But that changed as Amanda was undergoing cancer treatment, which included numerous rounds of radiation, surgeries and medications which left her body and mind exhausted.
“I had a bilateral mastectomy, eight rounds of chemotherapy, 30 rounds of radiation, breast reconstruction and a radical hysterectomy,” wrote the Goddard, Kansas, mother of two, in a letter to the Ascension Via Christi Cancer Wellness Program that she says was a “second life saver.”
“I was told to protect my right arm and surrounding areas, as I no longer had a complete lymphatic system to pump fluid out of that region,” she wrote, causing her concern that she might never fully regain use of her arm, her confidence, balance and much of her strength.
“The full gamut of treatments and surgeries left me completely broken physically and mentally,” she wrote. “I was scared to move as I didn’t know how far I could push my body because everything from my stomach muscles up were now working differently. I could no longer enjoy the things I used to enjoy. … The cancer was gone, but so was my life.”
Amanda, who has a family history of breast cancer, told Maggie Ward, a genetics practitioner with Ascension Via Christi Cancer Outreach and Risk Assessment program, about her struggles. Ward suggested that she consider enrolling in Ascension Via Christi's Cancer Wellness Program and introduced her to Trish Gaston, one of the program’s fitness instructors.
“Knowing that Trish had the training and experience to work specifically with cancer patients and the treatments that go along with it, allowed me to trust her instruction and guidance,” she wrote. “That piece was crucial for me.”
Trish collaborated with Amanda’s lymphedema physical therapist to develop a plan designed to help Amanda safely regain her strength, balance and energy levels.
“She understood the physical challenges I was battling, the surgical procedures I had been through and how the treatments had affected me,” says Amanda. “Trish had the knowledge and experience to carefully and gently guide me through movement, stretches and exercises.”
In just six months, Amanda was beginning to feel more like her former self.
“Gradually, I was able to lift my right arm again without fear of ripping my muscles and radiated skin,” she says. “I slowly gained confidence and strength in my upper body.
“My stamina improved greatly and I was able to sleep better at night and start working with dogs again!” she wrote, noting, “It was like slowly walking out of a long, black tunnel.”
Today, Amanda remains cancer-free and has resumed many of her favorite activities, such as going on miles-long bike rides alongside her son, a cross-country runner.
“The Cancer Wellness Program gave me the ability to live again and the confidence to move without fear,” she wrote. “Trish gave me the lifelong knowledge I needed to keep my new body functioning, that otherwise, I would have never received. For this, I am eternally grateful!
“Wichita is so very, very lucky to have the Cancer Wellness Program!”