Battling cancer with fitness and family

Aug 29, 2017
Ashley Ann Lawrie

“Doing workouts on my own took too long and I didn’t feel like they were helping me reach my goals.” That’s what motivated Ellianna, a local doctor, to check out Free Form Fitness’s personal training. With young kids and a busy workweek, time was at a premium.

“I was intrigued by their philosophy and the quality of a 30 minute session with a personal trainer made working out really manageable and I was able to meet my goals.”

That was 8 years ago and since then Elianna, 41, has worked with a number of different trainers at our Wellington Village location and has seen Free Form Fitness expand and grow. Over time she’s developed a great relationship with her trainer and Wellington Village manager Vania Hau.

“I’ve seen a number of trainers come and go over the years, but for the last few years I’ve been training mostly with Vania. She’s been a great at tailoring workouts to meet my needs and she’s helped me through difficult times.”

In March 2015, Elianna was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer. She would have to undergo surgery followed by rounds of chemotherapy and then more surgeries. Over the course of her treatments, she kept in contact with Vania. When Elianna was well enough to return to working out, they worked together to make a plan that would meet Elianna’s specific limitations.

“People tend to think that cancer patients lose weight. I had the opposite; the medications made me hungry and I was too tired to exercise. I gained a lot of weight and lost a lot of strength.  When I got back to the gym Vania was great at coming up with a plan to help me shed weight and regain strength. Now that I am back on chemo and trying to maintain the gains that I made, Vania emails me throughout the week and checks in with me to see how I’m doing.  She uses this information to come up with workouts that I can manage, but still push me a little bit.   The accountability and uplifting encouragement keeps me motivated, even though sometimes going to the gym is the last thing I want to do.”

Elianna is currently in the midst of twelve rounds of chemotherapy. She goes for her treatments every other week from Wednesday to Friday. The weeks she has chemotherapy she does two sessions and the weeks she doesn’t have chemotherapy she does three.

“This summer has been nice because I’ve been able to bring my daughters to the gym with me during my sessions. My 8-year-old is a gym rat and loves to do anything and my 12-year-old is an avid horseback rider and she does exercises that will help her be a stronger rider. Even my 70-year-old dad has been coming to the gym—it’s become a family affair.”

It’s that type of family and community atmosphere that has kept Elianna at Free Form Fitness for so long. Elianna lives and works in the area and really appreciates Free Form Fitness’s support of the charities she’s involved with.

“They’ve given discounts on merchandise for people that drop off clothing at the gym and during clothing drives. They’ve also given personal training sessions for silent auctions and other charity events.”

As Elianna continues with her treatment and her training in the face of hardship, she’s an inspiration to the staff at Wellington Village and the rest of the FFF family. Her perseverance in her training and her dedication to her family and community has helped make Free Form Fitness a special place.   

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