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2019 Success Stories Winner: Alex Van Went From Crushing Cancer to Crushing Workouts

You know how the saying goes; when it rains it pours.

In 2010, Alex was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. After 4 months of chemotherapy, the cancer went into relapse.

Shortly after, she began to experience numbness on the left side of her body. Her cancer was back. Not only had the cancer returned stronger, it had also developed into a large brain tumour.  

This time around, treatment was much more intense. Intensive chemotherapy left her bed ridden in the hospital and at home, rendering the left side of her body extremely weakened.

Alex needed to re-learn basic motor functions and abilities again, including how to walk and run. While she eventually re-learned these skills, she wasn't anywhere near where she used to be fitness-wise.

At this point, Alex had no trust in her body. She felt like a shell of her former self. 



I was afraid to do anything too physically demanding, and doubted my strength and balance, something that I had never doubted before. I no longer felt comfortable going to the gym or participating in group fitness classes. I had lost a lot of self-confidence in my physical body.

 Success Story Winner: Alex Van Went From Crushing Cancer to Crushing Workouts

Tired of the way she felt and wanting to regain the athletic form and abilities she used to have, Alex stepped into the Steve Nash North Vancouver Fitness World and met her then personal trainer–now Director of Education at BCPTI–Logan Dube.

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With a solid support system behind her at the gym with Logan, and eventually her new trainer at Lonsdale Fitness World, Bryan Anthony, Alex began to find her strength again. She regained a sense of empowerment in her own body, something she had not felt in a long time. 

My trainers fostered a safe environment where I was able to challenge and push my body to new levels that I never imagined I could do post-cancer. Not to mention, I managed to shave off 6% in body fat through the whole process, something that came as a bonus!

Success Story Winner: Alex Van Went From Crushing Cancer to Crushing Workouts

We don't think the saying "what ever doesn't kill you makes you stronger" could embody anyone better than Alex.

Alex continues to push herself in the gym, accomplishing personal milestones both there and in life. Some tasks continue to be a struggle for her, but they pale in comparison to where she used to be. Having trust in her body again has opened doors for her in life she wasn't sure were ever going to open again. With every waking day, she's slowly, but surely, working to enjoy activities she hasn't been able to before.  

I'm trying new activities that I had previously accepted as things I just wouldn't be able to do. Probably the most rewarding was getting back on the paddleboard this past summer. Despite my nervousness, I stood up on my first try with very little effort. In fact, I surprised myself so much I nearly fell off! Just last year, I started playing at a highly competitive level of ultimate frisbee and am often amazed at how fast I continue to improve.

Success Story Winner: Alex Van Went From Crushing Cancer to Crushing Workouts

With the goal of hiking the Stawamus Chief in Squamish by next year in her sights, nothing is going to get in Alex' way.

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Read more of our Success Stories here, and check out our other finalists.