On Oct 1, 2015, I was prepped for surgery expecting to have a hysterectomy since I had the BRCA 1 gene and was at high risk for cancer. I discovered the gene the summer after my younger sister came down with breast cancer and tested positive for it. In addition to my sister and I, our mother had also died of complications from breast cancer. So, to say I was at high risk, is an understatement.
When I woke up from my surgery I found a room full of family and friends and the surgeon telling me I had advanced cancer and so began my journey of chemotherapy, which included abdominal chemo and being twisted into all sorts of different positions to get the agent to as many abdominal areas as possible. After six months, I was very weak and that’s when I saw a brochure for a Team Survivor Northwest Active Women Healthy Women exercise class being held near me in Edmonds. I began attending the class after getting permission from my medical team and saw rapid improvement under the watchful eye of the instructor, Toshiko Aramaki, who was herself a survivor. She then told me of a program called Live Strong and joining that brought further recovery and strength.
Utilizing the chance to get supervised exercise made me begin to feel like my old self again and was so motivating that I began to pass on what I was learning to my friends who started to look to me as their coach. Simultaneously I was chosen for a nutrition and exercise experimental study through an alliance that SCCA has with the University of Arizona. It was great to finally feel that I had power to change my circumstances and find hope, even if the hope is just to feel healthy in this moment. I am grateful that I found Team Survivor Northwest and that my instructor, Toshiko, is in my life weekly and looking out after me in ways I cannot do for myself.