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Claudia Remboldt - Our Warrior Client Beating Breast Cancer

Can you picture the woman in the WARRIOR hat? Have you wondered about her story - why her hair is gone, how she has the strength to be in Fusion classes and how she’s doing in her treatments?

It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month so we sat down with Claudia Remboldt this week to ask her these things - because whether she knows it or not, her presence is an inspiration to so many of us in the studios.

Check out our two Warrior Workouts Sunday October 9th to raise money for Claudia & Breast Cancer Research, and we'll also have this link up all October long collecting donations. Plus - we'll be selling super cute WARRIOR Fusion tanks through the month with all sales going to Breast Cancer Research & Claudia!
IMG_0769_copy1A Bit About Her Diagnosis
Claudia has two girls, Claire 5 & Chloe 3, with husband Chad. She and her family were two and a half years clear from her first diagnosis which required chemo, a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. She was set to begin her every-other-year checkups of being cancer-free, when her chemo doctor made a devastating but timely discovery of another lump in her armpit that they were able to remove without invasive surgery. She’s currently finishing week five of chemotherapy and set to start six and a half weeks of five times-per-week radiation treatments.

In Claudia's words, here's her story.

Warrior On
I’m happy to share my story if it can help another person going through something similar, or another caregiver to understand, or even a person completely unaffected if I can encourage them to be incredibly grateful for their health every single day. We all take it for granted - I know I did, and I know we don’t do it on purpose - but we take for granted that we get to do what we want to do, when we want to do it. Then something like this happens, and it’s like, wow. Life can really knock you straight in the nose.

So I really like to encourage women to look at their priorities and to see beyond the small stresses of daily schedules, kids sports, deadlines, etc., and to not let those stresses overwhelm you to the point of not enjoying and appreciating each day. To encourage you to really live every day to it’s fullest - to be present, step back, and focus your energy on what’s truly important.

We’re absolutely engulfed in a culture of physical obsession - what we’re wearing, the makeup, the brands, the accessories. The hair. Be thankful for your hair! I was fine before, when I didn’t look different, when I fit in. It’s been a very humbling experience for me to be forced to treasure the things that make me feel beautiful that aren’t physical. My body is covered in scars now, but I treasure these scars because they show my determination, my faith, my hope.

I want to tell people to look beyond their circumstances. To see beyond the small stuff. You don’t know when something is going to happen. Take care of yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually so you can take care of other people around you. And be a warrior in whatever place you’re in - be it fighting cancer or just living a ‘normal’ life day to day, be a mom warrior, a prayer warrior, a friend warrior. We can all choose to be warriors.

I’m Not Going to Waste This Hard Time
One of the things that helps me is thinking about what is going to come out of this. I’m not going to let this all be for nothing. Am I going to carry this experience into my future plans? Absolutely. I love what Sadie does with Austiestrong and the hospital bags - and I totally get why she feels the need to help. Once you’ve been there, it changes everything and it’s something that doesn’t go away. So it’s hopeful to think about who we can eventually help through the experiences we encounter and what we learn from our hard time.

It’s been a great learning experience for my girls, especially when they were witnessing me lose and shave my hair for the second time. We got to have a conversation about physical beauty being of top importance in our culture - we read 1 Peter and we focused on the good. About what’s on the inside of all of us. You know, Chloe will tell me I look like a boy, and that’s fine. We’re all learning and we can laugh about it.

People ask me how I have the energy to keep up with the girls or my workouts or whatever I'm doing - and it's simple. You have to keep going no matter what because you have these little lives that depend on you, and you’re still here so you can’t quit. You can rest - that’s one thing I’m learning to appreciate, and helping my girls understand empathy and family dynamics taking care of each other - I take care of you, you take care of me.

Going through this journey, I’m keeping a journal of my thoughts, Bible verses, and ideas that have helped me, so that one day I’ll be able to look back. When I get back to ‘normal,’ I can’t ever quite lose that. And to get to share with other people - "here is what helped me through the fear," "this is what pulled me out of the darkness" - this idea is keeping me strong. 

When You Don’t Want to Do Something, You Just Have to Do It Even Harder
It’s hard to keep going - to find the energy to make dinner or make it to my treatment or give my attention to my girls and my husband. I always keep Martin Luther King Jr’s quote in my head: If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. It’s just something you really have no choice in if you want to continue. Sure we all want to curl up in a ball with a box of wine and forget, mask, ease the pain and uncertainty. And don’t get me wrong, I’m all about drinking wine by the box (just not the suitcase!) But if you don’t push yourself you’re going to go down in the pit, and then it will be harder and harder to get out. When you feel like giving up that’s when you have to push even more - push yourself beyond yourself.

For me, I’ve found that my faith is stronger than it ever has been. It’s been tested in that there are a lot of truths I’ve absolutely had to trust in, and I’ve found that God has brought me to them through His word. I’ve beaten my Bible harder than ever! Because what do you hold on to when you can’t control your life? I was so used to being in control and this whole process has been about who do you trust, when you don’t feel like you can control anything.

Aside from the mental struggles, this second time around I've also had a lot more physical pain. It hurts, that’s for sure. All of the chemicals make me bloated, tired and zapped. I never thought I’d say this but I’m actually looking forward to the radiation - they tell me the chemical burns will be more like sunburns than how the chemo burns are literally peeling the skin on my hands and feet. Sometimes I can’t walk because my feet burn so badly. And it is hard to think about all of the poison they’re pumping into my body, about the long term effects. I mean, am I going to grow a nipple on my ass or something?! My toes are numb a lot too - like just this morning I tripped down the stairs and felt like an idiot because I’m stumbling around, and I’m like, well that was graceful! But another difference in this treatment is that my hair is already starting to come back. So that’s nice. And what choice do you have? This is the deal, this is what I have to do - and I'll do anything to get to be here longer.

Find Beauty in the Struggle
I have a little bit of PTSD going on, you know, if I have an ache in my ear lobe I’m like Oh My God I have cancer in my ear lobe!!! I know that the fear is always going to be right below the surface. I know I will forever think about it. But I keep grounded through Scriptures about fear that help me redirect my thoughts. And I make sure not to listen to the crazy in my head most times - "talk to yourself, don’t listen to yourself." And find beauty in the struggle.

The song Touch the Sky by Hillsong United is one that really gets it - “I touched the sky when my knees hit the ground.” Most people don’t get it until they’ve been on the floor, been at their rock bottom, and then found their way back up. And that’s okay, I know we don’t take things for granted on purpose. Like I said, I used to live there. But this has given me the opportunity to live in a more present, real state, and it’s not always pretty.

Marriage is tough as is - but throw cancer on top of it all and damn. Chad and I have had our struggles. That’s why I like to share too, and hear other people’s stories, because then we don’t feel so alone in our hardships. When I hear Sadie talking honestly about how her and Brice’s connection ebbed and flowed through Austie’s diagnosis and treatments, it makes me feel better because mine and Chad’s has too. And I’ll admit, I had a lot of misplaced anger directed right at him, because who am I going to take it out on, our girls?

But it’s hard for both people, the one with the cancer and the one who's the caregiver, because even though they’re both facing the same problem and share many similar pains, they also each experience entirely different facets of it. At first, I had all of these expectations of how I wanted him to take care of me and he wasn’t doing what I had imagined in my head - maybe my expectations were too high, maybe I wasn’t verbalizing them, but it took us a while to work through that and be patient with each other. I’m dealing with the physical pain while he’s dealing with the loss of what was me, even though I’m still here. And the fear of, what if I’m not always still here?

It’s just important to talk to each other and make sure you’re checking in with one another, not trying to do it all on your own. We can’t just say to each other, get out of my way and let me do this my way! It’s easy to lose connection with family when you’re focusing so hard on taking care of your own feelings, your own pain - when you’re in survivor mode. It can be easy to retreat in your own connection with God, and your own connection with yourself when you’re fighting such an intense battle. But Chad and I have learned that we need to depend on people too. We have to work together. We’re locked into this cancer thing together whether we asked for it or not.

Fusion Is My Safe Place
One thing that’s helped me immensely is exercise and Fusion Fitness. Exercise has been able to help my mental outlook and my physical pain as well. Sure, it hurts more to do it, and I’ve never been weaker in my entire life. But I depend on the endorphins from exercise and the community I experience at Fusion.IMG_2027My plan is to exercise as often as I can, until I can’t do it anymore to keep me out of the pit. So many doctors offer a pill for anxiety or depression, but I can get the same thing from coming to Fusion (and not have to put anymore chemicals into my body.) I can go to Fusion and feel safe, be bald, and experience my mental release for the day, no matter how slow I move. I don’t wear my wig to Fusion, I usually have on my WARRIOR hat, and it feels okay to just be. Of course I see people doing double takes, or even staring at me. Sometimes I just want to ask people, what are you thinking when you look at me? Yep here I am, I’m bald.

But like I said, this whole thing has humbled me and it’s forced me to accept my bald head and go anyway. One thing I’d like to do in the future is to help women find wigs when they need them - the wig wasn’t so much just a hair thing for me, but it was about letting me feel ‘normal’ and not look the part of a cancer patient. I can deal with my hair loss, but I don’t want to look sick. That’s really hard for me. I’m used to being in control. So it's easy to see why people don't want to get out, and stay in their houses and feel even worse. I'd like to help with the wig thing because this is a way we can feel healthier, stronger on the outside and something that can help us with the courage to get out and be a part of the world, when it seems too hard. I was always able to go and be and do - anytime I felt like it. I was a soccer player, I was always healthy and able to do what I wanted, when I wanted. It’s been quite a humbling experience.

But it’s helped me realize it’s okay to look different. And that’s why I love Fusion because it gives us all a safe place to be who we are. It’s gotten me thinking about how hard it is to walk in a new place, regardless of what you look like or feel like, and has given me a new empathy for showing loving kindess to everyone you meet, especially the ones who look new or uncomfortable. Move your mat over and say, “come right here.” Help the whole environment feel safer. And you don’t have to leave the elephant in the room when you see someone with something going on - like a bald head - just say hi and how are you!

Don't be a afraid to start a conversation with the woman next to you. You never know what she's going through or how she may be able to support you in whatever you're going through. Warrior On.