This year I turned 50 grateful. Although I have always had an abundance of blessings, I have not always embraced them. I hope that my story will inspire you to see and embrace your blessings and believe in miracles. As a child I waited with happy anticipation, in my prettiest dress and shiny patent leather shoes, for the church bus to pick me up. I loved to sing and hear how much Jesus loved the little children. I felt a blanket of safety and love at church. At 10, I was orphaned. Jesus loved the little children?
At 30 I was diagnosed with stage 3 possibly stage 4 stomach cancer. From the oncologist’s report, “Spoke frankly with patient and advised her that we could offer no positive prognosis.” At this time, I had not reconciled my fractured relationship with Jesus and said to him, “I don’t trust you. I’ll handle this.” In desperation, I went to another doctor. His report read, “Thirty year old patient in high denial of her prognosis.” He was right I could not accept that my life would end soon. So I went to a third doctor.
She offered hope, “We are starting a clinical study that will include pre and post surgery chemotherapy.” I wanted to do all I could do to help the doctors cure me. I started a file labeled “Getting Well. One big part of my GW program was popping my Jane Fonda tape into my VCR and doing her 45 minute workout every day for sixty days. You may have just smiled if an image of the 80’s workout attire appeared. Part of surviving included five hospitalizations, 10 days in ICU and removal of my stomach. I was the only person in the study who was blessed with survival.
I stayed cancer free until I was 45. During those years two brothers were diagnosed with colon cancer and my sister had uterine and kidney cancer. My amazing oncologist saw me every six months and suspected a familial genetic mutation. I went to a genetic doctor who told me I had (HNPCC) Lynch Syndrome. My body was not able to detect cancer cells related to a number of cancers.I was monitored closely and because of that monitoring, ovarian cancer was found at stage 1 when I was 45. I had surgery and chemotherapy and was once again a survivor.
I realized that it was important to keep myself healthy in order to prevent that first cancer cell from taking hold. I restored my relationship and walk with Jesus and felt his love and peace. I found a wonderful gym family, CATZ, in Anaheim and Yorba Linda. I fell in love with the intense small group athletic training. I was in great shape. I loved my job. I loved my husband. I loved my life!
I was blindsided at 50 with a diagnoses of stage 3b lung cancer. Surgery was not possible. My treatment included two rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. Against great odds, I again survived. Despite that miracle, I broke up with God and quit exercising. One of my brother’s died from brain cancer. My spirits declined and I struggled with everything in my life.
During this time of struggle , I happened to attend a fundraiser for brain research. At the silent auction a bid item caught my eye, a sixth month membership to No Limit. I bid and won the membership. When I took my certificate into No Limit, Lisa was the person I met, I have to admit I felt intimidated. It was the middle of the day and the gym was very quiet. I thought to myself, “If everyone looks like her, I am in the wrong place!” I asked her what group had the smallest number of people. I wanted to keep my humiliation to a minimum!
Despite my misgivings, the moment I entered the door for a workout, I knew I was in a magical place. The exercise was fast paced and hard. Amazingly, it was fun. The staff is incredible!!!
Jeff yelled at me every time I was there because I never did the exercises in the right order, I’d end up in the wrong group, with the wrong type of weights. I even showed up for class at the wrong times! But he did that so I would get the hang of it. Weird but sometimes I miss his harassment! Bri encourages me the days I feel that my lungs are going to explode (radiation has left permanent damage). She calmly tells me to control my breathing. She does not focus on what I can’t do but what I can do. Each time I am in Justin’s group, he gives me a wave and bright smile to welcome me. He keeps a careful eye out for anyone that is not using the right form. He always ends the workout with a “Great Job!” Zack has an expertise for telling you exactly how to do an exercise to get the most benefit and avoid injury. Lisa is an amazing instructor and I’m afraid not to do my best. (just kidding, I’m not really scared.) Then there are the members who run the gamut of ages and skills. Despite age or ability, they are always ready with a “You can do it!”
I can’t end my story without mentioning Sako. When my six month membership expired, I asked to meet with him. He gave me his undivided attention and listened to my perceived limitations and my goals.
However, there is a profound difference. I know that exercise will not prevent illness or injury, but it makes me stronger and I feel better physically and mentally. I also have a more mature relationship with Jesus. Our free will allows bad things to happen but Jesus is always there to give us peace. Now, when adversity comes, I don’t run from Jesus I lean into his love.