It was 2006 and I started the year with high expectations and a strong readiness to achieve. However, my greatest fear came to visit me instead. On February 28, I found a lump in my breast. For the most part I concluded it was only a cyst but after all the medical examinations and tests it was shockingly confirmed on Thursday (the day before Good Friday) that I actually had invasive stage 3 HER2 positive breast cancer. The air escaped me and everything was a complete blur in that moment. I remember having to lean up against a wall to avoid falling – I was devastated.. To make a long story short, my year ended up being NOTHING I ever expected, but somehow still an opportunity to strongly achieve. I was 32 at the time with no other health issues, making me a good candidate for the more aggressive breast cancer treatment available. Over a span of 18 months I had 3 surgeries, 2 types of chemotherapy, Herceptin treatment (i.e. targeted ‘biological’ therapy) and radiation. One of the surgeries however was due to a fall I had down my stairs landing on my left ankle, after a routine nurse visit. That accident caused two fractures in my leg and a severely broken ankle, which needed two pins to put back together again. Because I was a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy, I had to keep my cast on for 3 months, instead of 6 weeks like the average person. After all my medical treatments and physiotherapy I was ready to return to work and I was ready to do something about my health again.
On separate occasions I joined Good Life, YMCA, LA Fitness, various workout groups and other in-home fitness programs. Each time I didn’t retain the urge to return. I usually felt lost with what I was doing and began to believe that I could never make fitness a permanent life style. Each time I failed made it harder to get back up, but one day I started to wonder if a boot camp would be the answer for me. I knew at that point I needed more structure with a strong push. So as intimidating as it was, I was ready to give this a try. In my searches I couldn’t find anything that would work reasonably for me. Their availability was pretty restricted to the same few days a week, with the same inflexible time slots. Then I spoke with a friend at work who told me about Integrity Fitness. I checked out the details online, was excited with what I had seen and visited the next day for a trial session without delay. OMG!! As soon as I arrived I was greeted with warmth and support. Yes, I felt like I was going to pass out during the session, but I felt so comfortable too. I was never made to feel like a loser and always reassured I was doing okay. And whether I was or not didn’t really matter, because I was encouraged and assisted anyhow by staff and clients alike, then and still now.
Integrity Fitness is the first place EVER where I finally made the decision to never quit. Yes, I’ve had brief periods of falling off course, but Integrity Fitness is the only place where I just couldn’t stay away – I always had to come back and press on. I believe the integral design of the program promotes commitment and accountability and is a reason why I’m still here after 4 years. And though I still have certain goals I’m working towards, I have already made some gains in the process. I’m healthier, stronger, optimistic, energetic and confident that I can actually keep going!! I’ve been told my ailment would have been back by now and yet I remain cancer free and for that I’m grateful every single day. Integrity Fitness has been a meaningful part of my wellness journey and I look forward to what is to come.