Breast Cancer 2 Bikini, Part 1
Once chemotherapy, radiation, mastectomies and, in some cases, reconstruction surgeries are over, many breast cancer survivors ask the question - what now? For a group of area women, the answer is to take back their bodies with fitness, fellowship and an itty-bitty bikini. Meet the Breast Cancer 2 Bikini ladies in Health Watch.
Armed with power and perspective, a group of women is pushing together towards an impressive goal.
"We're working for 22 weeks to be on stage in bikinis,” explains Heather Reimer, who brainstormed the concept behind a journey to compete in the Nevada State Bodybuilding, Figure and Bikini Championships in June.
The training is intense, but it’s nothing compared to the battle these women have already endured. "I lost a lot of weight and my hair. I lost my breasts,” shares Jamie DeBates.
"I was diagnosed at the age of 31,” adds Kelly Albright-Thiele.
Barbara Owen recalls losing hope, "I was literally on my death bed."
And Joy Cuciak refused to negotiate with breast cancer. "I am not doing a two-step slow dance with cancer."
But after chemotherapy, radiation, blood tests, scans and surgeries, these women are on a new, six-month journey to take back control of their bodies. And Channel 2 News is taking you behind the scenes every step of the way.
Mena Spodobalski is the owner of Evoke Fitness in Reno. "Let's try to go a little faster, ladies,” she encouragingly yells.
“Is she serious?'" they gasp.
Mena, and her team, are donating their time, space and expertise to get these women into the best shape of their lives for the fitness competition. "So excited to be able to help these women find confidence and empowerment through exercise,” says Mena.
The “Breast Cancer 2 Bikini” women lift weights three days a week. As they build muscle, they are also growing relationships with women who can relate. "It's such an inspiration to be next to someone that has fought the battle you have or currently is and we're all supporting each other,” explains Kelly.
This goal couldn’t have come at a better time for one warrior, in particular. Shelby Adams has incurable metastatic breast cancer. It spread to her bones and she needs treatment the rest of her life. The first day training at Evoke went great.
"I have a lot of energy right now, but I've been off chemo for two-and-a-half-weeks."
Days later, it takes all the strength and the support of her family to get through some of the most painful pokes she’s experienced. She gets shots in her abdomen and thighs that shut down her estrogen-producing organs for chemotherapy to work. “The reality is I'm not going to beat this. My body at some point will give out and it'll be like I can't do this anymore."
Until that day, the 42 year old wants to live and do things she never imagined – like a fitness competition – with a group of women who prove she’s not alone; a group where battle wounds are embraced; a sisterhood of survivors who will encourage each other along the way.
Shelby's friends are hosting a fundraiser to help her pay for her treatment which costs $11,000 per month. Ribs & Zin is happening at Midtown Wine Bar on Saturday, March 12th at 5 p.m. Tickets for wine and appetizers are $50 at the door. There will be live music and a silent auction. It is open to the public.