When I heard the words “you have cancer” it’s true what they say… my life did pass before my eyes. I had just turned 30 and when I looked back, I thought to myself, “What have I done with my life?” I wasn’t happy; an overwhelming sense of sadness accompanied by fear overcame me. I felt I had not accomplished anything with my life and now it was over.
Thankfully, it wasn’t over. After several months of chemo and radiation treatments I was in remission and I was extremely grateful. However there was no big celebration. Sadly, just as I was finishing my treatments my mom’s breast cancer returned and my focus was swiftly changed to her care. I didn’t have time to celebrate; all I could think about was saving my mom. I began researching on the internet all I could about cancer and how to beat it, I enrolled in courses and changed my lifestyle while trying to help her. Unfortunately my mom’s aggressive cancer won the battle and she passed away a year later. Even though I wasn’t able to change her outcome, I continued my pursuit to living a healthier life and learning all I could about supplementation, vitamins and healthy foods that can make a difference. It was amazing to me to learn what simple changes in your lifestyle can make a big impact on your future and your health.
A few years passed and lumps developed in my breasts and they had become so painful. I went in to talk to a specialist and right away the decision was clear to me that I would have a double mastectomy. It was my choice and after watching my mom battle cancer on and off for 6 years; I knew this was the right decision for me. I’m not saying this decision is right for everyone but for my reasons, it was.
It was a long process and emotionally draining at times. After having the procedure and then reconstruction things still were not right. I ended up going in for a second opinion years later and having to undergo 2 more reconstructions to fix various issues but everything is all good now.
Only a few months after my last surgery, my father unexpectedly passed away from heart failure. It seemed like it was one bad thing after another but I knew I had a choice; I could let myself easily sink into a deep depression or I could focus on something positive and try to move forward.
I chose to do something I had never thought I would ever do but I knew it would take months of dedication and focus and that was just what I needed. I decided to take my fitness to a whole new level and train even harder and compete in a fitness competition.
I had taken several holistic health courses and my work outs had started to become more frequent but this type of training took my life into a new ball game. Training 6 times a week; keeping my foods to a very strict diet and practising a posing routine regularly was my new normal. My life was all about the competition and this was great for me to focus on.
When it came time to compete I was very nervous and excited at the same time. It was an incredible experience in which I made new friendships that will last a lifetime and I ended up placing very well! Next thing you know I was moving forward and competing 2 more times; gaining my PRO status. Things just haven’t been the same since!
These days I still continue to learn as much as I can and am almost done my nutritional consulting certification. I took my business consulting background and paired it with my passion for health and fitness and launched a fitness clothing line (www.unlimited-apparel.com) and a virtual assistant site for health professionals (www.tanyawest.ca). The health and fitness industry is now where my heart lies and I want to inspire others to be the healthiest they can be! Now 10 years later after my first diagnosis, I feel like I can look back and say “Yes, I did something great and I am happy”.
This year I am following a new goal of mine and putting on my own fitness competition in Niagara Falls (my hometown) and hope to bring another one to my new city of Edmonton in 2017. I have learned that you can’t keep living like you are going to be here til you are 500, you have to live your life to the fullest now and make your dreams happen.
By Tanya West