Special October Edition – Monthly Member Highlight
Four Barrel CrossFit East
Special October Edition
Monthly Member Highlight
Meet Leah Gantz
Leah Gantz is a Breast Cancer Fighter and Survivor
Leah Gantz has been a 4 Barrel East Member since March 2016. Back in 2011 at the age of 31 she was diagnosed with stage 2-breast cancer. This is her story.
Leah had found a lump on her breast when she was home one Friday night. She then went to see her doctor first thing on Monday morning to have it evaluated. After her visit she asked her doctor to call her with the results. Once she received the news that she did in fact have breast cancer she said, “I was so stunned that I had to call her back to find our what she had said.” She later met with her doctor after office hours to go over all of her options.
At the time of her diagnosis there had been no family history of breast cancer. Doctors performed another test on her to rule out an predisposition to cancer. The test revealed that she carried a gene mutation called BRCA2. (BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins. These proteins help repair damaged DNA and, therefore, play a role in ensuring the stability of the cell’s genetic material. When either of these genes is mutated, or altered, such that its protein product either is not made or does not function correctly, DNA damage may not be repaired properly. As a result, cells are more likely to develop additional genetic alterations that can lead to cancer). Later on both Leah’s mother and maternal grandmother were tested to discover that they both carried the same gene but neither had been diagnosed with cancer.
Leah says she had a huge support network and that her family and friends were amazing through the entire process. Her treatment consisted of a bilateral mastectomy and a tram flap reconstruction. The tram flap reconstruction used some or her abdominal muscle and belly tissue to rebuild her breasts. The surgery took 10 hours. After a month of recovery she started chemotherapy treatments which ended up totaling six treatments all together.
There were several programs that were offered to Leah that helped with the treatment process. The two that she participated in were “Livestrong” and “Norton’s Young Survivors Group.”
Leah had several obstacles that she had to face an overcome. Due to surgery she was very limited in her mobility and her body was not the same. It took months for her to be able to walk upright with normal posture or to sleep in her own bed. She had to have assistance with almost everything she did. She states “I had more emotional obstacles than physical. I lost my hair due to chemo and had scars all over my body. I felt sick and run down for 2 weeks after each chemo session. I would have one week of feeling better and then it would be time to have another treatment. All of that definitely took its toll on me mentally.”
I asked Leah what message (if any) she would like to provide women in our community? This is her response; “Honestly, this was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through, but I am so lucky that I had help and had amazing doctors. This is never something you have to face on your own. People jump in and help at times like this, I just had to learn to let them help me.”
Leah has traveled a tough rode and becomes stronger every day. We are so glad to have you as part of our CrossFit Family! Thank you for sharing your story with us and keep up the good work!