Participant Spotlight: Amy McConkey

A cancer diagnosis often plunges individuals into a sea of uncertainty. The days and weeks following the diagnosis can be filled with confusion and apprehension. While proactive screening, advancements in medical technology, and the expertise of oncologists have improved cancer detection and treatment, each patient’s journey remains unique.

Amy McConkey’s experience exemplifies this blend of gratitude and navigating the unexpected. After an annual mammogram, a biopsy revealed two tumors in each breast, leading to a diagnosis of Grade 2 breast cancer. Amy was scheduled for a follow-up MRI and an appointment with an oncologist two days later. This initial appointment lasted three hours, and the results from the MRI significantly altered the course of Amy’s journey.

An Unexpected Diagnosis

During that initial three-hour appointment, Amy received a life-altering diagnosis that transformed her breast cancer journey. Instead of the Grade 2 breast cancer initially identified, Amy learned that she had an invasive, aggressive HER2-positive breast cancer. This aggressive form of cancer had formed tumors both within and outside her breast ducts. 

“We thought we knew the treatment plan until we heard the words that more test results showed HER2 Positive Breast Cancer.”

Amy remembers that moment as a whirlwind of emotions, describing the experience as a “roller coaster ride” that had just taken a terrifying turn.  Despite the overwhelming news, Amy expressed gratitude for her oncologist’s compassionate approach and the time he dedicated to explaining the details of her condition and outlining the aggressive treatment plan that lay ahead. This plan involved six rounds of chemotherapy administered every three weeks, followed by surgery.

“At that point, life became one appointment after the other.” 

Amy started her first round of chemo in September 2021. Five months later, she had a double mastectomy and almost immediately began another 14 rounds of targeted treatment for any cancer cells that might still be in her bloodstream. Amy completed treatment in December of 2022. During that time, she also had a complete hysterectomy. Despite the challenging treatment, Amy looks back on it with a grateful mindset. 

“I am so thankful for the wonderful facility at TN Cancer Specialist, the doctors, nurses, and life-long friendships that were formed during this time.”

Life After Cancer Treatment

Exhausted from the grueling 20 rounds of treatment, Amy found herself constantly tired. Her bones ached, and her physical strength had dwindled. 

“After ringing the bell on December 7, I thought life would finally be back to normal. That was not the case.”

Amy discussed her lingering concerns with her oncologist and surgeon. She knew she could find a personal trainer at a local gym, but that process was somewhat intimidating. She wanted a trainer who understood the lingering effects of chemotherapy and could tailor a plan to address her specific needs. 

That’s when she was introduced to the program at Survivor Fitness. 

Amy thought working out with a personal trainer might be embarrassing. Still, she reminded herself that nothing she faced would be as complicated as walking into the treatment room for her first round of chemo. 

“Reminding myself of the steps I’ve already taken helped me get through the anxiety on my first day of workouts. I knew I had to get outside of my comfort zone to reach a new and better level of health and fitness.” 

Growing Stronger and Healthier

Over the next twelve weeks, Amy worked alongside her trainer, Kathleen Bullock. From the initial session, Amy remembers how patient, supportive, and encouraging Kathleen was as she helped her set goals and gain confidence. Twice a week, Amy would wake up early and drive an hour to make her 8:00 a.m. workout session. As someone who had never enjoyed the gym, her own dedication surprised her.

Amy also appreciated receiving guidance from a registered dietitian as part of the program. Like many survivors, Amy was overwhelmed by the nutritional articles that often contained contradictory information. Amy’s dietitian provided guidance for pre and post-workout meals and daily meal prepping tips

“With my trainer’s support and guidance from my dietitian, I am stronger and healthier than before my diagnosis. Being able to work out is one of the many things I took for granted before being diagnosed. Now, I view it as something I get to do, NOT just something else I have to do.”

Becoming Better, Not Bitter

Looking back on her journey through diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, Amy believes that maintaining a positive outlook was one of the most important practices to keep her going — especially on days when it seemed like the only thing she could control was her attitude. 

“I had to choose whether I was going to become bitter or better. I believe the challenges I have faced have made me better. I am blessed to be surrounded by caring and supportive friends and family, doctors, nurses, and now a Survivor Fitness community.” 

She recently celebrated her two-year “cancerversary”! More than anything, Amy hopes that her story can encourage and support others on their journey the way she has been so graciously supported.

Support and Strength for Cancer 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.