Every now and then someone or something comes along with a lesson in perspective.
One morning at work I gave an induction to a forty-something woman with a wonderful smile and a funky haircut. While she completed the health questionnaire I was busy writing her a generic training plan. It seemed pretty straightforward. Leg press, squats, pull-downs. We chatted idly about the weather. She said that she wanted to be fitter and stronger. The standard response from everyone who enters in the gym.
But not so obvious for her as I would soon find out. Her questionnaire told me that she had brain cancer. At first I didn’t know how to respond to this information but I decided that I would treat her like any other person. Her grip, range of motion and balance issues caused by the tumour meant that she couldn’t use the training program I had written for her.
She seemed like a sociable person so I suggested she try some aqua and deep water running classes. I thought the outdoor activity surrounded by a positive community would be a tonic for what must have been an emotional rollercoaster. The water would allow her freedom of movement and, best of all, some badly needed fun.
During her first class I could see from the dazzling smile in the pool she that she enjoyed every bit of it. She beamed afterwards and would go on to participate in both the deep water running and aqua classes on a regular basis. She clearly enjoyed the contact with community and the chance to feel normal again. She was inspirational in her positivity and she embraced every moment. I was glad that through the health community I could play a teeny part in her physical and emotional healing.
I heard today that she passed away in early September. I will alway remember her smile and the life force that came out of her after her first class in the pool. She has made me think about the times I haven’t appreciated my own good health, when I have demanded things from my body and never thanked it for keeping me strong and healthy. Or the times when I have focussed too hard on the goal and not on the process or been churlish about the state of my knees. She reminds us that there is always someone who would seize with both hands the simple gift of fitness heaven.
Donna, it was a pleasure. I wish you a place where the bubbles are plentiful and the music never stops.