Kenzi’s Then and Now
Sigh. This week's "Then and Now" hit me right in the feels. I cried both times I read it. I remember her first weeks at Tribe.... the tears she shed as she began to move her body again after what must have been the most frightening experience of her life.... but I also remember my own tears after she did her first sit up. Please take the time to read this. It will change you.
I have always considered myself an athlete. Playing basketball throughout high school and college, my body type has always been a thick, strong, athletic build. I had my kiddos at 27 and 30 years old. After my son, I got back into the gym consistently, started eating healthier and continued playing rec league basketball. I felt really good about my body and had lost all of my baby weight. Then my life came to a crashing halt when I heard the word, cancer. On October 2, 2014 at the age of 31, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. At first, I was shocked and confused not knowing much and thinking ok they are just going to cut out a tumor, right? Well I was way off base because days later I was starting to meet with more doctors than I’d never met with and hearing the words biopsy, chemo, maybe radiation, and mastectomy. I thought triple negative was a good thing….wrong again.
My emotions turned into complete sadness and anger thinking why me and what about my sweet babies who were only 1 and 3 at the time. Within two weeks, I had one surgery down to test lymph nodes and have a port placed. By then my mindset was back to athlete/game mode. I looked at my oncologist and said tell me the game plan and what I need to do to beat this and survive and that’s all that matters to me. Chemo started on October 15th and I went every two weeks for 8 rounds. It was the toughest game or battle I had played in. Many days after each treatment I couldn’t get myself out of bed. I was getting so many drugs and steroids pumped into my body, I still worked a full-time job, and was still a wife and mother of two babies. The last thing on my mind was exercise. I think back and wish I could have been more active and then I laugh at myself because that shit was hard enough! On February 23rd, 2015 I had a double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery all in the same day. Because of my age, I was a candidate for a diep flap breast reconstruction which means they took blood vessels, skin and fat from my lower abdomen and transferred it to my chest to reconstruct my breasts. I mean that is some craziness yet all part of the game plan…
Fast forward 11 months post diagnosis and I was ready to get back to a gym. Most breast cancer patients gain weight, and I gained around 35 pounds. I was depressed and had zero confidence. I knew friends who went to Tribe and I knew I had to try it. I thought it just may be the place for me. I was so scared the first day I showed up. I made it through the workout and then Tiff had us do sit ups. I remember laying back and when I started to sit back up, I swear I didn’t move an inch. I just laid there thinking oh my god I can’t even do a sit-up and just started crying. Tiffany was right by my side. She comforted me and then and there I knew that this was the gym I needed to be at and Tiff was the person who would get me where I wanted to be.
That was a little over two years ago in September 2015. Since then Tribe has been my lifeline. I have lost about 20 of those extra pounds but I must remind myself that my body is completely different than it was before I got sick. Cancer took my hair for a while, my breasts and left me with about 8 scars and that’s a lot for someone to handle mentally and physically. This Tribe is my second family. It’s my safe haven for an hour each day. Tribe has made me feel like an athlete again and it has made me confident and most of all happy. I still may not be too great at sit-ups but when I clean 140 pounds or finish a die day workout, I feel so good and proud of myself. Tribe Gym makes me feel alive!
Kenzi, to say I'm proud of you falls short of what happens in my heart when I watch you boss that barbel around. I love you like a sister. We all do. I'm so grateful to be your coach.