|How Crossfit has helped me on my journey with breast cancer. My name is Michele Smeh, I am 34 years old and this September, I will be a 6 year breast cancer survivor. I want to share with you how Crossfit Indestri has helped to change my life as well as why I feel that you should be running or walking on Sunday October 2nd in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure.|
In 2005, a couple of weeks before my 29th birthday, I was diagnosed with stage I, grade III Breast Cancer. Just after my 29th birthday, I had a lumpectomy and then immediately went into chemo treatment for 6 months followed by a double mastectomy and several reconstructive surgeries. During all of this, I also found out that I am a BRCA1 gene carrier and will eventually have my ovaries and fallopian tubs removed for preventative measures as I am at a high risk for ovarian cancer.
To look at me now you probably would never know what I have been through over the past 6 years. In fact, most people that know me don’t know that I still have the lymphoma in my right arm, which flares up constantly with strenuous workouts and that I require lymphatic drainage every once in a while. They might not be aware that I visit the oncology department a couple of times a year for regular screenings. And they don’t know, that because of breast cancer, I was left with hideous scars and numbness that I will have for the rest of my life. I no longer have any breast tissue, leaving me with absolutely no feeling and no sense of touch. Women are so hard on themselves as it is, so I can’t tell you that I didn’t think I was one of the strangest looking creatures. But, what I can honestly tell you is that I'm now OK with what was given to me and I am still here to talk about it.
Why am I telling you all of this? I’m not looking for pity nor do I want you to feel sad. I am sharing my story with you because I know right now there is someone reading this that is either going through something similar or knows someone that is facing a similar journey. Breast cancer affects each one of us – and we all have to learn how to live with the disease and how it impacts oneself and one another. Each journey is different, but in the end, it’s the same. We all share a common bond. I know how you feel. To hear the words, “you have cancer” is devastating and you feel that your life is over when those three little words are uttered.
I’m here to tell you – to show you – that IT’S NOT. When you learn you can make the best of it – it’s amazing. You, too, can pass along your story, your knowledge, your struggles and your compassion. It has taken me almost 6 years to realize this and I truly believe Crossfit Indestri is one of the major things has helped me get to this crucial stage.
In 2010, I saw an ad in the Collingwood paper about a new Crossfit gym and I decided to join, having NO idea what I was getting myself into. At first, I did not completely understand the concept, but I kept with it for a while, then stopped, tI decided to try it again. I am now officially addicted. Since January 2011, I have been an avid Crossfitter and feel stronger every day, both mentally and physically. Not only is it a constant challenge, it continues to push me to be the best I can be. I feel the strongest and healthiest I have ever felt, Crossfit Indestri has been a huge part of my journey.
Never before have I been this ready to talk about my experiences – and I mean really talk about it. I want to get it out there. I want to let other young women know that there is a HUGE light at the end of this tunnel. It’s a process and there’s still a journey ahead of me – whether it’s more surgery, oncology screenings or my emotions. I’m here to tell you that I now feel so strong, so healthy, so beautiful – for the first time in YEARS.
So, please join me, my husband and my CROSSFIT INDESTRI team on Sunday, September 25th for a Family Fundraiser BBQ at Crossfit Indestri (23 Stewart Rd). Help raise funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure. I very much look forward to meeting you and talking with you about Crossfit and our local run site.
Michelle Smeh, 34 year old breast cancer Survivor, Crossfit Indestri team captain and Collingwood Run for the Cure Community Outreach Coordinator.
photo credit: Jeff White