Board Member Spotlight: Chris Guay

Professional portrait of Chris Guay.

Survivor Fitness thrives because of the incredible people who believe in our mission. We’re fortunate to have a board of directors that is comprised of passionate leaders and talented individuals who dedicate their skills and experience to positively impacting the lives of cancer survivors. Chris Guay is a shining example of this dedication.

A native of Brentwood, Tennessee, Chris founded Vitality Living, a leading provider of active independent and assisted living communities. Since its launch in 2016, Vitality Living has flourished under Chris’s leadership, becoming a top senior living company nationwide. His passion for people and commitment to quality service have allowed the organization to serve over 2,000 residents across the country.

Chris’s energy, strategic thinking, and innovative approach are evident in his work at Vitality Living. But it’s his inherent desire to help others that truly inspires him. This desire is what led him to join the Survivor Fitness Board.

Finding a Connection with Survivor Fitness

Chris connected with Survivor Fitness founder Aaron Grunke during the COVID-19 pandemic. When Chris collaborated with Aaron to secure COVID tests for Vitality Living employees and residents, he learned about Aaron’s story and the inspiration behind Survivor Fitness. Chris felt an immediate call to action, compelled to support the organization and its mission.

As Chris became more involved, he discovered a close friend had been one of the program’s first participants following her breast cancer battle. This personal connection further solidified his decision. Cancer touches us all, and Survivor Fitness was making a tangible difference.

“I am new to the organization,” Chris says, “but was drawn to it by Aaron and other survivors’ stories of how going through the Survivor Fitness Program helped them gain not only physical strength but confidence after battling cancer.”

A Personal Connection and a Shared Mission

Personal health and fitness are cornerstones of Chris’s life. Like many, he has witnessed the impact of cancer firsthand.

“I have watched too many loved ones fight this disease,” Chris reflects, “and have seen the negative impacts it has during and after treatments. Gaining the confidence that they are strong and their bodies can be healthy again is one of the most valuable aspects of cancer survivorship.”

Chris firmly believes that supporting an organization aligned with his passion for wellness and fighting cancer is a calling. “I am extremely honored and excited to help more survivors find and experience our program,” he adds.

Since joining the board, Chris has been consistently inspired by the stories of program participants.  Hearing firsthand how Survivor Fitness empowers survivors and transforms their outlook on life fuels his dedication.

For those considering starting the Survivor Fitness program, Chris offers these encouraging words: “Don’t let cancer define you and make you feel weak. Battling the disease takes a mental and physical toll, but our program can help you get your strength back and more.”  These powerful words encapsulate Chris’s unwavering support for our mission.

Survivor Fitness is incredibly grateful to have Chris as a board member. His extensive experience and expertise will be invaluable as we strive to grow and reach more cancer survivors.  But most importantly, Chris’s passion for our mission and his calling to be part of our organization is a powerful asset that will make a difference in the lives of our participants.

To learn more about how we help cancer survivors reclaim their mental health, read more about our program or submit an application today! 

Participant Spotlight: Chuck Klein

Chuck Klein standing in the woods

The fight against cancer can be all-encompassing, demanding every ounce of a patient’s strength. But the journey doesn’t end with the completion of treatment. Many cancer survivors face a new challenge: rebuilding their lives and bodies amidst the ongoing responsibilities of family and work. Isolation is a common thread amongst survivors who encounter a void where the support system during treatment once existed.

For Chuck Klein, a husband, father of four, and Principal/Founder of Impact Stewardship, this reality became all too familiar. In January 2023, Chuck received a life-altering diagnosis: stage 4 primary mediastinal large B cell lymphoma.

The subsequent six months brought a grueling battle with the disease. Chuck underwent six rounds of powerful chemotherapy, leaving him incredibly weak and fatigued. Prior to his diagnosis, Chuck had always been active, and the drastic decline in his physical state was a major hurdle. His legs and joints were weakened further by the steroids prescribed during treatment. 

“By the end of round six, it was hard to walk up one or two steps,” Chuck recalled.

Taking the First Steps Toward Progress

Despite the challenges, Chuck refused to surrender to his limitations. Like many survivors, the responsibilities of life simply wouldn’t wait. He needed to get back on track, not only for himself but for his family and his work. 

“I travel for work and am constantly on the go,” Chuck explained. “My desire was to get my strength back as soon as possible to get back to work.” 

During this time, his wife learned about the Survivor Fitness program, a beacon of hope in a period of uncertainty. Chuck started in July, shortly after completing his last round of treatment.

Starting a new exercise program after such a grueling ordeal wasn’t easy. The initial steps were the most difficult. However, Chuck quickly discovered the program’s personalized approach. He appreciated the trainers’ ability to guide and support him at a pace his body could tolerate. 

“I knew I had a long way to come back, but it was a process,” says Chuck. “Every two weeks, I could tell I was reaching a new benchmark as I got stronger and further away from my last round of chemo.” 

After the 12-week program, Chuck was equipped with the information and inspiration needed to get back on his feet and gradually regain strength, leading to a much speedier recovery than anticipated.

Finding a Lifeline and a Friend

Like many participants, Chuck discovered the program provided more than just physical training; it offered camaraderie and emotional support. 

“On my own, I couldn’t have done this,” Chuck admitted frankly. 

A significant part of Chuck’s success goes to his trainer, Joe. Their connection was evident from the first session. Joe’s ability to intuitively understand Chuck’s needs, knowing when to push him and when to offer support, proved instrumental in getting him back on his feet. 

“Joe was a lifeline,” Chuck shared. “Being sick can be isolating, but the personal and social contact was an added bonus because he was knowledgeable but personal.”

He emphasizes how Joe understood his limitations and pushed him just the right amount to help Chuck build muscle strength and stamina. 

Hope and Community: A Message for Other Survivors

Chuck’s journey with Survivor Fitness transformed his life. He not only regained his physical strength but also rediscovered the power of hope and community.  Chuck offers a heartfelt message for other survivors facing a similar path: 

“Don’t let being sick isolate you and feel complacent. There are people out there who want to help.” 

If you’re a cancer survivor looking to reclaim your strength and well-being, Survivor Fitness might be the perfect first step. Learn more about our program or submit an application today! 

Partner Spotlight: Randianne Sears

professional portait of randianne sears on red background

Just like every cancer diagnosis requires a specific treatment plan, recovery also needs a personalized approach. At Survivor Fitness, we understand that each survivor needs a unique path back to health and well-being. That’s why we’re proud to partner with incredible trainers like Randianne Sears, who bring their expertise and a genuine passion for empowering cancer survivors to their work with us.

Randianne, the owner of Evolve Movement Therapy in Spring Hill, Tennessee, has dedicated her career to helping individuals achieve optimal health through fitness and wellness. With over 15 years of experience in group and personal training, she possesses a diverse knowledge of training methods and styles. This depth of experience allows her to create individualized programs that cater specifically to the needs of each Survivor Fitness participant.

Randianne’s connection to Survivor Fitness is a testament to her genuine desire to help others. As she explained, “I’ve always felt like I’ve been called to share what I know.  Cancer is a debilitating disease and leaves a lot of feelings of hopelessness. I feel like I can provide hope to people.” 

Personalization is Key

One of the core principles of Randianne’s approach is personalization. Taking the time to understand each participant’s medical history, current limitations, and long-term goals allows Randianne to craft personalized plans that promote optimal recovery.

“Each cancer survivor has a different story, and that means different recoveries,” she said.  “You can’t duplicate the same training for someone.”

Randianne also champions the importance of patience during the recovery process. She encourages cancer survivors to remember that transformation doesn’t happen overnight and that listening to their bodies is essential to undertaking an effective training regimen. 

Inspiring Recovery: From Exhaustion to Empowerment

Randianne isn’t just focused on physical recovery; she understands the emotional toll cancer can take. Her goal is to equip survivors with the strength and stamina they need to return to their everyday lives.  

“I want them to be able to get back to functional life. Going back to work, being a mom, partner, or whatever you were before, and being able to have the capacity to do that.”

For Randianne, witnessing a participant’s empowerment is her greatest reward. 

My favorite moment is getting to know the clients and seeing the moment when the tide turns for them,” she shared. “They’ve spent the past year completely exhausted from their treatments, and seeing them come full circle is the best.”

A Passionate Advocate

After just a few months of working with Survivor Fitness participants, Randianne has become a vocal champion for the program. Her passion also extends beyond her personal involvement, as she encourages other trainers to consider joining the program.

“It’s a very well-developed program, and I am very humbled to be a part of taking care of someone who has been a part of a long journey like cancer. There are a lot of trainers who should reach out to see if they can help and be a part of the program and there are a lot of candidates who need to apply and be part of Survivor Fitness.” 

Join the Survivor Fitness Community 

Randianne Sears embodies the essence of a Survivor Fitness partner. Her personalized approach, coupled with her unwavering support and dedication, empowers survivors on their path to recovery. Through her work, she inspires participants and fellow trainers, leaving a lasting impact on the Survivor Fitness community.

If you’re a personal trainer or fitness center interested in supporting cancer survivors after treatment, connect with our team to learn how you can join the Survivor Fitness network.

If you’re a cancer survivor looking to get back on your feet after treatment, we’d love for you to check out our program or submit an application today! 

Participant Spotlight: Mitzi Mannon

Mitzi Mannon and her family smiling

The fear and loneliness that grip you after a cancer diagnosis are realities only those who’ve walked the path can genuinely understand. The constant worry is a heavy weight to carry. The isolation of treatment, especially when miles separate you from loved ones, adds another layer of pain. Even after treatment, the journey can feel daunting. That’s why we believe that “battling cancer is lonely and hard, but recovery shouldn’t be.” 

Mitzi Mannon, a vibrant participant in our program, embodies this message. Mitzi’s journey began in July 2021 with a diagnosis of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. She immediately started an aggressive treatment plan, which included chemotherapy and CAR T-cell therapy. While the physical challenges were formidable, the mental and emotional stress took the heaviest toll. She endured months of treatment in Houston, far away from her family. 

“During treatment, you’re fighting to survive. It’s a mental game of staying positive and praying. My focus was my family and children,” Mitzi said. 

Even after treatment, the emotional rollercoaster continued. “It’s a daily choice to stay positive. You worry constantly. It’s been a journey.”

From Isolation to Inspiration

Through her son’s tennis team, Mitzi discovered Survivor Fitness. The prospect of regaining her physical health and finding others who understood her struggle fueled her decision to apply.

Over 12 weeks, Mitzi began to experience transformation inside and out. She shed the weight gained during treatment, rediscovered her energy, and, most importantly, found a community of support

“Survivor Fitness changed my life. It gave me the drive to get back in the gym, the friendships and support that fueled my will to keep surviving.”

These friendships, she emphasizes, are more than just gym buddies. “It’s a family. Everyone is so positive and helpful, and the trainers truly understand what we’ve been through.”

Finding Strength in the Survivor Fitness Family

In March 2023, Mitzi faced a recurrence of her cancer. Yet the Survivor Fitness community rallied around her, offering unwavering support and encouragement throughout the past year. 

Mitzi’s story is a testament to the transformative power of support and shared experience. It’s a beacon of hope, reminding us that we are not alone, even in the darkest times. To those battling similar struggles, Mitzi extends a hand of encouragement.

 “Reach out to Survivor Fitness. It’s a family of others that will support you, understand what you’ve been through, and help you reach new goals.” 

At Survivor Fitness, we are forever grateful for Mitzi’s resilience and unwavering spirit. She is an inspiration to all who navigate the challenging but empowering journey of healing.

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 about our program and our in-person or virtual training options.

Board Member Spotlight: Dr. Rachel Mitchell

Rachel Mitchell smiling outside at the park

Community is like a super glue that holds everything together in a cancer survivor’s journey. It’s how people with different passions and perspectives come together to build each other up. That’s why it’s one of our core values at Survivor Fitness Foundation. We’ve seen countless survivors find their power and purpose within our community, and it’s truly inspiring.

The essence of this community spirit is mirrored in our Board of Directors. We’re privileged to work alongside a mosaic of community leaders, nonprofit professionals, fitness specialists, business visionaries, and medical experts. Their collective voices and insights are instrumental in sculpting the Survivor Fitness Foundation into a beacon of hope and healing for cancer survivors across Tennessee.

Today, we’re honored to introduce Dr. Rachel Mitchell, one of the inspiring board members guiding us on this mission.

As a doctor at Tennessee Oncology, Dr. Mitchell serves patients in the Nashville and Shelbyville clinics. From her earliest memories, her heart was captivated by the concept of healthcare. That led her to pursue a medical degree from Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science, where she specialized in oncology—a discipline where she could harness innovation and empathy to profoundly impact her patients’ lives.

After practicing in Tennessee for a couple of years, Dr. Mitchell was introduced to Survivor Fitness by a discerning friend who noticed an alignment between Dr. Mitchell’s expertise and the Survivor Fitness mission. She instantly recognized the synergy and felt a magnetic pull towards our cause.

“Physical activity has always played a large role in my life, both for physical and mental benefits. As a medical oncologist, you see the impact that both diagnosis and treatment can have on patients. Being able to approach a patient’s recovery process through a whole-person approach is so important,” she shared.

Dr. Mitchell walks alongside hundreds of patients during diagnosis and treatment, but she doesn’t always get to follow their recovery journey as closely. Getting the opportunity to see the changes that Survivor Fitness participants experience has been one of the most meaningful experiences for her since joining the board. Witnessing participants reclaiming their lives after treatment fuels her commitment to the cause.

“Hearing patients’ stories after they participate in the program has been very rewarding,” she said. “The program is truly life-changing. It EMPOWERS the patient to be able to gain control of their lives again after overcoming a cancer diagnosis.”

As an oncologist, she recognizes the impact a cancer diagnosis and treatment have on a patient physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

Dr. Mitchell is a testament to the power of community and compassion in cancer recovery. Her journey alongside patients, both in the clinic and as a board member, shines a bright light on the path to hope and healing. We are incredibly grateful for her passion, her expertise, and her relentless commitment to helping cancer survivors reclaim their lives and redefine what it means to thrive.

Partner Spotlight: Sarah Denger

Sarah Denger on a Yoga Mat stretching in second position

Survivor Fitness partners with remarkable individuals who share our commitment to empowering cancer survivors on their post-treatment journey. Many of our partners have watched a family member or close friend navigate treatment and recovery. One such inspiring individual is Sarah Denger, whose personal journey with cancer has informed her role as a passionate fitness instructor and a valued partner at Survivor Fitness.

From Patient to Fitness Instructor: Sarah’s Personal Journey with Cancer

Before her cancer diagnosis, fitness was merely a leisure pursuit for Sarah. In her mid-twenties, seemingly at the peak of her physical prime, cancer upended her life. Three years of grueling chemotherapy, including a stem cell transplant, stripped her of her strength and vitality. It was during this arduous battle that Sarah grappled with her body’s limitations.

“I felt so helpless when I couldn’t keep up with my parents on a neighborhood walk,” she said. “I was 25, they were in their late 50s, and yet I was the one lagging behind.”

Through this experience, Sarah discovered her passion for fitness and found her calling as a fitness instructor. Reconnecting with her body after the disassociation caused by cancer treatment, she now dedicates herself to helping others achieve the same transformative results.

“It didn’t take me long to realize that if I really wanted my energy, stamina, strength, body, and even life back…I had to work and earn it,” she shared. ”Fitness gave me that channel, and I wanted to work with those who had walked a similar path.”

Driven by this newfound purpose, Sarah actively sought avenues to support young cancer survivors. At Vanderbilt, she joined the board for their Young Adult Cancer Clinic. There, her paths crossed with Aaron and Meg Grunke, the co-founders of Survivor Fitness. Captivated by Sarah’s story and unwavering spirit, they knew she belonged on their dedicated team.

Since December 2023, Sarah has been integral to Survivor Fitness, guiding individual training sessions and leading virtual group exercises for participants and alums. Witnessing their progress brings her immense joy and a renewed sense of purpose.

“I am already inspired by my clients,” Sarah said. “One participant is doing more impact work than when we first started. Another is getting way more range of motion in her right arm, which had been her more limited side.  There is so much to say, and I could go on and on about their accomplishments.”

Her favorite aspect of the program is the profound connection she feels with participants as they share the challenges of their fitness journey. It reminds her of her own journey as she helps instill confidence that they can reach their fitness goals.

Offering Empathy Through Experience: Navigating Life After Cancer

Sarah’s personal insights and empathy, rooted in her own experience with cancer and recovery, create a mutually beneficial relationship with the participants. Knowing firsthand the mental and emotional hurdles, she empowers participants to focus on progress, not limitations.

“Attitude is everything,” she said. “Cancer takes a toll on the body, and discouragement can be crippling. But cancer survivors are warriors, and I remind them to celebrate what they can do instead of dwelling on what they can’t.”

Working closely with each participant, Sarah encourages them to take the next step on their recovery journey. By reminding them to be patient and adapt their routines to their current needs, she strives to make the workout experience enjoyable.

“I want to make it fun and encouraging because I know how strong these individuals already are. I see myself in clients that feel shy about the experience because that’s how I was when I first started going to the gym.”

Living the Dream: Empowering Others Through Survivor Fitness

As a cancer survivor and fitness trainer, Sarah’s passion, encouragement, and expertise enrich every session at Survivor Fitness. In her own words, Survivor Fitness is a “dream come true organization” that seamlessly blends her two life passions: cancer patient advocacy and fitness.

We’re incredibly grateful for Sarah and the life-changing experience she offers Survivor Fitness participants. If you’re a personal trainer or fitness center interested in supporting individuals after treatment, connect with our team to learn how you can join the Survivor Fitness network. If you’re looking for physical support after cancer treatment, we’d love for you to check out our program or submit an application

Participant Spotlight: Brenda Snow

Professional photo of Brenda Snow

One of the challenges of cancer is the wake of uncertainty it creates, even after treatment. The desire to reclaim normalcy or simply “live again” can often clash with fears such as, “Will I ever feel the same again?” or  “Will the cancer return?” Navigating this uncertain terrain requires immense courage, strength, and resilience—qualities embodied by Survivor Fitness participant Brenda Snow.

Facing the Unknown with Courage

Brenda’s active life came to a halt after her diagnosis of invasive ductal carcinoma and DCIS breast cancer. The HER2-positive status of her cancer demanded a comprehensive treatment plan that encompassed surgery, chemo, radiation, and a year of Herceptin. While she handled the medical aspects with determination, the lingering unknowns became one of the most difficult challenges she faced.

“I tolerated my treatment very well, but the worry of what comes next weighs on me still,” Brenda shared. 

Despite the fear, Brenda stepped boldly into her post-treatment journey, determined to reclaim her active life. She yearned to return to the tennis court and embrace the outdoors once again.

“I have always exercised and been very active,” she shared. “After treatment, I was looking for a way to return to my former self.”

Taking Steps Toward Recovery

That’s when Brenda discovered Survivor Fitness online and took yet another brave step. She applied and quickly connected with Ashley Walls, who introduced her to a personal trainer and nutrition specialist in her area. Like many participants, she deeply appreciated the scholarship assistance that made her next step possible.

“I am very grateful to them for the opportunity to work with a personal trainer,” Brenda said. “I would not have been able to do that without their financial help.”

After being paired with Nathaniel Barnett at D1 in Hardin Valley, Brenda embarked on a 12-week fitness training program tailored to overcome the unique challenges of breast cancer treatment and regain physical strength. Reflecting on her experience with Nathaniel, Brenda expressed gratitude, noting how he played a pivotal role in her recovery.

“He was very encouraging and helped me regain a lot of muscle back.”

Today, Brenda celebrates the ongoing steps in her journey, both literal and metaphorical. Engaging in regular walks, she has successfully regained her physical fitness. Her experience has instilled in her a deep appreciation for everyday joys and simple moments, small pleasures that can be all too easily taken for granted. 

For those facing similar battles, Brenda offers a message of hope and empowerment: “Go for this program if you get the opportunity. It’s been an amazing journey.”

Brenda’s journey embodies the spirit of Survivor Fitness: strength forged from adversity and hope blossoming amid uncertainty. Her story reminds us that even in the face of the unknown, taking small steps can lead to remarkable leaps—physically, emotionally, and beyond.

See How You Can Get Involved

If you are a cancer survivor looking to regain your strength after treatment, we invite you to learn more about our program or submit an application today.

Board Member Spotlight: Michelle Hunter

michelle hunter standing in front of a bridge

The reality of living in a world touched by cancer is a paradox of extremes. On one hand, the battle with the disease and the aftermath of treatment are fraught with difficulty, fear, and isolation. Yet, cancer also possesses a powerful unifying force. Whether you’re a survivor or someone closely impacted by the disease, hearing another’s diagnosis ignites an instinctual desire to offer support, born from a shared understanding of the journey ahead.

This very idea led Michelle Hunter to join the board of directors at Survivor Fitness. Michelle is a seasoned marketing and sales professional residing in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She has already contributed her expertise to numerous nonprofit organizations, including the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center. However, it’s her personal story with cancer that fuels her dedication to Survivor Fitness.

Finding Strength Together

With a significant history of hereditary cancer in her family, Michelle has witnessed firsthand the arduous process of regaining strength and vitality after treatment.

“I knew from my own experience that trying to regain my strength after treatment required a systematic approach and a team of encouragers,” Michelle shared. “I frequently got hurt because I wasn’t taking my limitations into account. I needed someone with a plan to help me stay safe.” 

In addition to her personal battle with cancer, Michelle walked alongside family members through diagnosis and treatment. Watching them go through similar struggles solidified her belief in the importance of community. In fact, she first learned about Survivor Fitness while her daughter was undergoing treatment at Vanderbilt.

“Meeting Aaron and hearing about his success in overcoming his own health challenges as a young college student was incredibly encouraging for both my daughter and me,” Michelle said. “His unique perspective allowed him to connect with her in a way I couldn’t.”

From Patient and Parent to Advocate and Advisor

Deeply impressed by the need for Survivor Fitness’ services and the effectiveness of the holistic approach to post-treatment recovery, Michelle knew she wanted to be involved. In 2021, as Survivor Fitness announced its expansion into Chattanooga, Michelle saw the perfect opportunity to use her expertise and passion to support a cause close to her heart. She recently joined the board of directors, bringing her personal story and valuable perspective to the table to help more cancer survivors on their post-treatment journeys.

One of the highlights of Michelle’s time on the board was attending the annual Survivor Fitness Soiree in Nashville. This event serves as a platform to celebrate the achievements of participants and the impact the organization has made.

“As a parent, it helped me to see that my daughter’s journey is not unique. Finding a community that understood and supported our experience was incredibly meaningful.” 

Despite the hardships cancer has brought to Michelle and her family, she remains grateful for the opportunity to leverage her experience to empower others. She is tremendously excited about Survivor Fitness’ continued expansion in Chattanooga and beyond.

“I believe there are so many people yearning to regain their zest for life, feeling lost and hopeless about moving forward,” she said. “The team at Survivor Fitness understands this process and is dedicated to making it easier.”

We are deeply grateful for Michelle’s perspective, expertise, and unwavering commitment to helping Survivor Fitness reach and serve more cancer survivors in Chattanooga, across Tennessee, and beyond. Her passion for connecting with others on their road to recovery is a powerful asset that will make a difference in the lives of countless cancer survivors who join our program.

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.

Participant Spotlight: Sherri Hoy

Sherri and David Hoy standing together and smiling by a tree

Navigating the complexities of cancer is an arduous journey, with its impact lingering long beyond the realms of surgery and treatment. Recognizing the enduring challenges, maintaining a robust support network post-treatment becomes pivotal for cancer survivors. Sherri Hoy’s personal experience underscores the significance of this continued support.

In the fall of 2021, Sherri faced the unexpected diagnosis of stage 1 breast cancer following a routine mammogram. Within three months, she underwent surgery, vividly recounting the initial shock and disbelief that accompanied her journey.

“It rocked my world; I couldn’t believe this was happening to me.”

Sherri underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Like many cancer patients, she experienced a number of side effects, including muscle loss, hair loss, and neuropathy. She also struggled with chemo-brain and fatigue. Her last treatment left her with neuropathy in her feet, causing her to often feel off balance. 

Turning Adversity into Motivation

The challenges continued as she began taking a medicine called Arimidex. This new treatment caused joint pain and further muscle decline, but Sherri continued to persevere.

“You’re not the same person after going through cancer. But after five years, I keep on keeping on and move forward each day.”

Despite the challenges, Sherri joined Survivor Fitness as a way to become stronger and “not let cancer beat her down.” She completed the 12-week program via Zoom, participating in weekly online sessions with her personal trainer. The impact of the program on her physical and mental well-being was profound, and she expressed lasting gratitude. 

 “I will be forever grateful that this program was made available to me. It made me stronger both physically and mentally.

Grateful for the Guiding Lights on the Journey

Throughout her cancer journey and Survivor Fitness experience, Sherri deeply appreciated the support network that surrounded her. She credits the diligent technician who discovered the small mass during her mammogram, her oncologist who provided emotional and spiritual guidance, and her personal trainer, who kept her motivated and excited about her fitness journey. 

I got to the point where I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning and get going with training.”

Sherri acknowledges that her battle with cancer was challenging, but she remains grateful for the unwavering support that saw her through.

“Everything I needed, God provided for me, even this program to help me gain strength back. I will always be forever GRATEFUL! I just celebrated my 60th birthday, and I’m thankful things are as well as they are with me.” 

Join the Survivor Fitness Community

Sherri’s story is a testament to the power of resilience and the importance of ongoing support for cancer survivors. 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 about how Survivor Fitness can support you on your journey to regain health and strength after cancer.