I eat healthy and am fit. I have never smoked or done drugs and drink very little. I have never been sick. I am 37 years old and…. I have CANCER.
Here is my story…..
Nearing the end of 2014, I was ready to throw caution to the wind and try something new. I had been working out through lifting, cardio, HIIT type routines. The routines varied daily, so it was not so much about boredom in what I was doing, but I was mentally bored with the idea of having to lift, having to run, etc. each day. When I randomly came across Pilates ProWorks, I was anxious to learn what the concept was all about. I had done zero research on what Pilates was or the concept behind Pilates ProWorks. I took my first class (an essentials class) with a notoriously challenging instructor (of course I did not know that at the time) and could not believe how “out of shape” I was. I asked her after class, “Who can do this?” If this was only an essentials class, what was the pro class like? I was assured that I did great and could easily handle the pro class. I thought she was crazy, but jumped in feet first and have never looked back. After six months of coercing, I got my husband to join too. Together we go six days per week, rotating among Pro, Barre, and 30/30. We historically did MatBox too, but had to step away as you will see later in my story. The “pain” we endure during class is unexplainable to those who have never tried, but we certainly feel accomplished when it is over. Nothing beats that.
We were three months into our joint routine, when the diagnosis of a lifetime slammed us in the face. May 1st, 2015 I was diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer. I was in the best shape of my life, seven months into my commitment to Pilates ProWorks and never felt better. I thought my life flipped upside down. I do not know why, but I made a decision very quickly that this diagnosis was not going to change my life. Therefore, Pilates ProWorks continued to be a staple in my life. I had to endure four months of aggressive chemo (including hair loss), a double mastectomy (including reconstruction), and eight additional months of a different chemo regimen (one that allowed my hair to grow back). Throughout all the rigors of chemo and rehabilitation from multiple surgeries, Pilates ProWorks was present.
I continued to work out six days per week. I had no reason not to move my body. I knew how to make adjustments on my “bad” days, but convinced myself that the more normal I felt on the outside, the more normal I would feel on this inside. To me, that meant staying strong. It turned out to be a message of strength both physically and mentally. The longest gap I had in class attendance was a two week period following the mastectomy. When I came back to class, I still had drains in. My doctor stopped telling me my limitations because she knew I was not going to listen, but she also knew I understood how hard my body could push. She trusted me. To give perspective, I was supposed to take 4-6 weeks off post surgery, but only took two and was back to full strength by week six.
My health journey has come to a close and I am grateful for what I was able to accomplish, maintain, and celebrate this past year. It was a bump in the road, albeit a big one, but it was never something I could not overcome under the same pretenses I lived my life every day before I was labeled. I have no idea if working out (specifically with Pilates ProWorks) helped during this journey, but I have no reason to believe it did not. STRONG IS BEAUTIFUL!!!