If She Can Do It - So Can YOU

by Helen M. Ryan

Have you ever had one of those moments—when talking to someone you haven’t seen in a long time—where you realize that while you’ve been complaining about mundane things in life like stress, bills, gas prices, and work, this person has been fighting for their life?

I have. Big time. (Open mouth, insert foot.)

One of my “spinners” had been gone from Spinning class for a couple of years when I saw her back again. (I’ll call her Lady X because it sounds exotic). I smiled and waved at her. She waved back.

As I was walked around the room before class, I stopped to ask how she was doing. “Fine, now”, was her reply.

Thinking nothing more of it, I taught the class and then left the room. On my way towards the exit, I saw Lady X again and we chatted for a moment.

She told me that her doctor had finally cleared her to exercise again. 

She told me that her latest MRI had come back good. 

I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. 

As Lady X began to tell me about her ordeal, I started to take in details I should have noticed earlier: The bandana over her short hair and her very flat (now breast-less) chest. Oh no.

Lady X was factual and honest, but somehow also in good spirits. She never complained and never wavered with her positive attitude. She told me she had been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer that had also spread to her lymph nodes, liver, and three of her vertebrae.

She had both breasts and some lymph nodes removed, underwent radiation (I am also assuming chemotherapy, but I was too numb—and dumb—to ask. The bandana clued me in). Lady X showed me the irradiated skin where her right breast used to be. 

We talked about her future breast reconstructions. Lady X explained how she had felt a lump a year before but her doctor had told her to ignore it. She reminded me if I felt anything out of the ordinary I needed to insist on a mammogram.

This woman had been through the unimaginable.

  • She had both breasts removed.
  • She had some lymph nodes removed.
  • She received radiation, chemotherapy, and lots of medication.

As soon as her doctor cleared her, she was back at the gym…for her health and sanity. With a smile on her face.

So, when you’re too tired to work out or you just don’t feel like it, think back to Lady X. 

If she can show up at the gym after all that she went through, you and I can drag our asses to the gym. 

No excuses.

Published February 3, 2013