"Where life begins again"
I would guess that most people join a fitness center to tone up, shed a few pounds, or get back a little "Bounce in the ole' giddy up."
I was dying. In fact the incurable stage 4 cancer I still have is, in all likelihood, going to be the cause of my death. Now one might find this a curious point in life to strike out and begin yet another fitness regimen, but so be it.
After almost four years of reclusiveness brought on by the tremendous weight gain steroids, chemo-therapy, radiation and hormone deprivation had brought me, I had an epiphany. These therapies had nothing to do with fighting cancer.
They were merely treatments for cancer. If I was going to "fight" this disease and have any quality of life in my remaining years it was time to get some skin in the game. "Time to either get busy livin' or get busy dying" as Andy Dusfrene said to Redd.
Well I chose to get busy living. This past May of 2016 I walked into Gibsons Fitness to look up my pal Renee Petteruti. My weight had ballooned to over 320 lbs. and I fully expected the same slack jawed expression that drove me into my reclusive state.
I should have known better than to underestimate my good friend. After all the time away Renee greeted me as if nothing had happened. I explained my situation to her and we got to work.
I can't say it was not hard. When we first started I had difficulty walking due to the neuropathy in my feet and arthritis in my knees and shoulders. I required assistance to stand. We worked and we worked. Each session Renee would come up with new and inspired options to address my concerns and lack of mobility. She encouraged me to up my game and utilize the free classes offered at Gibsons. After months of chair yoga and Pilates, in addition to Renee's personal supervision, I had a break through.
I stood up, from the position of genuflection, without assistance. This may not sound like much to you dear reader but I will tell you this, in all honesty, it brought a tear to my dear Renee's eye. That is commitment my friends. I can not count the number of doctors I have seen over the past few years but I can tell you this, not one of them ever shed a tear over any progress I have made. They proffered their treatment, took my money, and said next. I do not mean to say they are lacking compassion, but being a cancer patient in the world of medicine is like being the replacement soldier on the front lines, no one wants to get to know you.
I have included a couple of photos in this missive, a little before and after sort of thing, (see if you notice the double entendre). Were it not for Renee Petteruti and all the rest of the wonderful staff and training professionals at Gibsons Fitness I fear my "after" photos would be looking much worse right about now, if ya know what I mean.
In closing, thanks for my life back, and if you see me around the gym feel free to say, "Hi." I like talking even more than writing (right, Renee?).
- John F. Hickson