The Stories

How The Bar Method Helped One Cancer Survivor Find Her Happy Place Again

Being diagnosed with stage III colon cancer at the age of 34 isn’t exactly the news a young woman expects to get during a visit to her doctor. And, if and when it does happen, you can imagine the type of shock and disruption that would bring to a healthy individual who formerly danced ballet and ran marathons to stay active and happy.

Katy Davenport, a client at the Denver-Cherry Creek studio was faced with this “change of plans” in her life approximately 4 years ago and before she was introduced to The Bar Method by a friend. Her inability to move her body was holding her down in the dark. With encouragement from her friends, and the support and structure of The Bar Method, she was able to move with modifications and get back to her happy place again!

Keep reading for Katy’s full story…

My friend, Stefanie, brought me to Bar Method. She thought it would be perfect for me as I struggled to find some type of workout that I could do after my surgeries (more on that in a minute). I grew up dancing ballet. I have run marathons. I was in a dark place not being able to move my body and be active. Stefanie knew that I needed teachers and a studio that were supportive, encouraging and allowed me to make as many modifications as I needed without the pressure to keep up with others. Plus, I had a lot of physical limitations to work around, so Stefanie (as my moral support) and I did a private lesson with Anna. Anna is amazing! She helped me find the things I could do again and it was the best feeling I had had in a long time. I was hooked.

As far as my surgeries, I have a complicated medical history. I was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer three years ago at the age of 34. I have no family history of colon cancer. By now, talking about poop and my butt to complete strangers is nothing, so how did I know something was wrong? Well, I had blood in my stool. As I had initially thought, colon cancer is an “old man’s disease.” Wrong. There are more young people under the age of 50 being diagnosed with cancer than those over the age of 50. And I was one of them. I had surgery to remove a third of my colon, which was followed by six months of chemo. To everyone else, I looked “normal and healthy” since I didn’t lose my hair, but any kind of chemo sucks. It was almost harder since no one could see my side effects or scars. After I finished chemo, I had no evidence of disease, so I celebrated in Vegas with a “No Mo Chemo” party and 30 of my friends.

Fast forward six months and I was about to be diagnosed with cancer again. My tumor was an aggressive tumor and even though I had clean margins after my first surgery and chemo decreased my chances of recurrence, I still had a 1 in 4 chance of it coming back, and it did. But this time, the tumor started growing into my sacrum (think tailbone). The initial tumor was in my lower colon right above my rectum and it had already started to spread to my lymph nodes. There was an undetectable cancer cell that was in that lymph node chain that had survived chemo and once I finished chemo, it started to grow quickly causing me excruciating pain as it was pushing on my sacral nerves. This time was too complicated for the surgeons/hospital in Denver, so I was referred to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. After my consultation with Mayo, I underwent five weeks of radiation for a total of 25 treatments in Denver. The goal being to shrink the tumor as much as possible since it was growing into my spine and to try to minimize as much removal of my sacrum and sacral nerves as possible. I had a seven-week recovery period before I went to Mayo for my surgeries. I had two full day surgeries with one day in between for a total of 19 hours under the knife.

The first day they cut me open like a suitcase – breast bone to pubic bone – where they removed more of colon, exposed the tumor, performed intraoperative radiation, created my stoma and then closed me up. The second day they flipped me over and removed half of my sacrum and created a flap from my abdominal muscles and skin to close me up. (I’m abbreviating this way too much but you may be here for a while if I went through everything!) I was in the hospital for two weeks and was actually discharged a week earlier than expected. I could barely walk. I had a sweet blinged out gold walker, which I’m totally saving until I’m old, and then graduated to a cane. I went through months of intensive physical therapy (and am actually still going to physical therapy but on a much less frequent basis). Many people thought I would never walk again, let alone be doing Bar Method classes. But here I am. Oh and I just started running again!

What do you love most about The Bar Method?

“I think there’s a common misconception that once you’re done with cancer everything is awesome and great. But I think dealing with the aftermath of cancer is harder than actually going through treatment. During treatment, I was just focused on what I needed to do. Afterwards, it’s like “holy [email protected]#! What the heck just happened??” and the mental side of it all starts to hit. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a real thing when dealing with cancer and then not being able to exercise made it worse for me. What I love about Bar Method is how it makes me feel physically and mentally. I have not felt this good in a really long time. It’s true what they say about exercising and endorphins! Plus, I love the Bar Method community.”

What surprises you the most about The Bar Method?

“Even the littlest movements still make a big impact.”

Complete this sentence…

Because of The Bar Method I am…HAPPIER!

 

Want to learn more about Katy and her story? Check out her personal blog here! Interested in sharing your story about how The Bar Method has impacted your life? Click here to submit for a chance to share your story on our blog.

 

About The Author Jessica Bowman