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Michael Rich 01-23-2006 08:56 PM

I’ve been thinking about posting my story for a while now and hope it provides some inspiration. Back in August of 2004 I was your basic overworked, overstressed, 34 year old corporate guy with a wife and two small children. I didn’t think that I was in good shape nor terribly out of shape – just fit enough to play pick-up basketball once a week. Then my whole world came crashing down when after a pain in my chest led to a series of tests that revealed a large tumor (12cm x 9cm) growing between my lungs and next to my heart. A biopsy led to the diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Life-threatening illness quickly teaches you that there is little that matters other than your health and your family. Fortunately after four months of chemotherapy and a month of radiation, my cancer was put in remission.

Immediately after I was diagnosed, my brother stepped in as my guru and trainer. While going through treatment, I met him at the gym everyday that I wasn’t having chemo or too weak and began training. (I’d never worked out in a gym in my life. Cancer makes it easy to change your life.) I was instructed by my oncologist not to over exert myself while going through chemo, but through a strength and flexibility program and yoga I was able to build my fitness and maintain energy despite the effects of the chemo and cancer. I’m convinced that my exercise routine and improved diet (I completely cleaned up my diet.) were major factors in the success of my treatment as well as my tolerance of the drugs and radiation. Once I finished treatment I went back to work but also ratcheted up my training and really started to get in shape. Now my brother was already pretty progressive in his thinking about fitness, and then he discovered Crossfit and got hooked. So last summer we both started basing our workouts on CrossFit, and the results have been tremendous. So here I am a little over a year after nearly dying, and I’m cancer-free and in the best shape of my life. I never imagined that I could do things like handstand push-ups or complete a Fran (and love doing it too). My wife thinks I’m a different person (and a little bit nuts). (I’ve got a long way to go to catch up to the folks here. I’ve hit 14 rounds with “Cindy”, “Jackie” is at 12:30, and “Fran” w/75 lbs at 9:00.)

I promote CrossFit to anyone who will listen to me as well as the overall benefits of exercise to cancer patients and survivors. From sickness to wellness to fitness I’ve ridden the whole curve in a year. After cancer my health is my top priority, and CrossFit is my program.

Thank you.

Larry Lindenman 01-24-2006 05:41 AM

Truly an excellent story and a great first post. Please keep posting and welcome!

Kenneth Urakawa 01-24-2006 06:36 AM

Thanks for posting. Congratulations to you on your health. One of my best friends has gone 2 rounds with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and has had a clean bill of health for almost 3 years now. He and his doctors credit his fitness for pulling him through the treatments as well.

Keep up the strong work! Welcome aboard.

Frank DiMeo 01-24-2006 07:59 AM

Michael, welcome to CrossFit!
Your tenacity is exemplary!
Keep up the good work!

Russ Greene 01-24-2006 10:58 AM

This is one inspiring post. Thanks for sharing your story Michael.

Sheila Gruenwald 01-24-2006 11:33 AM

WOW!! Michael, you are an inspiration and an excuse stealer!!! Way to go


greg bass 01-24-2006 11:55 PM

You are truly living strong!

Richard Paul Ham-Williams 01-26-2006 02:40 AM

Good on you dude, cancer doesnt have to beat people down like we think it does.

Good fortune and good health to you my friend

Carrie Klumpar 01-27-2006 12:18 AM

Thanks for taking the time to post, Michael. Great story--you deserve huge credit for taking action to do the right things for yourself.

I've led CrossFit classes for (mostly 50+ year-old) cancer-survivor women, and it's amazing the determination they bring to what they're doing. I think some of that comes from the very real understanding they have of the importance of health and the power of diet and exercise in shaping it.

Congrats on your progress--and on the respectable times on those benchmark workouts.

Michael J. Joyce 01-27-2006 01:06 AM

Thank you, Michael.

Welcome aboard, and strong work!!

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