A little over 10 years ago my sister Tracy surprised our family with a bombshell. She had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called sarcoma. It is a cancer that lives in the soft tissue, so it spreads very easily with winding and far-reaching tentacles.
As recently as 40 years ago, the only treatment was to amputate the limb (if you were lucky enough for it to be in a limb). But modern medicine and research has discovered new treatment options that allowed the limb to stay, but still removes much on the affected area.
Tracy's tumor was in a spot hard for her to put pressure on it herself. That is relevant because a couple of weeks before her scheduled surgery, it started to hemorrhage. Her doctors advised her to apply pressure until it stopped. Which of course we did, but it made for a long two weeks up to surgery.
Tracy is a single lady with two grown sons. One was serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Madagascar and the other was just barley finishing high school. Wanting to keep some of the trauma from them and hang on to some personal dignity, she called me, her sister, to help with the bleeding issues. I was glad to help her and made it my priority. I say that only to help lead into the next part of the story.
One night she needed me to come hold pressure. It was late. I know it was well past 1 AM. She fell asleep and I stood there holding pressure until it stopped - which it did not want to this evening. It was then I started getting mad at her.
I was tired and feeling the wears of the day. I started wondering how this could have gotten so bad. Why did she not do something sooner? I was not even thinking about the cancer, but more about her health in general.
I was frustrated because for years I had been encouraging her to take control of her health. Sometimes nicely, sometimes like a sister. But she struggled and I wanted her to be strong. I love her. My children love her. She is the favorite aunt of all in our huge family. We need her. She is the first to help, the first to serve, the first to be patient, the first to forgive. Why did she not do something sooner!
And in that moment as my tired brain was taking over my humanity, I felt a little tug at my heart and a whisper in my head, "she was embarrassed".
And my thoughts stopped immediately. I looked down at my sleeping sister and felt total shame. Total helplessness.
Why hadn't I done something sooner? Why had I not been the first to serve and help her?
Many in our family and close friends helped Tracy and loved her. I do not claim to be the only one. But what I do claim is this experience changed the course of my life forever.
Ironically, during all this we were looking in the Gilbert area to open a personal training studio. My husband wanted to build something on our property because of how expensive rent is in this area. I did not want to do that at all.
But I was now reconsidering. I was looking at everything so differently.
What is the purpose of a gym if people are embarrassed to go?
I mean, I understood why. Anyone that has ever been in a big box gym has experienced the up and down looks and the self-conscious movements. But we power through and recognize it is just the nature of things. We are all there working on our physique. It is top of mind.
However, exercise is more than what our physique looks like. So much more. Several volumes of medical and health facts more. And most people inside the gym walls agree with that. But if there is an entire population who feels pressure and embarrassed in that environment, what good is it doing for them?
Especially if those among that population are those who need it the most. Those who are struggling with serious health issues or trying to prevent them. Those who are shy. Those who are not confident for one reason or the other.
Those who need help from a fitness professional to guide them to work with their body, not against it. Those who need access to commercial grade, quality equipment. Those who do not know about nutrition, how to eat or where to start. What about them?
And so, it was decided. We built a truly private gym in our back yard. We stocked it with top-of-the-line equipment. We included progress assessments, nutritional coaching, meal plans, emotional support, baseline physical assessments - and in a private setting. And I have not regretted it for even one moment.
It has been the most rewarding, challenging, exciting, growth promoting years of my life. I have met and worked with the most phenomenal people from all over the world - who inspire me to be better.
It has grown into it's own powerful energy that has helped so many, lifted so many, changed so many and all for the better and very little of it coming from me. I have witnessed one person after another dig deep and do the impossible - change their life in a direction that was right for them.
And, I have worked with Tracy. My sweet sister who needed some patience, some service, some help, and even sometimes some forgiveness (because she is the mean one).
How is she doing today? Spoiler alert, she beat cancer. But now that you have the back story, Part 2 is real fun. It is Tracy's journey. It is her story of triumph, and I cannot wait to share it with you.