Most of us live soft lives. We’ve rounded the sharp edges in our world so much that things that are trivial seem like the biggest deal in the world. We stress and worry and focus on the smallest things and are ready to over react early and over react often. This perspective has skewed us and when things get real, like really real, most are ill equipped to handle it.
The picture above is JoLynn ringing the bell after her last round of chemo treatment. We have watched our dear friend fight the fight of fights over the last 4 months. Every Friday she would give us an update on how things went and how she was feeling. You know what else she did every Friday? She came into the gym and got in a workout before heading in for treatment. And you know what she did the next day? She got another workout in. She kept to her routine day after day knowing that not only the physical, but the mental training she’s been doing for the last decade was needed now more than ever. Hard people do hard things.
When I watch how Jo handled her treatment, and I go back a few years watching Garry go through his treatment, I believe in my heart that all of the work they put in at the gym, and all the things they were doing outside of the gym, had a purpose that was exposed when they stepped into the ring for the fight of their lives. Both of them have articulated that the training they put themselves through every day for years and years had them as prepared as they could be, both physically and mentally. Every time you step into the gym and you do a workout you know is going to suck, or you push harder than you want to knowing that it’s going to get really uncomfortable, or you commit to being consistent with your workouts, and you’re living a healthy and balanced lifestyle, you’re building a type of fortitude that’s hard to explain. You might not know why you put yourself through it and you might not know what’s going to cause you to have to draw on all of that hard earned training, but be sure you’ll be ready when it comes.
One of the tag lines of CrossFit over the years has been “ready for anything.” For some of us truer words haven’t been spoken. We just never know what that “anything” is going to be. As we watch our friends kick the shit out of cancer, keep in mind that the hardest thing in our lives could be right around the corner. Or it could be down the road a little bit. And let that motivate you to keep training the way that you are and keep doing all the things you need to in order to be ready. Remember, hard people do hard things.
When Garry joined CrossFit Evolve in 2010 I hated it. Hated it. I likened it to a cult and a fading trend. But 6 years later when he was diagnosed I knew he needed CrossFit for his mental health. He needed that outlet. He couldn’t take cancer out in the street and beat the shit out of it. CrossFit became a good proxy. Who doesn’t rage on a barbell? Those things are terrible.
What I hadn’t expected or understood was the physical and mental conditioning CrossFit built to complete and survive the treatments. I will never forget the agony of watching him go through 48 hours of rigors when he had IL2. He would send me away. I would leave his hospital room, his hospital bed shaking from the human earthquake inside it. He would be curled in a ball and audibly repeating how many hours and doses he had left “4 more doses, 36 hours, 4 more doses, 36 hours”. I knew he probably did that at CrossFit. Counting down minutes, rounds, reps, and committing to get them done. I would leave reluctantly, but comforted that he could do this. He had been training for it for the previous 8 years.
Most of you had no idea he was sick. He picked that. He wanted to be pushed, and he didn’t want to be the guy with cancer. Until he lost his hair two and a half years in he was able to keep it quiet. Even so he felt so supported. You didn’t know that you were holding him up and supporting him when he was quite literally dying, but you were. The community of Evolve was the other thing I hadn’t counted on and it’s that community that convinced me to join.
When JoLynn told me about her cancer I hated that she had to go through it. It’s a substantial hell on earth. It’s a terrible reckoning with your mortality, fragility and lack of control. But I knew she’d be okay. She’s been training for this.
Data tells us that her commitment to just keep moving will help her in survival and recovery. It will decrease her chance of cancer reoccurrence by over 30%.
Cancer alters you, but you do get a say in how it alters you. I’m so proud of JoLynn and Garry. I’m so proud of a community who kept them standing and honestly kept me standing.