iFit Member Highlight: Holly Boeckman
Back in August 2020, we featured several members’ stories in honor of Tommy Rivers Puzey’s fight against cancer. There were so many stories that emerged for #TeamRivs, and we feel grateful for so many who shared their experiences and struggles.
There was one story that touched us in particular, and that’s the story of iFit member Holly Boeckman. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Holly was gracious enough to share details of her journey.
When were you diagnosed?
I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in March of 2020 at the age of 50.
How was the cancer initially detected?
I first found a lump in my armpit. I scheduled a mammogram, then came in for an ultrasound, then a biopsy, then I received the news.
What happened when you received the news?
Having always been extremely active and healthy, I never considered the possibility of cancer. When the doctor came into the room, I saw the serious expression, and her hands were slightly shaking as she held my results paperwork. She didn’t have to say a word. I knew I had cancer. All I could think about was how to support my spouse and tell my family. It was going to devastate all those around me.
What helped you get through the diagnosis and treatment?
Once you have a cancer diagnosis, there is a lot of waiting and wondering. You don’t get all of the answers or a clear treatment plan all at once, and that was especially true while trying to navigate the health system during COVID-19. So, as I’ve always done, I turned to exercise and iFit. While on my bike and treadmill, I was able to think through my diagnosis and burn off a lot of stress. I knew surgery and treatment awaited me, and the best thing for my body and mind was to stay in the best shape possible.
“You learn to appreciate your health and the simple ability to walk without gasping. Everyone is stronger than they realize. You just take it one step at a time.”
What was your treatment process? What obstacles did you face?
I went through a partial mastectomy, followed by 6 weeks of daily radiation. After the mastectomy, I asked my surgeon how soon I could start running again. He said to start slowly and listen to my body. I was overly anxious and ran 7 miles on my treadmill. It probably wasn’t the best idea physically, but mentally it made me feel like I’d still get back to my old self. The radiation was much harder on my body. I permanently lost about 20% of my lung capacity, but at the end of the treatments, a nurse told me that to get my energy back, I’d need to fight for it. I started by getting back on my bike with iFit, eventually working my way back to running.
How are you doing now?
I’m still building back strength and have one more surgery ahead of me, but I’m back to daily exercise and that’s the best elixir for me, both mentally and physically.
What message would you like to share with others that might be in a similar situation?
When you get unexpected, terrifying news of a cancer diagnosis, your whole world changes. When you face your mortality, you truly get back to the basics of life. You learn to appreciate your health and the simple ability to walk without gasping. Everyone is stronger than they realize. You just take it one step at a time.
How long have you been an iFit member?
I’ve been a member for about one year.
What’s your favorite thing about iFit?
It’s a wonderfully supportive community. During this time of COVID-19, it really helped me keep a feeling of connectedness with the trainers and participants. The various series took me around the world and kept me entertained and engaged during each workout.
Who is your favorite trainer?
Tommy Rivs, hands down. He doesn’t know it, but he’s gotten me through a lot of my cancer journey. I think about what he’s going through every time I run with him now.
What’s your favorite series?
Which machine do you own?
How do you stay motivated?
When you go through a time when you’re physically unable to exercise, you definitely appreciate that freedom when it comes back to you. I like to remember that I’ll never regret the workouts I do…only the ones I don’t.