Our participants and graduates can attest to the value of encouragement and support from those who have walked or may be walking a similar path toward overcoming cancer. Hearing their stories of recovery and success in regaining their strength is part of what gives us the motivation to inspire others along the way.
Leisha Smith is a shining example of someone who took charge of her cancer journey and is now feeling stronger and healthier. In this Q&A feature, learn more about how Survivor Fitness helped Leisha regain her health and wellness.
A Q & A with Leisha Smith
Survivor Fitness: Tell us about your diagnosis and why you began the Survivor Fitness programs.
Leisha Smith: In 2015, I tested positive for the BRCA gene, meaning my chances of getting breast or ovarian or both cancers were significantly higher than those without the gene. So, I decided to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and remove my tubes and ovaries. I was being proactive, making my chances of getting breast cancer less than 1%. Then, in January 2020, I felt the tumor in my armpit. I was shocked. Every doctor from my gynecologist to the radiologist who performed the biopsy stated this couldn’t be cancer, but deep down I knew.
Because I had already done the preventative surgery, my oncologist wanted to be aggressive. I only had the tumor, and it was contained. My breast cancer was hormone positive. So, I went through the entire protocol of two rounds of chemotherapy and 32 radiation treatments. My journey started in January 2020 and finished December 2020.
After finishing chemotherapy and radiation, I was weak, and, for the first time in my life, I looked “fragile.” I have always been an athlete, so it was shocking to see the toll treatment has on your body—the loss of muscle mass and being constantly weak. I wanted to have control of my body again, so I started looking for fitness training that was tailored toward cancer survivors. That’s how I discovered Survivor Fitness.
I loved the Survivor Fitness story and mission and was super excited to begin the programs in Spring of 2021. Being a cancer survivor is only a small part of who I am. This journey has been amazing because, as I got stronger physically, my mental and emotional well-being improved significantly.
SF: How have you been able to regain your health and wellness throughout your time with Survivor Fitness?
LS: Survivor Fitness has allowed me to join a group of individuals who I can only describe as warriors! Meg is such a positive force and makes you feel like you are a part of the family. I was also able to connect with a knowledgeable trainer—Carissa Mahoney at Performance Training, Inc. (PTI)—and focus on building up my stamina and lean muscle. I also spoke with the dietitian to discuss healthy eating habits, since treatment really diminishes the desire to eat.
SF: What makes the relationship with Survivor Fitness so good?
LS: For me, it is Survivor Fitness’ focus on being strong and their mindset of “I can!” Cancer takes something from you. You feel frail and weak. Survivor Fitness gives you the ability to move beyond the label of cancer “patient” to “survivor.”
SF: In what ways does Survivor Fitness empower you to stay active and healthy?
LS: I love that Survivor Fitness “checks in”on me and how they offer group classes and informational webinars.
SF: What would you tell someone else who might be on a similar journey and is considering being a Survivor Fitness participant?
LS: Definitely join! It is amazing to see yourself meet goals and get stronger—both physically and mentally. I have met more Survivor Fitness members at PTI and love seeing their progress as well.
Interested in Becoming a Survivor Fitness Participant?
If you or someone you know is a cancer survivor looking to regain your health and wellness through one-on-one personal training and nutritional support, we’re here for you! Connect with us today to learn more.