18 February 2012

My Chance to Share!

Last Monday for the Arlington YMCA fundraising and Livestrong program kickoff luncheon, I was asked to share a little about my cancer story and how the Y has helped me.  I was honored to be asked to speak in front of many people that I have never even met.  Many of my friends have asked how it all went...  I actually felt very good about my talk and was more than overwhelmed when I received a standing ovation at the conclusion of my talk.  For those of you that were not there, I thought I could at least share the notes that I made for myself:

(I introduced myself as a group fitness instructor and told them if I got too nervous, I would calm down if I just made them all do pushups or squats...  we got started with a little laugh and I calmed down and was ready to share.)


I’ve been overweight or obese my entire life until, after having a daughter, I made up my mind to get healthy.  I put on my facebook page that I was on a mission to be healthy through Bible Study, Clean Eating, and Exercise.
My original "life" verse:
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:12-13

My Y Journey:

Jan 2011 – was recruited by Downtown Fort Worth YMCA to launch Body Pump first to the corporate offices and then to the members.  Took on only one class because I was teaching two per week at the time at Golds Gym and subbing Pump both at Golds and LOA.

Feb – Golds shut down very unexpectedly and I started working out more and more in both the Arlington and Fort Worth Y’s.  Mostly because I was looking for the best step classes to learn to be a step instructor myself. 

March – passed AFAA certification planning to teach step classes in addition to Pump and not long after that I stopped teaching pump in Fort Worth.  My kids just loved coming to this Y for kid fit and the playground.

June 1 – at probably the most physically fit time in my entire life.  I took a step class here and had my kids not been so tired I would have driven over to LOA for a late pump class.  Instead we went home and all did our normal routine.  When I woke up on the next Thursday morning I was in the Neuro ICU at Plaza medical center in downtown Fort Worth and my husband had been through hell.  I had had several seizures in my sleep, he had performed CPR while waiting on the ambulances and I had been first taken by ambulance to MCA and then transferred to Plaza. 

June 7 – the swelling in my brain had reduced enough that they were able to do brain surgery to try and remove as much of the mass they had discovered in my brain as possible.  It was determined that I had oligoastrocytoma (two kinds of brain cancer) and they were only able to remove about 30% of the cancer.

While in the hospital the Ditto PTA moms brought me a big bag of everything – from restaurant gift cards, movie gift cards, bowling, scholarships to camp Thurman, and one that was huge…. A note saying that my kids were given scholarships to any of the Arlington Y summer day camps that they wanted to attend…

After seeing my oncologist in Dallas we determined that I would begin an intense 6 weeks of both chemo and radiation to try to slow the aggressiveness of my cancer.  I began that on July 18th.  See, no one tells you that when you are diagnosed with cancer, you also need to win the lottery.  Pharmacy bills start to look more like car payments and are then stacked on top of paying for weekly blood work, monthly MRIs and oncologist visits, and on and on…  At the end of July and August my kids attended 3 Y summer day camps at NO COST to us and loved every minute.  It was something I would never have asked or applied for but it was such a huge blessing because it allowed me to rest without those little worried eyes glued to my every move.  Since that 6 weeks of treatment I have continued to do one week of monster chemo per month and I come to the Y several times per week even when I don’t really feel up to it because it is normal for my kids and they love the kid fit program and playing with the other kids.  I love that they get tired too and I can trust knowing they are being taken care of.   
I want to make sure that I am making memories with my kids and keeping myself as healthy as I can... spiritual, physical, and emotional health all work together!

"To die is poignantly bitter, but the idea of having to die without having lived is unbearable." - Erich Fromm.  And at only 33 years old, this has never felt more true!
My new life verse:
"Because she loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue her; I will protect her, for she acknowledges my name. She will call on me, and I will answer her; I will be with her in trouble, I will deliver her and honor her. With long life I will satisfy her and show her my salvation." (Psalm 91:14-16 NIV)

We all need to keep in mind what Abraham Lincoln said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count.  It’s the life in your years.” 

The YMCA and the Livestrong program fit this quote better than anything else I’ve ever read:  said by the character Thomas Hunter in Ted Dekker’s Circle Trilogy
“Most men and women will yield to the strong currents sucking them into the seas of ruin.  Only the strongest in mind and spirit will swim against that current.” 
Thank you Arlington YMCA for being a part of helping me have a strong mind, body, and spirit!


Like I said, it was an honor to be asked to speak and I pray that the scriptures I shared touched someone and I know that so many people are watching and many are telling me that I inspire them.  That feels like a big responsibility, but guess what, we are ALL being watched by someone, especially our kids, so make your actions count for good and keep in mind that the people you are watching will make mistakes because none of us are perfect... encourage and push forward!  Thank you so much to those of you that take the time to encourage me, pray for me, and challenge me!



McCullough Family said...

Very nice, Natalie. I still pray for you often in the wee hours of the morning when the baby gets up. I KNOW that the Lord will continue to be faithful to meet the needs of you and your family. Thanks for sharing!

LuckyOnce said...

What a great opportunity for you to share your story and inspire some people, and how lucky for the Y to have someone like you who can help people to look outside themselves to see just how much they are blessed with. You are in my thoughts often, and I will continue to hope for your good health and happiness.