“Suddenly… my life came to a grinding halt. ‘Tanya, you’ve actually got stage 2-3 Melanoma .’”

Today we’d like to share with you Tanya’s, one of our members, personal fitness story with you all. As of right now, this story was first posted two years ago. Enjoy!

[First posted July 25, 2014]

How the Gym Saved Me

I have been a little hesitant to share my story with you, as I don’t like showing weakness. To be honest there are still many days I feel scared, I mean, I watched my dear friend Marina fully recover from cancer only then to die 3 years later. I am only human, so of course sometimes I am going to think the worst.

I know you’re thinking, “Wait, is this the same Tan I am thinking of? Can’t be, she is really strong!” Well I am strong, but I get scared too! So I am being brave, and setting an example for others who are also hesitant to stand up and tell their story, and to let you know when you let it all out you will feel better and you can only become stronger.

Everyone knows that my fitness journey is not the typical “Oh look at how my body has changed”, due to my love of doughnuts and chocolate! So lets go all the way back to when I was just 11 years old.

My sister was a gym junkie. She used to drag me to the gym and I hated it! The only part that excited me was my sister told me I could pig out after the work out. That was the only thing that excited me. When she moved away that was it. The end.

Then years later my friend told me to join the gym. She said, “You will feel great, and look so good.” I was thinking, I already look so good!, haha, but jokes aside I was a huge manic depressant (Ironic going from not caring about living or dying to fighting tooth and nail for the joy of being alive).

I went to Fitness First Campbelltown and picked this class called BodyAttack. I thought, Yeah attack the body! and I’m invincible; I will do half hour on the bikes before class. Haha what was I thinking? I remember walking in. I saw Kerrie and I was like, Whoa, she is so pretty. I might just stand up the back out of sight…

By track 3 my throat was burning, I couldn’t breathe and I was barking like a seal with asthma. I stopped for about 1 minute, but I heard her say, “Keep going, don’t stop!” so I was like, Okayyyyyy I am dying but I am not stopping.

Several weeks later when I am BodyAttacking I hear my name, “Tanya!!!” I suddenly felt important and special. The next 2 years flew by, then suddenly Kerrie broke my heart… Fitness First Campbelltown sold and Kerrie would no longer be teaching her classes. I was devastated.

I stopped training.

One day Kerrie messages me and says, “Hey I am opening a gym.” I was like, “Really??? Sign me up for life.” (Remember that Trevor?) Then I got to know Trev, and grew to love and respect him too. Life was great. I was getting fit, making new friends and feeling awesome.

Suddenly one day my life came to a grinding halt. “Tanya, you’ve actually got stage 2-3 Melanoma.”(Different doctors call it at different stages).

Look, I will be honest and say for a few hours my whole body went numb. I was a bit of a mess, and then I had to call my Mum. I was so scared. I said, “Hi Mummy.” She replied, “What’s wrong Tanny?” The second I told her I had cancer I knew she was more scared then me, and that made me stronger somehow. I could feel how much my Mum loved me, and I knew I had to make her feel better. After constantly reassuring her and my whole family every 5 minutes that I am going to be ok, I looked at myself and thought, Holy crap if anyone can do this Tanya, it’s you!

Then I prioritised. Okay, it’s the day before my surgery, I’M GOING TO THE GYM. My best friend came with me, and totally only said yes because I had cancer, but I didn’t care. I was jumping up and down shouting on the gym floor being Tanya, and for that 90 minutes I forgot about what I was facing, and I drew strength from that.

I got up on the day of my operation went by train to Newtown station. I ran and I ran and I ran, all the way to the hospital. I get there dripping; I was soaked. The doctor asked me if I was nuts for running to the hospital before a major operation. I said, “Clearly I am mate.” He said, “Good on you; you’re healthy and Melanoma does not like fit, healthy people.” Another doctor mentioned how my circulation was amazing, and I said to her, “Umm, that would be because I ran here,” and she was like, “Yes it would, and good on you!”

Everyone at the hospital looked at me with pity in their eyes like I was dying, which actually ticked me off. I was like, “I am not dying. You know I will be back at the gym next week.” Their reply was, “No you don’t missy, not for 6 weeks.” I am not even kidding when I say I looked at them, I went, “Pffffttt, we will see about that.”

Well okay, I did wake up with 30 stitches. So I was out for 10 days, ha, then I turned up to the gym, stitches and all. Yeah, I didn’t do much, especially in triceps, my favourite track, but I was there with my friends, my gym family. I was working out, which for me was a big milestone.

Here I am, 3 months out, and I am stronger than ever! I am still in remission, so I have my scary moments, and my journey is far from over. I had a beauty spot removed from my throat last month for nothing – what a waste! This week I am getting a scary CA125 blood test to see if there is any cancer in my blood. Sometimes I wake up and obsess about my arm and it drives me crazy.

What gets me through is I have my friends, I have my family, I have my fitness and my strength. I truly believe that Cancer doesn’t stand a chance when you are fit and healthy inside and out. I want you to draw strength from my story, maybe even tell yours, and I guarantee you, in times of weakness you will feel stronger!!!

Finally, Kerrie, Trevor, all my Kerrie Fitness Friends, my best friend and family too, thank you for holding my hand through what is a whirlwind of a journey! You all played a big part of me being okay. Always keep on keeping on the good fight. I’m never giving up. If I ever need chemotherapy, I will still smash it out at the gym.

‘Till next time, much love, Tanya mwuaaaaaa <3