A cancer diagnosis can be a seismic shift in life—especially for people who revel in the joys of hiking, running races, and exercising. Suddenly, most of the physical activities that were once a part of their life come to a halt. Once treatment begins, the trails they once conquered with ease become daunting, and the finish lines they used to cross seem distant. Finding the courage and regaining the strength to endure the marathon of recovery is a testament to their resilience.
Survivor Fitness participant Kim Nielsen exemplifies what’s possible when you are determined to reclaim life after cancer treatment and redefine what it means to be active.
Kim is an avid runner and adventure seeker. However, after completing the 16-kilometer race from Paris to Versailles in 2019, she noticed slight differences in her body. Kim began to experience bloating, and weight gain, along with respiratory symptoms and trouble breathing. She decided to visit the doctor and was diagnosed with Stage 3c Ovarian Cancer.
That’s when her long journey with cancer began. She immediately started three rounds of IV chemo. Then, she underwent surgery to remove the cancer throughout her thoracic cavity and completed a hysterectomy before enduring three more rounds of IV chemo.
Once that treatment ended, Kim began two-and-a-half years of PARP inhibitor therapy, a type of chemo intended to ‘trick’ her DNA into not producing cancer cells.
A New Path to Regaining Strength
After the surgery, Kim recognized how much her body had changed. The treatment had impacted her hormones and the steroids she had to take affected her metabolism. Like most cancer patients, she had lost significant muscle mass and gained weight during treatment.
“The strong body I once lived in became weak,” she said. “I wanted to feel alive and in control of my body again.”
Kim started running and hiking again during her treatment with the PARP inhibitor. But she also recognized a need to regain strength after so much medicine and lack of activity. That’s when Julie at the VICC Patient and Family Resource Center told her about Survivor Fitness. Kim immediately recognized this was the answer to finding the help she needed to reconnect with and strengthen her body.
“Three years of chemotherapy and treatment made me determined to regain my strength and confidence to do things I loved to do, like hike, camp, run, and travel,” she shared. “I needed to be strong and confident in my body to continue to live my life to the fullest.”
Connecting with Survivor Fitness
Over the next twelve weeks, she began working with Caroline and Michaela at Chadwick’s Fitness in Franklin, TN. Their encouragement, support, and training were the perfect match for her recovery after cancer treatment.
Finding a way to regain her strength was an incredibly healing process for Kim. It also opened the door for her to seek new opportunities and chase adventures she thought she had lost.
“Being back in my body and knowing I can count on it again after the betrayal of cancer has been so empowering,” she said. “Survivor Fitness has given me back my confidence to hike my bucket list hikes and go after the things I had put aside in the past.”
Kim continues to use her newfound strength to build up her running and keep completing her hiking and adventure goals. She recently hiked Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park. She also continues to work out with Chadwick’s Group Fitness Program with other Survivor Fitness participants and athletes.
“Survivor Fitness has been a great gift to me. I have regained, gained strength, lost inches, and feel like I fit into my body again,” Kim celebrated. “Without the program, I would not be able to do the things I have been able to do since I ended treatment.”
Support and Strength for Survivors
Survivor Fitness has worked alongside survivors of every age, fitness level, and diagnosis to help individuals achieve their fitness goals after cancer treatment. While each participant’s journey is unique, every cancer survivor’s story gives us the momentum to continue providing this service to those who need it most. To learn more about becoming a Survivor Fitness participant, connect with us today.