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Evelyn was the picture of good health. She worked out 5 to 6 times a week. She ate healthy. Evelyn’s family had a strong, healthy lineage. Evelyn was a better athlete at 40 than she was in her 20s. She worked out for the endorphin rush. Even her kids knew better to not ask for anything until mama got her workout in. Evelyn did every form of exercise from dance cardio, pilates, to book camps and tennis. She believed it was important to be a good role model for her kids to live a healthy lifestyle.

On September 27, 2016, Evelyn’s world was rocked. After a routine mammogram, Evelyn’s doctors wanted to watch a spot on her left breast. During a follow up biopsy, doctors determined she had breast cancer. Surgery was scheduled quickly. Elmhurst Hospital had a nurse navigator to help manage and schedule all the appointments. On October 12, Evelyn had her cancer surgery. Despite the pain, Evelyn was able to walk right after surgery. The surgeon told her that because she was in such good shape, her recovery would be quicker and easier.

On November 9th, Evelyn started chemotherapy. Chemo literally sucked. Sucked all the energy from her body. She lost her hair. She was puffy. She was completely fatigued. Evelyn felt like she constantly had the flu. She was operating on about 10% of her normal energy.

Six weeks after chemotherapy started, Evelyn was given the green light to start exercising again. Evelyn still had another 6 weeks of chemo to go. But her oncologist said it was important to workout for her mental health. Evelyn said “I needed to hold on to some semblance of normal.” …So she started back with her classes. Evelyn absolutely felt tired. She understood she had new limitations. She knew push ups were no longer possible. But she decided to workout whatever she could. She would feel fine during the class, but would have to lay down the rest of the day.

Through her fatigue, she kept coming back to the workouts. Even feeling sick every day, Evelyn made herself workout. She said “I’ve never regretted a workout.” Friends would offer to pick her up for a workout. And of course, that helped keep them on a workout schedule too. Evelyn enjoyed the social aspect of the classes. She drew inspiration from the other women. In that one hour of class, she could clear her mind. She would focus on making her body strong. Every time Evelyn walked into my class she inspired me with her strength, her smile, her beauty, her grace, her positive attitude, her commitment, and her determination. Simply, she made me want to be better. And for this I am so grateful she danced her way into my life.

One year out, Evelyn is still strong. Still so amazingly positive. Still inspiring. We could all learn a couple lessons from Evelyn:

Get your mammogram – Don’t worry if it’s been too long.

Exercise now because a strong body will handle stress better.

Exercise to be happy – not to fit in skinny jeans.

And there really is NO excuse not to workout!


–Kristin Rozmus, FITT-RX Instructor


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