Cancer Hero: Tonsil/Throat Cancer Survivor Lea Schwarz

lea and jessica (1)

In March 2011 I had a significant birthday- the big 60. Not liking my age I decided to start going to the gym and get in better shape. I was really serious, so I hired a trainer. Things were starting to look better but then I went to the doctor. When I showed her the lump on my neck, I could tell by the look on her face that something was seriously wrong. The next week brought a whirlwind of doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds, CT scans and even a PET scan. Then on July 7th, a doctor said those three horrible words that you think you will never hear. “You have cancer.” It was surreal. How could this be? I was sent to Siteman Cancer Center in St Louis where I had a 6 hour surgery and then a four hour surgery. I hated when my husband came to see me because I knew he was going to make me walk down the hall. I could hardly walk to the bathroom. The rest of my treatment consisted of Chemotherapy and 30 radiation treatments.

After all of that and a colonoscopy, endoscopy and a blood transfusion, I was REALLY tired and out of shape.I had lost 35 pounds from my treatments and I was a mess. The gym? Well, I tried that but it was so hard and tiring that I would leave right away to go home and I would cry.

Then in August 2012 I enlisted the help of another trainer, Aaron Henry. He took my measurements and told me my fat level was an unhealthy 34%. WOW! I was so skinny yet so out of shape. I still wanted to cry but he kept encouraging me. When I compared myself to someone else, he reminded me of where I had started. When I couldn’t do something, he would change things around so I could reach my goals.

October 2013 I reached my goal of riding 25 miles for Pedal the Cause. That was an unbelievable feeling! Now my body fat level has gone down to 25% and I’m in the Acceptable Level. My dog and I walk 2 -3 miles everyday. My new goal is to do a 50 mile Pedal the Cause and to do a century bike ride. Now I am 62 and I am in better shape than I was in my 40’s. Each day is a blessing. Life is good on the other side of cancer.

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