Beating the Living Daylights out of Cancer

by Dave N.
Dave Neway PhotoWhen I checked myself into City MD for a dull stomach ache last May, I was hardly prepared for the diagnosis that followed: Stage IV Colon Cancer with metastatic spread to the liver.  I had zero family history with the illness, and lacked the mutating gene, so I was pretty much just really unlucky.  And I was 33, so about 17 years too young to be thinking about colonoscopies and the like.  What I quickly learned was that I’d need surgery to remove the tumor in my colon, and because my liver was initially unresectable (due to the location of the metastases), I’d need a special hepatic pump to infuse large doses of chemotherapy locally to my liver.  I was told the odds of my liver becoming resectable were about 20%, so it was difficult for me to be optimistic.
Lo and behold, after 3 months of heavy-duty chemo, during which I dragged myself to the gym 4-5 times a week, despite the extreme exhaustion and post-surgical discomfort, I beat the odds, and my liver responded completely to the chemo regimen: I was ready for the first of two surgeries that would remove all signs of cancer from my liver (and, by extension, my body).  I realized after my second surgery in the fall, however, that my entire abdominal area was severely weakened, and that I needed to take more dramatic action to rehabilitate my core and get my body back into prime condition, not only in preparation for a third and final surgery, but in the interest of thwarting recurrence as well.   Enter Ed Gemdjian.
Ed had been lauded to me by a close friend who trained with Ed for only a short while and achieved tangibly outstanding results.  Upon learning of my situation, Ed reached out to me to begin a training regimen that was specially configured to my needs and restrictions.  Ed and I began working together while I was still in the middle of chemotherapy, but as the chemo knocked me down, Ed’s training helped me bounce right back.  I noticed my body getting stronger, particularly in my core, which had been decimated by my first liver surgery, and muscles I had in my 20s were starting to come back.
My final surgery was meant to be a liver resection, whereby at least 2/3 of my liver was to be removed (don’t worry, it grows back).  Shortly before said surgery was scheduled, my liver surgeon ran some scans and noticed that my liver had responded so well to the chemo that a resection was no longer necessary (instead, they would use radio frequency ablation to just nuke the individual remaining spots, which were already half-calcified anyhow).  Upon opening me up during the third surgery in early 2014, my surgeon noticed abdominal muscles I hadn’t had before, and that I was in the best shape he’d seen me in since I started treatment.  My recovery should’ve been around a week after that surgery because it was quite invasive.  I was instead discharged after 5 days because I bounced back so quickly.  Within 2.5 weeks, I was back at the gym doing cardio 4-5 times a week.
The CT scans that followed this surgery have confirmed that I don’t have any cancer in my body now – a complete 180 from where I was a year ago.  While it’s hard to parse out exactly what elements of my treatment were responsible for what proportion of my success – chemo, acupuncture, healthy diet, etc.- I’m convinced my training with Ed and the Tier 4 trainers at Equinox gave me a HUGE leg up in fighting this disease, and coupled with everything else I was doing, gave me ammunition to kick cancer to the curb with no invitation to return.  I’m not a doctor, so I can’t articulate exactly how my exercise regimen worked in my favor, but I believe that by increasing my metabolism, burning body fat and adding lean muscle through my program with Ed, I created an optimal environment in which the chemotherapy could work.
At the height of my treatment, I was 215 pounds due to the steroids in the chemotherapy which caused substantial weight gain.  I’m now 189 pounds, and leaner, fitter and stronger than I’ve ever been, and I couldn’t have arrived here without Ed.  F**k you, cancer. I won.
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