It's 12:21 on the 30th of November and as I sit down to write this blog I'm juggling trying to put together a rowing machine, a few assault bikes, lay astro turf, co-ordinate the launch of our new facility and oh yeah... try to raise €50,000 for the Irish Cancer Society.
When I read that out loud I instantly recognise which is the priority. So I log into our just giving account to see how we are doing... and there it is €39,513.60! Talk about a shot in the arm!
With everything that we have going on at FFS right now, that really makes me proud. Proud of our coaches (for training and organising all of our clients), proud of our members (for putting in the hours to make sure nothing stops them on December 10th) and proud of their friends and family (for doing the most important part of the job, donating generously).
When we took on this challenge very few people believed that we could reach ANY our three primary aims:
1- Get 100+ people to take on their own individual 30 minute challenges to SUTC
2- Raise €50,000
3- Use this challenge to highlight some positive stories associated with the battle against Cancer and show how Cancer can be beaten
We currently have 101 people registered for the challenge. We are only €10,000 shy of our challenge and I will let Ann Gleeson take the next point:
Ann with Coach Brian receiving her Trainer Of The Month award in August 2015
Here’s Ann's Story…
"Hello, my name is Ann, and I'm a cancer survivor. It still feels weird saying that after four years, to be honest. Thankfully my story is one with a happy ending (spoiler alert!)
I was diagnosed with stage four Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in July, 2012. I was 30 at the time, looking forward to my 31st birthday at the end of the month. Since January of that year, I had taken up running, and I started getting pains in my chest and back. I put it down to post exercise stiffness (that's called DOMS, right? See - I know my stuff!).
When the pain was bad I took painkillers, but soon it became even worse and more frequent. Over the coming months I was misdiagnosed by two doctors, one said that I simply wasn't warming up properly before my runs, and another muttered "muscle" at me while tossing over a prescription for Valium and an appointment for an x-ray.
As the months rolled on the pain became unbearable, so much so that one night I found myself curled up on the bathroom floor, getting sick with the pain. When it was time for bed, it was too painful to lie down in any position - so I had to sleep sitting up, leaning on a pillow placed in my hands. I went along to see a new doctor who quickly sent me for a CT. Even though my dad had passed away from cancer in 2010 and my brother got it twice in the space of a year (he actually recommended this new doctor, who diagnosed him), I never dreamed that it would happen to me. Sure enough, they found something - and I was sent for a biopsy. It came back positive for a cancerous tumour in my chest (10cm, but who's counting) which had spread to my spine and bowel. They needed to start chemo immediately as they found fluid around my heart - in short, if it was left any longer I was a goner.
I spent seven months doing intensive chemo, endless injections, lumbar punctures, hair loss, zero energy - the works. Thankfully on 15th January 2013 (my mam's birthday) I was called into hospital to get the good news that I was in remission (which I kept calling "recession" by accident. "I'm in recession lads, woohoo!" - "yeah, aren't we all Ann..")
Getting chemo zaps your energy, and it has a long term effect on your health, both physically and mentally. I'm so glad to say that I was very lucky - they caught it in the nick of time, and I got the treatment I needed. I slowly but surely got back on my feet, I went back to work in April 2013 and gradually got back to exercise. When I joined FFS in October 2014, it was for a seven-week radio challenge with my home girl, Louise Duffy (she won the challenge, but it's about taking part... right?!). The buzz of the exercise and the sense of community, support and encouragement in the place gave me a great buzz, so I stayed on as a member. There were some days when I would give out to myself, thinking I was useless if I was lagging behind, but the reality was that I had come on leaps and bounds since the treatment.
FFS helped give me the drive to work on my health and fitness post chemo, and gave me the encouragement to help my body recover after everything that had happened in 2012. That's why I'm delighted and honoured to take part in FFS Stands Up to Cancer. I'm one of the lucky ones, and I think about that all the time. Cancer is a bitch - and it affects everyone in some way. Why not do something positive to help kick its arse?"
Let's see you at FFS' new location (34 Lower Leeson St.) on December 10th to cheer Ann and her 100 peers on!
Live music, free food, great raffle prizes and one huge celebration guaranteed!
Rory is the Co-Founder of and Managing Director at Fitter Faster Stronger Gyms. Rory holds a BSc. in Sports Science and is a qualified personal trainer. If you would like to learn more about Rory's experience you can check out his profile here or follow him on social media here.