Fitness isn’t something you do; it’s who you are. It’s the lens of of how you see yourself in the world. For some it’s your lifeline to keep your sanity while for others it’s a health necessity to keep you alive. Here's Andrea's story of how fitness influences her life decisions.
What a year 2018 was for me. In May at the age of 42 I was diagnosed with breast cancer – and what a whirlwind the next 2 months would be! It was an aggressive tumour so I had an emergency mastectomy and began preparing myself for the chemo that was anticipated to come.
At home my dad was also battling cancer (sadly, he lost his fight 2weeks after my surgery). My mom was facing two knee replacements and my boys, being only 5 and 9, needed their mom. Not to mention my husband – like many women, I am the glue that holds everything together. So, you can see I had a lot on my plate and I needed to find a way to get through it.
Part of the preparation for chemo was to get myself as healthy as I could be knowing that, ironically while the cancer was in me, I felt fine but if I was to go through treatment I would likely not feel so great. I wanted to be as healthy and as strong as I could be – no…I needed to be.
I shared with Andrea at FirePower what was going on. She suggested private training with Coach Annie, which have become THE best investment I have ever made in myself! I’m forever grateful to have her as part of my path. She pushes me and challenges me and makes me laugh all at the same time. She has helped me build my confidence and helped me to accomplish things that I never thought I would do. She believes in me, so it makes it easy to believe in myself. I appreciate every chance I get to work out with her and the only thing I asked for Christmas was more PT sessions! I can’t wait to see what new milestones I hit in 2019! Fingers crossed pull-ups are one of them!
Thankfully with the advanced testing they do now I did not require chemotherapy and am adjusting as well as I can be to the medications I will take likely for the next 10 years. I had read a lot of negative things about hormone therapy, but I think I have responded so well because I have stayed healthy and active – I am physically stronger than I have ever been and this past December at the FirePower Winter Games with my amazing partner Lisa,we won first place in the Ignite division!
Staying strong physically is also helping me with the mental side of things. They gym is my outlet and my gym family (ladies you know who you are) help keep me motivated. I still have more surgery ahead but having seen what has been possible over the last 6 months and what I can achieve, I know I will take what lies ahead in stride.
Fitness is who I am.
Coach Annie’s Story:
Andrea was diagnosed, had surgery, buried her father, and then took her widowed mother for knee surgery, all while prepping herself for chemotherapy.At home she had two young boys, an over-worked, terrified husband and a lovable but misbehaved dog who needed extra training. In the midst of this absolute torrent of life crises, she came to workout with me. I’m not sure I can quite find a way to express how honoured and overwhelmed I felt to get the chance to work with this woman. My mantra before our first session, “I have to make this a good hour. She needs at least one good hour today.”
Andrea is incredible. I think that much is clear. When we started, her goal was to get as fit as possible before chemotherapy began. Rationally this was a smart, measured decision. Emotionally, it was a lot of work for little measurable result. Her ability to see through the haze of raging emotions was unparalleled. We have now trained together for six months. She’s progressed in her pull-up progressions (almost no band!), put over 20lbs on her back squat and most pleasing to me, kicked up into a handstand.
Outside of the gym, her mother has recovered well, her family is busy,her dog no longer hogs the bed, and she is in remission! I didn’t have to make the hour good. She has made every hour great.