October isn’t just about Halloween and pumpkin spice snacks, it’s also the focus of something a lot more meaningful: National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Thanks to advances in research, more and more women are falling into a unique category of survivors known as previvors, individuals who carry a predisposition to cancer but were never diagnosed with the disease.
This year, one of our FHIXers became a part of this group after she was diagnosed with a genetic mutation. Keep reading to learn more about Elianna’s experience, her decision to undergo preventative surgery, the advice she has for others who receive a similar diagnosis, and how Fhitting Room plays a part in it all.
What are the BRCA gene mutations and what role do they play in the risk of breast cancer development? What made you decide to get tested for this mutation?
A BRCA mutation is a mutation in either of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are tumor suppressor genes. Women with harmful mutations in either BRCA1 or BRCA2 have a risk of breast cancer that is about five times the normal risk, and a risk of ovarian cancer that is about ten to thirty times above average.
I am positive for the BRCA 2 mutation which means my chances of getting breast cancer were up to 80 percent pre-surgery. Due to family history, my mom recently got tested and because she was positive for the gene, it meant my sister and I had a 50 percent chance of having it. I have it and thankfully my sister does not.
I found out I had the gene in May, and had my surgery in September. I was obviously scared, and disappointed when I found out, but I immediately took all of those feelings and turned them into gratitude. I was the lucky one! I had information that allowed me to change my fate. I could take control, I could stop something that other people in my family could not!
What went through your mind when you received your results? What made you decide to opt for a preventative double mastectomy?
I felt that I needed to do it immediately. It was also super helpful that one of my closest friends who had known she had the gene for a few years already had her surgery scheduled. So after seeing specialists and doing all my research, we ended up having the surgery on the same day at the same hospital with the same surgeon! (talk about a supportive friend).
What would you want other women to know about your experience and the importance of early breast cancer detection and preventative treatments?
All I can really say is that I was able to take that 80 percent chance of getting breast cancer number and turn that into 1 percent! That stat is what gave me the strength to have the surgery and I will have the numbers on my side for the rest of my life.
What (or who) has helped you stay strong through this experience?
The fact that I was so privileged to be able to do this surgery as a healthy, cancer-free woman has been keeping me motivated! No matter what I felt (never anything too bad!), I had that on my mind.
What has your recovery process been like? When can we welcome you back for your return FHIX?
Thank God, recovery has been really positive. Let’s just say I had the surgery 3 weeks ago and I took a double Soul-Cycle class this AM!!!! I was super careful and still can't really do the weights, but let me tell you, it felt awesome!
I hope to be back FHIXing as soon as I am allowed to do a pushup. My doctor is just as eager as I am for me to work out. I am thinking of going next week and just doing whatever I can and modifying what I am not allowed to do! I don't know if I can stay out of that room much longer!
Describe your first FHIXperience. What brought you to the studio and what were your thoughts before, during, and after the class?
I first heard about Fhitting Room from fellow Soul-Cycle instructor Daniel Wiener. At the time there was only one studio on 80th and Lexington. My first class ever was with Amanda Butler at 7:30 am on a Friday morning. From the moment I walked into the room (yes, I was nervous and made sure not to tell her I was a fitness instructor!) I was hooked! I went every Friday morning at 7:30am in between my 2 Soul-Cycle classes. Eventually one class a week wasn't FHIXing it for me anymore and I started to go to the 5:30pm on Monday with Dara and the one and only Eric!
How does getting your FHIX complement your career as a Soul-Cycle instructor? Do you find the cross-training beneficial and if so, how?
Soul-Cycle has been such an important part of my workout regimen for almost 10 years!! I love riding at Soul-Cycle every day for the physical and mental benefits! But, I have learned that it is also important to switch it up from time to time and find additional ways to move your body.
This is when I started incorporating Fhitting Room into my routine. Since I started cross training with Fhitting Room, my ride at Soul-Cycle has become so much stronger! It feels really awesome to be strong both on and off the bike! I knew I was in love when I was smiling while doing 50 burpees!
Who are your favorite FHITpros and what do you like about them?
I love all the instructors! Everyone is so encouraging and on a mission for you to work your ass off while having the best time! But I obviously will always have a special place in my heart for Amanda! (Nothing like your first FHIX).
What are your favorite movements you've learned at Fhitting Room? Do you have any least favorites?
Nothing gets me more jacked up than kettlebell swings!! It’s so satisfying to get the movement perfect! I love that its strength and cardio combined! (after all I am a cardio junkie).
Believe it or not, as ironic as it is, I dread the assault bike, I don't care what anyone says, it is nothing like a Soul-Cycle bike and it makes me feel like I'm going to vomit all over the place!!!!
As a fitness instructor yourself, what is it like to go back to being a "student" at Fhitting Room? Has taking class impacted how you teach and if so, how?
It is really therapeutic for me to relinquish the control of a fitness class, and put all my trust in another instructor. The main thing I have really learned is that being a great instructor is about creating a sense of trust with the whole room. At Fhitting Room I know there is someone guiding me and rooting for me the whole time!
I also have a new understanding and compassion for my students. Being new at something can be really intimidating and as the instructor it is so important to be tapped into that. Everyone can be a rockstar no matter what your level of experience is.