouts, but I also still love just plain ‘ole lifting, which I do 3-4 times per week with my husband. Also included in my regimen are stretching and flexibility, balance exercises, core work and, of course, cardio. It’s important to note that CrossFit isn’t a fit for everyone, and you should know your body, its limitations, and that you’re only competing with yourself before diving in head first.

As I end my breast cancer journey update, I am reminded of a dear friend whom I only knew for a short time. We met during my tenure as fitness director, and we would talk while she did her cardio. She had been diagnosed with Stage IV Lymphoma and when I met her, she was recovering from her chemotherapy treatments. She was truly a fighter, but the cancer eventually won out. She passed away on Christmas morning 2024. Before she passed, she gave me a T-shirt that says “Fight Like a Girl!”. Believe me, I do!

Also Read:

The Grass is Greener on the Other Side of Breast Cancer Survival

11 Celebrities Who CrossFit to Stay in Shape

Cancer has a Sweet Tooth

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