One day in early January 2014, my oncologist diagnosed me with Leukemia. He told me, “Put your armor on. I will need ALL of 2014 to treat you.”
The cancer was first detected during a routine blood test during an IVF fertility treatment to have our second child. What’s more, I was in the middle of moving from Austin with our then 18-month-old son Gabriel, to join my husband in Virginia. Cancer threw my hectic, but well-planned life into a tailspin. I always had everything perfectly planned out. Cancer wasn’t part of it!
What? This can’t be. How did I end up with cancer instead of a baby?
I was scared. I was terrified. I screamed. I cried for Gabriel — all I wanted to do was run home and hold him. Then I decided I had to CHOOSE to fight. I had to put my emotions aside and “Armor Up for LIFE” if I wanted to live and go home and see my son again. Still, I struggled… How could this be happening to ME?? I walked the walk of a healthy lifestyle. I was a news anchor for FOX, and also a national fitness and health reporter. I told people what to eat to improve their health and help avoid life-threatening illnesses like cancer. I even hosted a cooking segment called “Clean Eating” to teach others how to change their diet.
Was this all a waste of time? My world-renowned Oncologist Dr. Mark Levis said, “Absolutely not!! In fact, it’s the exact opposite.” He told me my clean eating and fit body was going to help me fight for my life and win. Who knew all my life I actually busy preparing for battle?
Dr. Levis went on to tell me that other patients also battling Leukemia on the unit, just doors away, faced so many more challenges than I did (diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, weak heart) — he literally had to “tip-toe” around their problems when treating them, and even had to give them weaker doses of chemo. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be diagnosed with cancer when you are struggling with other health problems too. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to know you’re not able to endure full-strength chemo… and that your chances of winning are compromised from the start. I was the epitome of good health at diagnosis, and still I’ve faced constant challenges in my battle with cancer.
After learning everything from my doctor about the power of being fit when fighting cancer, I immediately knew what my next job was. I wasn’t chosen for this fight so I could hide in the corner and cry. I was chosen to rally the troops and prepare others who may one day walk this terrifying path. Helping others change their lives through diet and exercise is what I have done my entire career. It was then that #ArmorUp for LIFE® became my own battle cry and one I knew I had to share with the world. I began to spread the word — I had to push others to get fit to fight.
You don’t have cancer so why does this matter to you?
Because YOU could be next… or your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, or someone else you love. And leading a healthy life can mean the difference between winning and losing the fight.
So, get up and commit to taking the best possible care of yourself.
This is my battle cry, #ArmorUpforLIFE. Life has too much to offer!!