Every cancer survivor knows what it’s like to deal with the uncertainty after their diagnosis. There are so many unknowns and questions. How long will this impact my life? Will I ever get back to normal? What does normal even mean? How should I approach my everyday activities in light of my diagnosis? These were the questions that Survivor Fitness participant Ashley Hensley asked herself when she was diagnosed with cancer in the midst of a season that was already filled with uncertainty.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer (invasive ductal carcinoma, to be exact) in November of 2020 while on furlough from my job during the pandemic,” Ashley explained. “That was a year full of uncertainty.”
After radiation treatment, Ashley was prescribed a plan to take tamoxifen for the next ten years because her tumor was estrogen positive. While the medication helps prevent cancer from returning, some of the side effects have a noticeable impact on physical activity and capacity.
Ashley heard about Survivor Fitness from her oncologist about a year after her initial diagnosis. She joined as soon as she could after treatments as a way to get her confidence back.
Finding the Mental Strength for the Fight
Ashley already lived an active lifestyle prior to her diagnosis. This helped her find the strength she needed to undergo treatment. After treatment, she wanted to find a way to get back to normal. Survivor Fitness became a way for Ashley to regain mental strength and fortitude as her fight against cancer transitioned to the next phase.
“Once you have been diagnosed with cancer, it never really leaves your mind. It still finds its way into my everyday life when I least expect it,” Ashley said. ”I joined Survivor Fitness because I wanted to get stronger so that I am always ready to fight.”
The same determination that helped Ashley persevere through radiation treatment also helped her regain momentum for her new fitness routine.
“Even on days when I just really don’t feel like it, I keep at it. This program has helped me to be more accountable to myself so that in the end I am getting stronger both mentally and physically. It really is such a mental exercise.”
Ashley attributes much of her recovery and her new approach to her trainer, Kim Day.
“Kim is the best trainer. She pushes me when I need a push and supports me when I need support. For the first time in my life, I don’t even look at the scale anymore. Kim has helped me get stronger, and that is what I’m using to measure success.”
Regaining Strength, Control, & Confidence
After six months with her trainer, Ashley has already noticed a tremendous difference in her strength and confidence. After such a season of uncertainty, Ashley is grateful for the program and everyone who made it possible for her to get back on track after her cancer detour.
“Survivor Fitness has absolutely helped me to get my confidence back,” Ashley said. “As you might imagine, the body image stuff coupled with tamoxifen can be difficult. This program helped me to get back into that good head space, and it has honestly been the best gift.”
While Ashley continues the fight to keep cancer from returning, she has embraced the same level of consistency and commitment that she originally leaned on after diagnosis. When asked what advice she would give to someone on a similar journey, Ashley shared so much wisdom from her experience.
“It doesn’t happen overnight, but you will get stronger every day. The confidence that you will feel is the absolute best gift that you can give yourself. You will see what your body is capable of and be so proud of yourself.”
Throughout her diagnosis and treatment, Ashley took a courageous “fight like a girl” approach. Needless to say, she’s embraced the same perspective as she continues her journey as a cancer survivor. Ashley’s personality and resolve remind us while we can’t predict the future, we can control how we respond to it.
Interested in Becoming a Survivor Fitness Participant?
If you or someone you know is a cancer survivor looking to regain health and wellness after cancer, we’re here for you! Connect with us today to learn more.