Participant Spotlight: Charlene Fetzer

Cancer treatment takes a toll, regardless of your age or physical abilities. While we are grateful for the ways radiation and chemotherapy treatment actively fight cancer, we also recognize the debilitating effect they can have on the body. Survivor Fitness participant Charlene Fetzer is a powerful example of someone who knows the difficult cost of chemotherapy but found a greater strength through her decision to rebuild one day, one step at a time. 

At age 33, Charlene was diagnosed with triple-positive IDC breast cancer. The neoadjuvant chemotherapy treatment was extremely difficult on her body. 

“My body suffered tremendously from chemo. I experienced everything from extreme tightness and fatigue in my muscles to bone pain, deterioration, and anemia,” Charlene explained. “At one point I could barely reach my knees when I stretched forward. I tried to stay active during chemo, but each session seemed to build on itself, and the symptoms got progressively worse.”

Charlene finished her final infusion on January 25th, 2022, fifteen months after being diagnosed. That’s when she officially joined the Survivor Fitness community and began taking steps toward rebuilding her strength. 

“The first part of my cancer journey was getting through all the treatments and procedures and beating cancer. The second part came when I was able to create a new lifestyle designed exactly how I wanted to live,” she said. 

Rebuilding with Self-Compassion, One Step at a Time

Charlene found Survivor Fitness before starting her treatment. After speaking with Co-Founder and Executive Director Meg Grunke about the program, Charlene knew it could give her the ability to rebuild after treatment. As soon as she had the opportunity, Charlene began participating in weekly workouts under professional supervision. For her, it was the perfect way to focus on her health without being overwhelmed with how to exercise during her recovery. 

“When I found out about Survivor Fitness, I was so excited…I felt lucky that Tennessee had something to offer to help survivors rebuild their lives. Knowing that Meg and Aaron really understood the complexities of cancer treatments put me at ease. I felt like I would be well taken care of and in good hands with trained professionals.”

Charlene worked with her trainers to develop a program that allowed her to safely rebuild and avoid injury as she recovered. She looks forward to her session each week. It motivates her to continue to take her recovery one step at a time. 

Building Strength & Confidence with Every Session

Since joining the Survivor Fitness community, Charlene has begun rebuilding with more strength training and adopting healthier all-around habits.

“Survivor Fitness has not only given me my strength back but also my confidence. I’ve been able to take things as slowly as I need to with certain parts of my body that have been affected.”

Her workout routine at Survivor Fitness is something Charlene looks forward to. Like many participants, she sees it as her designated “me” time amid all the other responsibilities of life.

Perspective & Advice for the Journey to Rebuild

Charlene’s journey of beating cancer might have been difficult, but it’s given her an incredible empathy that she uses to encourage others who have experienced a life-changing diagnosis. 

“I would tell someone on a cancer journey to be gentle with yourself. Give yourself grace. Take your time. Just take it day by day, hour by hour, or even breath by breath if you have to. Know that there are people out there who care and want to support you. Know you are never alone.” 

We are extremely grateful for Charlene Fetzer and her participation at Survivor Fitness. 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.