One of the sad realities of life is that cancer exists. More people than not have had cancer affect their life in some way shape or form. Whether it be a direct family member, a friend's family member, or a neighbor, this disease seems to have an unlimited reach. One Iowa woman, named Colleen Grote, received the devastating news she had stage 2A breast cancer, last year, at the age of 34, which rocked her entire world.

“I had two tumors, one was two centimeters and the other was 1.8 centimeters, and I was what they call triple positive. I needed to have 12 rounds of chemotherapy,” said Grote, who underwent a double mastectomy last August.

 

What makes Colleen's story so amazing is she didn't let this news stop her from pursuing her fitness goal of competing in the Crossfit Quarterfinals. However, before any of these goals could take shape, she had to focus on staying alive. She said her family is what helped keep her going. Her two daughters, Madelyn and Olivia were there with her every step of the way. She describes Madelyn as "the most empathetic person she has ever met" and how both her children kept her going. "I don't know if they will ever know how important they were to me during this time." Not only does Colleen have a strong support system at home she would also use the gym for support, in whatever way her body would allow her.

Colleen has been a CrossFit 151 member, in Marion, for a little over 4 years and she didn't let this disease or chemo treatments stop her from going to work out. She was forced to take some time off due to a double mastectomy, as well as 6 more weeks in January, after another surgery. Impressively, Colleen still made it to the gym 37 out of 52 weeks, this year. She would even make her workouts after chemo treatments and believes they helped reduce some of the side effects of chemo, she said in this report.

I would leave chemo and go straight to the gym and do whatever I could do that day,” she said. “My body wasn’t always super happy and there were a lot of side effects from the chemo, but I also found that the more I moved my body the better I felt, even on days where I didn’t mentally feel like it."

Colleen also believes that finding the non-profit, Barbells for Boobs,  helped let her know it was possible to keep going. Barbells for Boobs was founded by CrossFit athlete, Zionna Hanson, and has helped "raise more than $20 million for women affected by breast cancer."   


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The great news now, Colleen is cancer-free. She does still go in for drug infusions once every three weeks, to kill anything microscopic that could still be there. Colleen has completed the goal of competing in the Crossfit Quarterfinal, which happened last weekend, and has since moved on to a different goal. She's trying to raise as much money as possible for Barbells and Boobs according to Morning Chalk Up

“They helped me see that cancer doesn’t have to take away everything that’s important to you. It changes things. My workouts looked different for a while, but there are ways to keep chasing your goals."

 

Colleen's last message is, if something feels off, stand up for yourself and speak out. She was turned down for a mammogram multiple times.

“I called six times before they let me book a mammogram. And when I finally convinced them to let me come in I was diagnosed three days later."

 

According to a Cancer in Iowa Report, over 2,825 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, in Iowa. According to cancer.org women ages, 40-44, should start an annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish, women ages,45-54, should get a mammogram every year, and women over 55, should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or continue screening yearly if they wish.

 

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