Dear Lauren and the Lithe ladies,
I wanted to write this letter for awhile, but I figure there's no better time than Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As some of you know, I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in June 2014. I found out that I was positive for a gene mutation, giving me an 85 percent chance of developing it. Because it is genetic, lifestyle factors didn’t play much of a role in my diagnosis. I underwent a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, five long months of chemotherapy, and another surgery which included my last reconstruction, or the placement of my permanent implants.
Prior to my diagnosis and surgery I was in the best shape of my life. I Litheing almost daily for about four years. My 6AM Lithe routine was an important part of my life – but I had no idea just how important.
From the day of diagnosis until my surgery I continued to Lithe. It was my escape. It was the one hour each day that I wasn't thinking about what I was going through. On July 31, 2014, I underwent a surgery that was almost 11 hours long. As soon as I woke up in the post-operative unit I sat up (yep, I popped straight up because I was terrified to roll to either side) and was walking to the bathroom and sitting in a chair less than 24 hours after surgery. My surgeon and nurses were beyond impressed. My recovery went smoothly once I was home and I know it's because of how strong I was prior to surgery. I am a physical therapist, someone trained in rehabilitating the body, but it is completely different when it is your own body.
About six weeks after my first surgery I was back at Lithe, modifying, but happy to be back. The instructors were so kind and understanding. I started to tell my fellow Lithers what was going on, where I had been, and what was to come. I had no idea that these women, who I had spent so many hours with before would become a great support system to me. They listened, asked how I was, and genuinely cared. Not long after returning I started chemotherapy. I tried to continue Litheing but the chemo got the best of me and kicked my Tight End. I worked throughout chemo and that took every last ounce of energy. In February 2015, I finished chemotherapy and had my final surgery in April. I returned to Lithe exactly six weeks after my second surgery, on the first day I was off my restrictions. I’ve worked hard since then. I’m still not at 100 percent, but I know I will get there. I learned how incredible my body is and what it's able to withstand. I cannot imagine how much harder the entire journey would have been if I wasn’t active and strong – physically, emotionally, and mentally. Lithe gave me so much of that strength. I consider myself lucky to Lithe every day.
Lauren, you have created an incredible workout, brought together an amazing group of women, and changed so many lives. I am grateful to be part of this community.
So, to this community I think so highly of, I would like to share one last part of my story. Just prior to my diagnosis, I found a lump in my breast. Because of my age, I never had a mammogram, nor did I know I had this gene mutation. I went to my physician and was immediately sent for a mammogram and ultrasound. As if all of this isn’t scary enough, my mammogram and ultrasound showed nothing. The cancerous tissue appeared similar to the rest of the tissue. In fact, we celebrated after the mammogram because I had been told there was “nothing suspicious.” It was recommended that I see a breast surgeon, but I wasn't told it was necessary. However, deep down I knew something was wrong. I ended up having a biopsy and that’s how I got the news, but could you imagine if I had stopped with the mammogram? I encourage you to never stop when it comes to your health. Women have incredible instincts. Trust yourself and be proactive, no matter how scary something may be. I didn’t waste a minute getting answers and for that I am grateful.