Building Body Confidence After Breast Cancer & Grief | Work It: Charlotte & Lee
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Building Body Confidence After Breast Cancer & Grief | Work It: Charlotte & Lee

November 7, 2019


I almost died. I lost an arm, a leg, and if I come
back stronger than ever, so can you. Don’t even stop.
Don’t even think about it. Needing someone to show me how I can sort of get control
of my life again. Hit me! Again. It was bigger than an orange. It just turned my life upside down. Anything, I feel like,
in life is a transference of energy, like this conversation is,
but I think definitely with clients and just generally people
that you see at the gym, they definitely take
something from you. I don’t even know
how you would explain it. It’s like… For me, it was a numbing feeling. How does…how does anyone feel
when you find out you might die? And I walk away and I’m like,
“Wow, she’s walked up better.” I know I’ve had to deal with this,
but actually I feel good. I literally love giving
to other people. I’d rather give to someone else
than myself. Hi. Hello, lovely. Come in.
Hi, I’m Charlotte. How are we? I’m good, thank you.
How can we help you? So, I have to have a major
operation in two months’ time and I just want to get in as good
a shape as I can beforehand so I’m as well prepared as I can be. What’s the operation? I was diagnosed
with breast cancer. OK. It was stage 3, grade 3,
and it was in my right-hand side. Mm-hm. So, I’ve already had
this operation done on one side and that’s why
I’m just really conscious to try and make sure that I’m in as good
a place as I can fitness-wise for when it’s done
on the other side. Did you have any fitness
before the first operation? I was travelling when I was
diagnosed, and I was scuba-diving pretty much every other day,
really, really active, and this just came out of the blue. It was everything you thought
you understood and knew about the world
just stripped away and gone, and there’s nothing you can do
to prepare for that news. Were there any symptoms? I just had a dull ache
coming across my arm and down, but there was no lump or bump,
or any of the things that you’re taught to look for,
so I went to the doctor and was told, “You’re 25,
no-one gets breast cancer really “when they’re 25,
don’t worry about it.” So, I went to get a scan done. It was bigger than an orange,
but it was growing inwards… Wow. ..which is also why there
wasn’t an obvious difference in the size of my breasts.
It just turned my life upside down. Going through that sort of trauma,
what was your family like? Did you have
a strong support network? Yeah, my family are incredible. My parents are just fantastic. My mum gave up her job
to care for me. Aw. My dad is just an absolute rock. There was nothing
that they could do, and I know how much that hurt them. My mum really struggled
with the unknown, because you don’t know
what’s going to happen. You start chemotherapy
and you have no guarantees. You don’t know,
and that’s hard for them. I was on such an aggressive form
of chemotherapy that my hair started coming out within ten days. And you could, like, touch my hair
and you could just pull it out, and it was just coming out
in clumps. But my dad had to shave my head, and I don’t think any parent
should have to do that. I don’t think anyone should have
to sit there and, say, shave their child’s head. I didn’t tell my friends about it
for six months. I just can’t get my head
round how you managed to do that. When did you tell them? I took a series of images
with my wig off and I posted them on Facebook, because I thought I could tell
everybody at the same time. I put, “I braved the shave,” and then put,
“just joking, I have cancer.” And then explained it all to them
and went, “No, really, I do.” Some people didn’t
take it very well. I just find that amazing that, like,
you were strong enough to do that. I didn’t really know
what the outcome would be or what maybe my lifespan would be, and that was something that I hadn’t
quite got on board with, let alone
be able to tell other people, and I just couldn’t handle
the questions that I knew was going
to come from it. Do you feel, like,
you’ve got stronger from what you’ve had to go through? I think it’s hard to go through
something like that and not come out of it mentally
stronger than what you were. When I was first told I was going
to have to have a mastectomy, I remembered feeling
the overwhelming sense of grief. It’s like mourning. It’s like knowing
you’re going to lose something and there’s nothing
you can do about it, no matter how well the treatment
works, it’s going to go, and it’s a sense of loss,
it’s a sense of sadness. It’s something you mourn. And so, now, I’m choosing
to remove a part of my body, which may never be a problem.
Mm. But, if it is a problem,
it could kill me… Yeah. Yes. ..and so it’s a gamble. That’s what comes from empowerment,
when we make the decisions, when we take ownership
of our own life, and we can be accountable for it. Like, you’re going
to make the decision, but prevention is better than cure. Those scars can be
a part of you though. Like, I know my body’s
covered in scars. After a few years,
you don’t even think twice of them. I want to get to the place
where I look at them and I think, like, “Fuck, yeah, that’s me.” Like anyone who’s been through
any pain, and anyone who’s been to a very deep and dark place,
it is a gift, and you’re here to use that gift to be the Charlotte you want to be. Now I just really love
that it’s got me through it and we’re still here… Yes. ..and I now want to do whatever
I can to make its life easier. Come here! You’re very brave.
Thank you very much. Most people are looking to find
their power and you already have it, so we’re just all collectively
excited to have you here. I just feel, even from that embrace,
Esmee is like the perfect person for you on this journey.
I agree, totally. I think that you and Esmee
would do so well. I know I’m the kind of person
that wants a goal, and will take it and run with it the whole way, so I will throw myself into it
as much as I can. All right, shall we do this, then?
Yes. Let’s go. Yeah. Go get them! She’s amazing.
She’s so great. OK. So, I definitely want
to get you training about four times a week. Right. How does that sound? Sounds good. Meeting Charlotte was definitely
an eye-opener for me, considering that she’s pretty much
the same age as me and to know what she’s gone through and what she’s going through right
now and is about to go through. It actually took my breath away. One of the things I want
to get you doing is boxing. Have you ever done boxing before?
Never. Not at all? Never in my life.
Have you ever hit someone? Maybe. Aha! It all comes out now! Charlotte looks a little bit
apprehensive about the boxing. I don’t know if
she’s too keen to try it, but I know, once we get going,
she’s definitely going to like it. Jab and cross, like that.
Show me. She’s holding in
a lot of frustration, and there’s a lot of feelings
that she definitely, I think, hides and puts on a brave face,
and boxing for her is going to be an amazing way
to release that energy and that tension.
Let’s go. Jab, cross. Jab, cross. Again and again.
One, two. Two, good. Last one. Good. How did that feel? Love it. Are you out of breath?
Yeah, but that’s so good. This is going to be a really
positive way for you to release any of that that you’ve got inside. One, two, three, four… It doesn’t feel natural to want to, you know, reach out
and punch something, but it does feel really good
to have that release as you’re doing it. How do you feel? Good. I can tell Charlotte is really
enjoying the boxing. Cross. She’s so determined, and you can
really see it through the punching. Come on. Hit me! Again. Three more. Three, two, one. Yes. Amazing. How does that feel?
Amazing. It’s making her forget everything
that’s going on in her outside life and what she’s defined by,
or what she thinks she’s defined by, and that’s going to be
really helpful for her. I feel like, this, you’ve got
to really release yourself. Yes.
And just be you, and just be you. I’m really excited
to give this a go now. Good, good. I can tell.
I’m glad. I’m glad! Try it. Try some. It’s green. It’s green, and green is good. Can you guess what I put in?
Vegetables. Just vegetables. What do you think? Really nice. Try some! Have you tried it? You know, in life,
it’s not about the things you try… Urp. Do you like it? Urp. I literally live on fast foods,
sit around watching TV. I want to prove to myself and my
children that I can be myself again and become even better
than what I was before. You have to, like, sip it through
your… This one’s just froth. Yeah. Just froth. You sip it through
your teeth. Use it as a sieve. That’s the one. Clarice. Did you make it? It is vile. Hiya. Hi. Nice to meet you.
I’m Kelechi. Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you.
Hi, buddy. I’m Jay. I’m Lee. What brings you here? Erm… Guidance, really. OK. Needing someone to show me how I can sort of re-get control
of my life again. When did you start not feeling
confident within yourself? About four months ago,
I lost my nan. One day she went to the hospital, they said, “Really sorry,
you’re terminally ill “with kidney cancer, and there’s
not really a lot we can do.” I’d never lost anybody before, so to feel that sort of grief
was a shock. As soon as she’s been gone,
it’s left a massive gap in all of our lives. We all have this big hole that never
seems to be, like, there’s anything that’s ever going to fill it. Grieving is such a hard thing to do.
It’s cos we’re blokes. Yeah, it’s so hard
to even come to terms with. Like, I don’t cry in front
of my children or my partner or my mum or dad, like, I have,
like, a barrier that I keep up all the time. You know, like, even
though we’re blokes, mate, it’s all right to cry. It helps.
You can’t bottle it up. I’m really, really sorry
for your loss. Like, losing someone, it knocks you. It knocks you. And it’s about
getting your motivation back. That’s the first place
that we want to start. What are the bits
that you do like about you? What brings you joy
when you look at yourself? When I’m in a good place,
and when I’m happy with myself, it’s infectious
to the people around me. That’s the goal for me, is…
That’s good. ..I want to be back to that again,
where people enjoy my company. When you’re getting ready,
you’re looking in the mirror, what do you see? I try not to look in the mirror. You need to look in the mirror
and be happy with yourself. What you’re saying is,
like, it’s in my head more than anything else. Yeah. Once I can get my mind in a place
where I’m accepting to myself, then I can move forward. I think, with the right help, and
being pushed in the right direction, I can really understand
where I’m going wrong. I think this is the point where, you know,
it’s make or break for me now. Just getting you using that grief,
and almost changing it into explosive power,
because there’s aggression in there that needs to come out as well.
Yeah. When you learn to, like,
bench press grief, you’re fine. I hope so. I reckon a lot, with that mentality,
I reckon you two will suit. We will do fantastic together. Yeah? Definitely. Yeah?
We’ll see you later. Let’s go. Right. I’ll see you later, guys. Hi. How are you feeling? I’m ready. Are you ready? I’m ready.
Are you sure? Yeah. I’m kind of nervous to see
how hard this is going to be. So, the first thing we’re going
to start with is a slam. Under that grief, there’s a lot… ..there can be a lot
of aggression as well, so we need to put that to good use. Slam. Catch it. Good. He’ll feel fantastic for it. See? It’s great
to just get it all out. Go for it. That’s the one.
Take your time, take your time. So, within about three weeks,
we should be seeing him feeling brighter, more confident. Don’t slow down, don’t slow down.
Slam it! One more, big one. Big one.
And rest. Well done. How do you feel? Worn out. Let’s go. In, out. Find that zone. Think about what we spoke about,
the end goal. Scissors. He wants to be able to do amazing
stuff with his kids and that starts from having a strong core. Five seconds, even more.
Work them. Lift them up. Bring them back up,
bring them back up, and rest. Well done. That’s 30 seconds.
Yes, yes! I was wondering how many rounds
of that we were going to have to do. Don’t even stop,
don’t even think about it. Don’t put that foot down. Ah-ah-ah!
Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go. Yeah, it’s an absolute monster. It was really different
working with a PT, being pushed. Ah-ah-ah-ah! Come on, come on. Someone to give you encouragement… Five, four…
Come on, you can do it. ..in the most brutal, honest way. Three, come on, two, one. Yes! I push everyone really, really hard,
because I push myself really hard and I know that he can do it. He’s got that fire.
He can definitely do it. You owe three seconds.
And two and one. Well done. Just all my legs
are killing me right now. They’re just going through hell. I feel fucked,
if I’m honest with you. How do you feel? I feel a lot better in myself,
and just being able to laugh and… I mean,
it’s so physically demanding. You don’t have time to think
about anything else and it’s quite a nice escape. I just want your family to be able
to see the Lee that I’ve seen today. You’ve just been happy, chatty,
living your best life. Yeah? Living my best life.
Living your best life! Have you done the plank before?
I’ve heard of the plank, yes. I have done it once or twice. The plank is something
from hell, isn’t it? Shoulders are over hands.
Yep. Like this. Hips are over knees. Perfect.
Like this. Arch your back first. Arch it. Tuck my core in. The plank is not
that straightforward and it’s really hard to do. Lift your knees first and step back. Squeeze your glutes,
tuck your pelvis under. Instantly, you can feel that burning
feeling across your stomach. What are you balancing on your back
that’s precious to you? Three, two, and one. Well done. That was a minute.
Did it feel like a minute? No. You’ve just done a minute plank.
Felt like 15 seconds of hell. That was amazing.
Seriously, you just did a minute. What was motivating you to stay in
that plank? What was you thinking? To be honest, I was thinking
about travelling. Was you? Yeah, when I used to backpack,
I used to carry so much weight, and when you said,
“There’s something on your back “that’s precious to you,”
I was just thinking, “I used to just sling my bag on
and it was, “like, 16 kilos and off I would go.”
Yeah. But I can’t do that now
at the moment. Yeah. So… You’re imagining having that back.
That’s the weight on my back. I’m so happy for you.
I think it’s going to be an amazing journey for you.
It’s going to be really good. So, Lee, he’s been doing
really, really, really well. That’s so good. So, let me
show you what he’s been up to. So, it’s the end of week one.
Just finished in the gym. My mood in general has just been a
lot, lot better throughout the week and I feel like I’ve got
a bit more bounce in my step, no matter how tired I am. I’ve done my 10K run a week ago
and, after that run, I stopped off, got a McDonald’s,
sort of celebrated and it really sort of put me
on a slippery slope again and I’ve realised that,
for this to be a long-term thing, I have to start creating new habits. Lets speak to him.
Let’s speak to him. Yeah, that was a cliff-hanger,
wasn’t it? Our boy Lee. Hello. Hiya. Hello, there. Hello. How have you been?
I just feel like a different person. I think the main thing in my life
at the minute is I’ve got a lot of drive again. You’ve gone above and beyond
what we ever even planned. Like, you’ve done, what, two 10Ks? Two 10K runs. Two 10Ks! Two? My confidence is completely back. What I wanted to touch on
was the grieving process when you lost your nan. How have you found that fitness
has kind of helped with that? Once you’ve worked out
for 2.5 hours during the day, and you physically
have no energy left, that grieving doesn’t seem as bad. I think, if my nan
was looking at me now, she would be very proud
of what I’ve done. Proud of, you know,
as a father to my children. I feel like I’m back, and I think my
family feel like I’m back as well. I feel like you’ve been,
like, reborn. Yeah! It’s changed my life, really. I mean, I don’t dare think where I would have been in a year’s
time down that same negative road I was going on, and I’m just glad that I’ve managed to get off a bit,
so I’m forever in debt. Thank you. Pay it forward, pay it
forward. Thank you so much, Lee. Bye. See you later, Lee. Bye.
Well done. Thank you. Bye. Oh, my God. Well… That was mental.
That’s like a whole different bloke. Entirely different person. Fitness is amazing
for mental health, but that, like, was living proof. OK, Charlotte. She has honestly done so well. In fact, we’ve got videos, so I’ll
let you see the videos. OK, OK. I’ve just finished
my first go at swimming. I swam 50 lengths which, to me,
is an amazing starting point. Just completed a 5K run. Can’t believe how hard that was. Took me, like, nearly 40 minutes. I just found out that my operation
has been moved back by up to a month. Just really fucked off
at the world right now. I think I was really pissed off
about the operation and everything. I went swimming for an hour,
and when I got to an hour, I was so close to doing a mile
that I just finished it. I couldn’t find my correct sports
bra, so reconstructed side, fine. Au natural side, not so much. Not so much. I had to hold that. Otherwise, a good sesh. OK, shall we give her a call?
Let’s do it. Yeah, go on, go on. Come on, Jay.
Just one little hand, like that. Yay! Hi. Hello, everyone.
Let’s start with swimming. Yes. And that mile. How good? That casual mile. That was such a good day, especially after having got
bad news. You should be so proud of yourself. What I want to really ask you about,
which I’m so excited, is the boxing. I think the obvious part of it
is that you box and then you finish and there’s
that part of you that goes, “Oh, I’ve let a bit of anger out.” You walk away feeling
a little bit badass… Yeah! It kind of gives you that little bit
of inner confidence. You just forgot who you was
for a while and you forgot that fight was in that person,
was in there and that all you are is bringing out that special person. It’s just incredible. I’m not striving
to get back to how I was. I’m striving to find a new version, but I refused to accept that
I just have to give up, or I have to accept that, at 28, that’s as far as I’m going
to get with it. I want to thank you
for coming to see us and I want to thank you
for trusting me, and I also want to thank you for just showing me
that you should never give up. You’ve taught me a lot. Well, I want to thank you guys
as well, because I was hesitant, but I think I was too scared about
what the reality would be in case I couldn’t swim more than
ten lengths or couldn’t run, but then I had to kind of
remind myself that I’m not doing this
just for me mentally. I’m doing it for my body physically and I want my body to be
in the best place it can, so I’m still very much
in that place with it at the moment. Yes! Lots of love, Charlotte. Bye, Charlotte. Bye. Aw! Oh, my God,
so many emotions in that. Oh, she’s incredible.
She’s a fighter. She is incredible.

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  1. I really enjoyed watching this I hope they can do some more in how people get through their grief and whatever else is going on in their lives how exercise can help

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