I’ve been an athlete most of my life. I love competing against others and, more importantly, with myself to always strive to be the best I can be. In October of 2016 my wife, a competitive golfer and collegiate coach, begged me to try CrossFit with her. After a couple of grueling weeks, I found something I was good at, despite a poor diet and drinking 2-3x a week. I quickly became hooked and signed up for my first partner competition where we took the top spot on the podium. This only made me thirsty for more and I knew I needed to buckle down to take myself further. I hired a nutrition coach, cleaned up my diet, and started counting every gram of food I ate. The result was that I was dominating workouts in the gym and on the competition floor. Early morning training sessions, nutrition, recovery, sleep all became a habit. I had the CrossFit Open, Regionals and Games at the front of my mind. Only too soon would I realize life had a different plan for me.
In January of 2020 I was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. In that moment, I knew that my days, weeks, and months of Crossfit training had prepared me for the biggest fight of my life. As important as the physical training of CrossFit was, the mindset I cultivated proved to be the most important factor in fighting cancer.
At first, I thought my life was ending. “How could this happen to me?” I called my friend who had her own battle with breast cancer. I didn’t want to tell my wife yet because she was at work and I didn’t want her to have the same scary drive home knowing what our future was holding. We spent the day in bed crying and telling our closest family and friends. I was scheduled for my major surgery January 22 that involved an 11″ incision, full hysterectomy, removal of the omentum and whatever else they had to do. The doctor went in laparoscopic first and found the cancer had spread to my rectum and colon and quickly cancelled the procedure. I came home that evening and was scheduled to start chemo first in hopes of killing the cancer that had spread. I did 4 rounds of chemo (the fourth of which I wasn’t allowed visitors due to Covid). I then had my major surgery May 6th where I spent 7 days in the hospital (again with no visitors), followed by 2 more rounds of chemo.
My training and way of life has completely changed post cancer. When I was in the heat of my training and competing, I took everything so seriously. I was training because I wanted to win, which wasn’t a bad thing, but I overlooked some fun moments and nearly got to the point where training and competing wasn’t enjoyable. My mindset is to train for fun now. And what happens beyond that is bonus. I try to enjoy and appreciate what the human body can do because at any given moment it can all shatter.
It is easy to quit when times get tough. But the only thing quitting will do is take you farther away from your goals. There is always something that you can do to better yourself whether it is physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional. Obstacles are about how you handle them. I can’t say I am 100% emotionally recovered from what I have termed “a shit sandwhich” of a year, or even physically where I want to be. I do know that I am fighting for what I want and what I know I am capable of.