Guest post by Rhapsody Member Adam McElveen
Going to CrossFit while undergoing chemotherapy treatments? Perish the thought!
I’m a 35-year-old registered nurse in the operating room at MUSC Hospital in Charleston, SC and working hard toward a bright future with my husband Bryan and our two dogs. I also have colon cancer.
I started my CrossFit adventure after being diagnosed. Let me tell you, news like that can scare you into just about any self-improvement program you set your mind to.
I never thought of myself as “material” for CrossFit and, honestly, would poke fun at those who did it. Real talk, what is the first thing a crossfitter talks about? You guessed it. CrossFit. Yes, this fitness phenomenon can be a bit consuming once you drink the KoolAid, but, I’ve found it to be for the better.
At first, you will discover a few muscles that you have never used before. I will level with you – week one is brutal and you will most likely gimp around as if you have taken a nasty fall.
Eventually those pains become gains and you witness yourself morph into this new athletic figure staring back at you in the mirror. I found those feelings addictive and craved more as I gained confidence in my abilities. Before I knew it, my clothes fit better, which is always an added bonus!
Once I had established a decent baseline by gaining some stamina, muscle stability, and confidence, I knew I was ready to take on more challenges and push myself even harder. That’s when it happened.
My oncologist broke the news to me that I was to undergo chemotherapy to (fingers crossed) stamp out any cancerous cells that were undetectable inside my body. This news was devastating. I knew I was going to be set back and the hard work that I had put in so diligently five days a week for two months would be compromised.
I feared I would struggle to keep up with the rest of the group. I feared I would fall behind. Be left behind. But none of that happened.
CrossFit and chemotherapy is no match made in heaven. Every lift, every meter, every squat, and every breath is harder after infusion days. My body slows down tremendously and constant tremors are a side effect from the drugs. Also, let me tell you, the hot flashes are murder when you are already working out in the summer heat.
I may feel deterred, but I show up anyway.
And what has come of it? The amazing community at Rhapsody has helped carry me through the exhaustion, nausea, and mental fatigue that can plague a patient being scoured with toxic chemo drugs. When I struggle to find the strength to do the work on my own – they do it with me. We are a family.
I am also finding that literally sweating out the residual medication crud has helped reduce my downtime. Who needs saunas when you have a barbell?
While mucking through all of these fractured thoughts and physical battles, I told myself, out loud, “I will not let this beat me”. I will continue to push my body as far as it will let me go, but with patience and respect. This may look like taking a few pounds off the bar or scaling a movement, but the coaches are quick to help me find that sweet spot where I am safely challenged.
I do have bad days after treatment where I cannot get out of the bed for anything more than a bathroom break, but I am confident these days will be fewer and far between. This is only six months of my life and I am already making headway.
At the end of the day, my Rhapsody community wants me to succeed. They support my training because they know that I want it badly. That’s it though isn’t it? The secret to starting…much of anything…while facing life’s hardships and constant setbacks is wanting it. You have to believe you deserve it. You have to believe it can be done and you will do it.
Since my diagnosis, my new mantra for any doubter is, “If I can do it, you can do it”. So get out there. You deserve it and don’t let that toxic doubt stop you.