REAL RESULTS member and REAL 90 alum Veronica Alvarado came to me with the idea of writing a post about one of our own at REAL RESULTS Fitness, Jessica Povey, and the assault cancer launched on her everyday life. We are a family at REAL RESULTS so Bryan Nelson, Paul Rosenberg and I kept close tabs on Jessica to help her maintain her physical strength and to be an additional support system. We never would have guessed this STRONG woman was going through a mental attack. The power that Jessica found within herself to push through this unforgiving disease is something we are honored she shared with our REAL RESULTS family. – Coach Francis Hoare
“Find joy in the moments you are feeling good because that is where you will draw your strength from to continue in the moments you want to give up.” – Jessica Povey
When you think the struggle is real with the everyday run-around and trying to fit a workout in, you receive a call from your doctor. Cancer. One call and your struggle evolves into a monster. This happened to one of our own at REAL RESULTS Fitness, Jessica Povey.
Jessica started working out at the REAL RESULTS after being introduced to the obstacle course training events by friends. Obstacle training turned into workouts and then a routine where she took classes a few times each week.
So how does the young and seemingly healthy Jessica end up receiving a life-changing phone call like that?
Jessica shares, “I didn’t realize anything was wrong. I was having bloating, fatigue, pelvic pain, cramping and nausea and blamed it on my recent move to Las Vegas. After a thorough discussion with my doctor over my history of ovarian cyst and an ovarian tumor, we decided to do a CT scan of my abdomen and pelvis, which showed a mass near my right ovary. I spiraled into a week of scheduling, biopsy, waiting and worrying. Much to my disappointment my diagnosis was Germ Cell Carcinoma of my right ovary.”
Jessica’s reality became an emotional rollercoaster overnight.
“Despite the shock of the diagnosis I was not overly surprised,” said Jessica. “I had been diagnosed previously with this type of cancer and had been through radiation treatment with great success. Unfortunately it had returned to the other ovary. I was trying to find the strength to go through everything again. I struggled to figure out why this was happening to me not once, but twice. ‘Why me?’ I had to accept that it wasn’t going away on its own and if I was going to have the life I wanted – more time with my husband and family, getting to have children, getting to travel, getting to grow old – I would have to fight again and this time even harder than before.”
Instead of playing victim, Jessica focused on the actions she needed to take. Jessica went through the processes of deciding which treatment was the best course of action, preparing for treatment and dealing with the physical marks that were going to be tattooed from her neck down to her stomach and hips.
Jessica relives the moment and explains, “I was devastated at first. It took me a very long time to get over THESE permanent marks labeling me; marks others couldn’t see, but were apparent to me. Now I wear them as a badge of honor and courage, showing that I am stronger than the disease. I was hoping my hair wouldn’t fall out, but after the first cycle of chemo I started losing bigger and bigger patches of hair, eyebrows and lashes. It became too difficult to hide. My husband shaved my head in our bathroom and was my rock for the whole ordeal. I struggled with losing such a big part of my identity and a part of me that I felt made me feminine. It took me a good month or so to adjust and accept my new body and by that time, I had begun having the standard symptoms that came along with treatment.”
At this point it would have been understandable if Jessica had made the call to let the REAL RESULTS coaches know what was going on and that she wasn’t coming back; but this is where Jessica shocked us all.
“During the first portion of treatment, I was still working out at REAL RESULTS. The team of coaches and staff were extremely supportive. They helped me to adjust the workouts to be functional for me. Coaches Francis, Bryan and Paul were with me every step of the way giving me support and encouragement and never once letting me give up. But after about a month and a half of radiation and chemo I was no longer able to work out, my body could not tolerate treatment, daily life and exercise.”
“The REAL RESULTS team still stood by me even when I wasn’t coming in regularly. They checked in on me and made sure I was doing as well as possible. It was very difficult to lose that part of my life. I have always been an athlete. I struggled to find the mental and emotional strength to go on from day to day. Most days I went between being extremely sick and being so fatigued that getting from the bedroom to the couch was an accomplishment. Although the physical toll on me was huge, the mental and emotional toll was even larger. I struggled to find the strength to keep my emotions in check, to stay positive, to focus on the end goal and not just on how I was feeling in the moment.”
“My support system of my husband, friends, family and our workplaces were the reason that I could overcome the depression of fighting cancer.”
Finally, in November 2015 while they were racing trucks with her husband’s work, Menzies Motorsports, they received the results that Jessica was No Evidence of Disease (NED)! It was a huge relief for her after a year of treatment and struggle. Her husband announced the good news to their team, family and friends. Recovery would most likely take a year or more as Jessica’s treatment had been very aggressive.
When the time came to ease into a fitness routine, Coach Francis created a plan that met Jessica’s needs and could be adjusted to what her body could actually do on any given day. Jessica states, “I am still working on that plan and slowly, but surely getting back to where I was before being diagnosed. I don’t feel 100% yet, but I am closer than ever and some days are easier than others.”
When we asked Jessica what advice she would give others who find themselves in a position where their health has been compromised, she shared, “I would take it one day at a time, set small goals and they don’t need to be fitness goals. Over the entire journey I found strength I never thought I had.”
“For me, it was mostly mental and emotional as I knew that the physical would return over time. There is no easy way to get through cancer treatment. It is a fight unlike any other. This fight takes everything that not just you have, but also those who are fighting along with you as your support system.”
Jessica explains, “I struggled with accepting help from friends and family, but in the end, it made a huge difference. It will relieve the stress off both you and your family and allow you to focus on healing and not on the random little things that pile up. When you can return to activity, take it slow. I learned this the ‘hard way’, and pushed too hard several times and was put back on restrictions by my doctor. Use your resources, talk to the REAL RESULTS coaches since they are there to help you. Don’t focus on your losses; focus on beating your illness and returning to a fit and healthy lifestyle. Have patience.”
Jessica’s motto on life gives here strength and is even tattooed on her body so she never forgets: “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only thing you have left.”