Stories of Triumph

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picture of Mary

Mary’s Triumph Story

I had just had my first solo art show. It was wildly successful and the world was unfolding before me. I went to the doctor for a yearly check up and oops! I had missed a mammogram. I scheduled it the next day. It was like being hit with bullets from a machine gun. Mammogram, biopsy, diagnosis – all in one day. Life as I knew it was over. What next?

What came next was surgery, chemo and radiation. I felt like a giant angry serpent was writhing in my belly for months and months. The chemo depleted me. I felt like a shell of my previous self. Radiation then zapped any potential energy I may have had. I spent a year lying in bed…looking out the window. My mantra became “This will pass” and I was desperately trying to believe that “Healing is the story we tell ourselves”.

When I could barely walk across the room I heard about Triumph Fitness and signed up. By the time the program started I was ready to “join the living and get back into life” but had no clue as to how. Triumph is the program that allowed me to do so. Sharing and caring with others and having the desire to feel better was my motivation. Aside from getting back in touch with my physical being, Triumph gave me strength and got me going. I started making art again and discovered that surviving cancer has given me wings in life and art. Triumph was my lifeboat.


picture of Robert

Robert’s Triumph Story

Hi. My name is Robert. I am a Cancer Survivor and Triumph Fitness Alumni. My story is rather simple: probably similar to yours or someone you know. While running some blood tests as part of my routine health check up some unusual results were obtained for my thyroid levels. The tests were repeated and the results came back normal. Three months later I was tested again. The results came back too low again. Another confirmation test was performed and the results were good, with only one value being slightly low. Four weeks later I went back for more blood work, just to check. This time the results were too high! Strange, huh.

Well, by now both my doctor and I were frustrated and not sure what was going on. “Just to be safe let’s send you to an endocrinologist”, he said. The endocrinologist ran a few tests and found several very small lumps, less than 3 mm. We decided to have them checked, as cancer is prevalent in my family. Sure enough, they were malignant. Even the endocrinologist was surprised!

Early April 2012 I was diagnosed with stage 1 thyroid cancer. I had surgery later that month to remove my thyroid and then in mid May had radiation. (Oh, yeah. The same day I was diagnosed my fiancé, now wife, was told she had a lump in her breast. Luckily, her story has a better ending.) As most of us know radiation can take a toll on the body and your energy, even the mild treatment that I had. Some of the simple tasks that we take for granted, such as walking around the block or up a flight of stairs or even doing laundry, became a challenge after the radiation treatment and hormone imbalance. I tried to do some mild exercises on my own, but would often get frustrated due to the poor outcome. I told myself just give it more time, but I am a little impatient.

I then remembered my riding buddy Pam Whitehead, yep Ms. Triumph Fitness herself. Pam and I have been bicycling friends for several years. I was a little shy to contact her at first as I felt that “real” cancer survivors, not someone with one as mild as mine, should attend Triumph Fitness. I am so glad that Pam talked some sense into me and that I attended the program. I went from someone who could barely do 10 push ups and had barely energy to ride my bike to someone that is actually in better shape than when I played football in high school. OK, maybe not that good, but you get the idea. (Hey, I can do 30 push ups now and could never do that even when I was young.)

If you are a cancer survivor I highly encourage you to join Triumph Fitness. The friendships that you will make with both your instructors (Joe and Dre you ROCK!!) and your fellow cancer survivors will help motivate and push you to be better. You will start out slowly, but by the time the course is over you will be amazed how far you have come. You will learn skills and techniques to improve both your mind and body that will help you get back to “normal”.


 


picture of Tracy

Tracy’s Triumph Story

What the Triumph Fitness Program Means to Me…

I was diagnosed with Stage III Ovarian Cancer 2 years ago. Because my disease was so advanced, I was bombarded for 6 months with one of the most toxic chemo treatments on the market. Not only did I think I wouldn’t ever recover, but both myself and my Oncologist didn’t think I would make it through.

When I started this program I was very weak and felt broken as a person because of how badly I was affected by my treatment. I never thought I would be myself again. I met others in the group who felt the same as I did and over time we became a support group, helping each other when we felt tired or wanted to give up, or even if we needed someone to talk to that understood what we were going through. With the help of our personal trainer and my support system, my life changed. Over those 12 weeks I gained more confidence and strength to start my life over after what I went through.

I now work out daily and belong to a gym. Just a few months after completing Triumph Fitness, I participated in my first Livestrong Challenge for Team Triumph, riding 45 miles at the event on my bike. I am so proud of what I have accomplished.

I am so thankful to Pam and the supporters of this program. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.


 


picture of Eddie

Eddie’s Triumph Story

Every time I begin to write this story, I can never find the words to express my emotions that I have locked away. Cancer is a word that no one wants to hear, especially when you are only in your twenties. I was just like every other college student with dreams of one day walking the stage at graduation and making my family proud. I never thought in a million years I’d be diagnosed with cancer. In late September of 2011, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. To this day I still have a hard time believing my diagnosis. It’s hard to understand how someone who had always taken care of himself and his body could be sentenced to such pain and punishment.

picture of Eddie

The first month was like being stranded in thick fog where everything is a blur. I didn’t get a chance to step back and take everything in. Before I knew it…I had lost all my hair, my birthday, and Thanksgiving had passed. I went through two stages of change that affected every aspect of my life. The first stage was fear. I have never been so fearful. It was a fear of the unknown. When the smoke had cleared and the fear vanished, anger was my next stage. It was hard being sheltered from the world. I missed my friends and all the adventures we used to have. It was difficult to watch the world move forward while I was trapped.

The transition to a normal life would have been more difficult if it wasn’t for the amazing experience I had with Triumph Fitness. It was a major relief to be around people who have gone through the same journey as me. We were able to share our stories as we worked out together. I finally did not feel like I was the only one. I had others there for support. I was given the chance to release all the emotion that had been building up over the past months and begin to reveal the person I was once before. I am a stronger individual today – not just physically – but emotionally and mentally, and I have Triumph to thank for that transformation.


picture of Sue

Sue’s Triumph Story

When I first heard about Triumph Fitness, I had recently completed my second seven weeks of chemotherapy and radiation. I had been lying in bed for months without the strength or energy to even get myself dressed during the day. I was too weak to even walk to the mailbox on a daily basis, or to go to the store for groceries. I would buy only what I needed, as I needed it, because I couldn’t carry it in the house if I bought more than a couple of items at a time.

My first class at Triumph, they did an assessment and I could only do one push-up with the bar set at level eight. Ten minutes on the stationary bicycle was too much. After twelve weeks, I was able to do two sets of ten push-ups, at level six on the bar. I did thirty minutes on the stationary bicycle at the beginning of each class. I am now walking for two miles, three to four times a week, and buying groceries three or four bags at a time! I am so grateful to Triumph Fitness for helping me to get my strength back and for showing me how to do the exercises at home on my own.

Thank you for all you do! I feel I would still be lying in bed too weak to do normal everyday things without Triumph Fitness.



picture of Teresa

Teresa’s Triumph Story

As a recreational cyclist, Teresa enjoyed the challenge and friendship of cycling with several local cycling clubs. Starting in her early 40’s, she set goals and soon accomplished many difficult rides, including the Sacramento Wheelmen’s Sierra Century, an annual classic that featured the beautiful back roads of Amador County. With many challenging climbs, including infamous Slug Gulch, the 2001 Sierra Century was an important milestone in Teresa’s cycling accomplishments.

In 2006, Teresa was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, it was caught early, and surgery was her first, and last, treatment. “I’ve always recovered quickly from injuries and illnesses, but I was unprepared for the emotional and physical drain. Because my diagnosis and treatment were quick and relatively simple, I didn’t think I really needed any ongoing support after surgery. But, sadly, I lost trust in my body, and became fearful of trying any exercise.” Teresa abandoned the bike and settled into a sporadic routine of walking. “I felt awful, had no appetite, and basically lost my fitness.”

Then a friend from the Wheelmen gave Teresa a Triumph Fitness brochure she had picked up at a cycling event. “I couldn’t believe something like this was available. I’ve always been intimidated by gyms; but here was an opportunity to be in a small group of cancer survivors, led by a personal trainer who had specialized knowledge about our physical limitations. And it was FREE! I signed up immediately. From the moment I started the program, I knew I was in a safe place and on the road to recovering my flexibility, fitness, and most importantly, my confidence. The Triumph Fitness Program pointed me in the right direction, and gave me the tools and courage to take the first step.”

Teresa recently returned to cycling. She accomplished her first goal by participating in the 2011 LIVESTRONG Challenge cycling event in Davis, California as part of Team Triumph, which helped raise funds for programs like Triumph Fitness.