Hey there, Yes.Fam! This month, I am fortunate to be able to introduce you to Jamie K., a Yes.Fam member whose story is incredible and inspiring. Jamie is an active member of our Facebook community. We spoke via email about her journey to fitness and how far she has come.
Jamie writes, "For several years I had been having intense back problems, back problems that lead to many days off work and inability to even walk around. In August of 2016, I had back surgery, microdiscectomy. I was over the moon, I thought my problems had all been solved. Two days after surgery, my back was already feeling better, but I was having a lot of trouble breathing. I could not catch my breath and I felt like there was pressure on my chest. I was chalking it up to all the weight gain and now finally being able to move, I thought I was just out of shape (which mind you I was, and pretty much always have been). My husband made me call my surgeon, who then made me go to the hospital. This is where the whirlwind starts. The ER doctor assumed I had a blood clot from surgery, so I got the ultrasound of my legs and a chest CT scan. They sent me to an oncologist. I was terrified.
My Oncologist said that I may have lymphoma, and to be honest that is when I stopped listening. I had to go see a thoracic surgeon to have a mass biopsied in my mediastinum (between the heart and the lungs). The first surgery was done in October of 2016, and it was horrible. I was sent home from the hospital, thinking that at least that was over, that I could take time to heal from surgery and deal with the cancer later. That is not what happened. It turned out that what my oncologist assumed was lymphoma was a rare malignant tumor called a thymoma, cancer that originates from the thalamus. It had been less than a week since my last surgery, and the next thing I know I am back for a repeat. They had to remove the tumor, which was starting to wrap around my aorta so that it would not grow and eventually kill me. During all this, I find out that I also have a chronic form of leukemia, which usually is found in people 25 years my senior, called chronic lymphocytic leukemia or CLL."
Jamie continues, "Everything changed for me overnight. I was scared, confused and angry. I had promised myself that when my back was better I would make a positive change for myself, what I had not counted on was cancer. I decided to try and learn to run. I don't want to lie, I was, and kind of still am, really bad at it. I did not have the right shoes, nor did I have the motivation, to be honest. I hated it. I felt uncomfortable, unruly and just plain bad. I kept pushing myself though. My friend finally introduced me to Yes.Fit. She was so proud of me for all of my efforts, and she wanted to make me feel like something great was going to come of it. She bought me several races as a gift. I started with The Raven, because I have a long history of loving those birds, and Edgar Allan Poe is a favorite of mine. I even have part of one of his poems tattooed on my arm! I got the medal AND the shirt, and I was so over the top excited.
So, after finding Yes.Fit, my running got better, it got more consistent, and I got stronger. I have finished 11 Yes.Fit challenges. I am about to do the Queen Of Hearts, and then I will have done the whole Alice series. I have 2 more left for the Poe series, and I am thinking that I may want to do the Appalachian Trail series at some point. To be honest, my favorites were the Dublin Pub Crawl and The Ring of Kerry, but I think that may be because we're planning a trip to Ireland. I do Fitbit fitbit with these races, so I am getting walking steps as well, and I know that some people think that is kind of cheating, but I really don't. I went from being sedentary to walking and running all over the place, and (at least for now) I want all my steps counted."
Jamie went on to tell me about some of the victories she's celebrated while working on her Yes.Fit challenges. She shares, "I have lost 42 pounds. My CLL has gone dormant and my thymoma has not metastasized. I am running. I have finished 4 - 5k races, I have not run the whole way, but each time I feel like I get better. I have committed to a 5K a month for a year, and then I will see where that takes me." Those are incredible victories to celebrate!
Jamie continues, "I don't know if I would have continued on this running adventure if it had not been for Yes.Fit. It's not just the medals (which I'm not going to lie, I LOVE THEM), it's not just being able to see where you are in the world on your computer (so many beautiful places), it's the community. I have never felt so much support. A little over a month ago, I was feeling really low, I had just had my 3rd biopsy (I get CT scans every few months, and they kept finding suspicious masses), I was tired (I had not received any good news for quite some time), and honestly I was feeling really sorry for myself (hey, everyone is allowed from time to time, just are not allowed to stay there!). I posted in the Yes.Fit community that I was feeling unmotivated, and I did not know what to do about it. I was overwhelmed at the responses. This is a community of people who care. I also received a handwritten letter from Michelle at Yes.Fit just to reach out and let me know that I am not alone. This is the kind of support that you get with this community. This is what makes me keep running.
My oncologist says that the CLL will return. There is a possibility of having chemo in the future. Honestly though, I feel like I have run the cancer off, made it go into hiding. I really feel that by eating right, and by getting out there and getting my body moving, I will keep the cancer at bay for a long time. I feel healthier than I have in years. I feel happy. I feel strong. I feel like I can do anything! If it were not for my amazing friend Kari, who introduced me to Yes.Fit, my guess is I would not be where I am today. "
Jamie, you are an absolute inspiration to so many of us! Keep on keeping on, you know we're here cheering you!!