By Laura Newton
"Laura, um, um," said the voice reluctantly over the phone "I asked the pathologist to check the samples over and over again because I couldn't believe the results...the tumor is malignant; it's cancer. It's cancer. I'm sorry to be calling you so late on your cell phone but I will be away at a conference for a few days and I just have to tell you that it's a very aggressive cancer. I recommend you have it removed as quickly as possible." I looked down at the clock, it was about 10:15pm. I sat there in my car staring at a brick wall. It seems almost symbolic now.
I had been driving and pulled over to talk to the doctor and prepare myself for the results that I had been waiting on since this roller-coaster ride began a couple of weeks before. After I hung up the phone, I knew my life would never be the same again. I literally hit a brick wall and could not continue the way I was going. I cried. I now know they were tears of anger more than anything. How did I get here? Where do I go from here? Do I have it in me to even figure it out? Is this the end? No, it can't be. This can't be how my story ends! I made up my mind right then and there that I was going to do anything I had to do to get rid of this cancer and make sure it NEVER returns again. Whether or not I would survive was no longer a question in my mind!
I didn't realize it at the time but anger fueled my desire to fight for my life. I was angry at myself for allowing this to happen to me and why now? I had just separated from my husband and our 12-year marriage had come to an end. In my marriage I had settled into a very comfortable sedentary lifestyle. I stopped exercising, indulged in the typical "American Fast Food Diet" and gained a lot of weight. At 5'2", I weighed over 160 lbs. I masked many health issues like depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders with medications. I had completely gotten away from all that I knew was good for me and sacrificed my health for the sake of convenience. No more cutting corners, a drastic change needed to happen in order for me to not only survive this but to thrive afterwards.
I did just as the doctor recommended, I had the cancer cut out as quickly as I could and had three major surgeries in less than one year. While in treatment I had to be away from my children for long periods of time. I remember many times telling my daughter over the phone that cancer was like a war in a city. "After you win the war, you have to rebuild your city. I'm sorry I can't be there with you and your brother. Mommy is rebuilding her city." I tried my best to not let her hear the heartbreak in my voice. Being away from my children made my desire to survive and persevere even stronger and somewhere along the way the anger that was driving me was replaced by love. The love for my children, the love for my family, my Jesus, my body, my LIFE! I decided not to do any other treatment after the surgeries, my body had gone through enough. I was going to do things differently from that point forward. I had no idea how I was going to do it but I was going to figure it out. I knew the first step was to forgive myself for neglecting my health and then to direct the anger towards the cancer fight. It wasn't about blaming myself, it was more about taking responsibility for the state my life was in so that I could begin to make changes.
I began by researching different ways to take care of my health and my research kept leading me back to my roots, natural medicine and chiropractic care. I started to evaluate every product I use or consume, eliminating many toxic products from my daily use including medications and alcohol. I started drinking a lot of water, eating a lot of vegetables and avoiding animal products, sugars and preservatives as much as possible. My weight came back down to 105 lbs. but the biggest transformation started to take place several years ago when I was introduced to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Jiu-jitsu is a form of submission grappling, similar to wrestling where you submit your opponent via choke or joint lock. Jiu-jitsu teaches techniques that allow a smaller person to defeat a much bigger opponent. As I learned these techniques, I began to feel so empowered; growing stronger physically, mentally and emotionally.
In 2015, I married my boyfriend, a martial arts instructor who introduced me to Muay Thai and Jiu-jitsu. That same year I competed in my first jiu-jitsu tournament and won a gold medal. I am now a Blue Belt. I train regularly with my husband who is a Brown Belt and I assist him in coaching. One day I hope to coach women's jiu-jitsu, as I believe it to be the most effective form of self-defense for women. My son, who is now ten, is a Yellow Belt. Jiu-jitsu has brought him such confidence that he has also taken up rock climbing and is rapidly excelling. My daughter is now 16, and she wrestles in high school. Some of our best bonding time is spent out in our garage that's been converted into a gym. She teaches me wrestling techniques, I teach her jiu-jitsu, and we grapple. My step son is 19, he wrestled through high school and wrestling provided a scholarship for him. He is now a sophomore in college. In the last year, my husband and I have taken up rock climbing and bouldering (climbing without a rope). We fell in love with climbing as we did with jiu-jitsu, and we now climb regularly. At 40 years old I am in better shape than I have ever been. I don't take any medications since I don't have those symptoms anymore. Most importantly, I have remained cancer-free for seven years and I am thriving! I rebuilt my city and reinforced it with something so much more powerful than steel; Love. The love from my children, my husband, my Jesus. Love is the reason I was able to transform my life, my body, my mind. Love is the reason I will continue to fight like a girl! I have been asked, “What exactly does that mean?” Well, there's a reason you never hear anyone say, "I was in the woods when all of a sudden I came across a Papa Bear and his cubs and I was terrified." No! It's Mama Bear you have to fear when her cubs are in danger! There is no force more powerful than a mother trying to protect her young. As women, we have tremendous power lying dormant inside.
As I sat and stared at that brick wall that night, I thought of my children in danger of growing up without their mother. It was not fair to them for me to choose to do anything other than to fight with all the power in me; to fight like a girl! Cancer was like that unpleasant alarm that jolts you awake way before you're ready. I'm awake, I'm ready, and I'm NOT going back to sleep! The fight continues.
*This article is a follow-up to a 2012 article also written by Laura Newton. To read her first article please click here.
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