Brain Cancer Survivor
Beth was beyond fit.
In fact, she made a living pushing herself and her clients to their physical limits as the owner of a CrossFit gym.
But even Beth had to take pause when she said she felt her senses go “out of whack.”
She suddenly started getting a strong sense of “deja vu,” immediately followed by a weird smell or taste.
Whatever she held in her in hands “felt like a marshmallow.” Her vision went fuzzy.
But Beth was used to pushing her body to exhaustion. She was working tirelessly in preparation for a worldwide crossfit competition. In addition, she thought, “Who runs to the doctor for weird things like deja vu?”
But when the symptoms increased and started to interfere with her workouts, she scheduled an appointment with a neurologist who in turn referred her to Moffitt Cancer Center.
Beth was diagnosed with a glioblastoma, or a brain tumor, at age 33.
She immediately thought of the possibility of not being there for her two young children and knew she had to be courageous for them.
“I made a promise to myself to act like myself instead of a person with cancer,” she says. “So I just chose the happy version of myself over the version that was kind of looming there saying, ‘oh, just cry in bed and be depressed.’”
Two weeks later, neurosurgeon Dr. Arnold Etame performed an awake craniotomy, a surgery in which Beth stayed awake, to remove the tumor.
Despite the surgery taking twice as long as anticipated, Beth says she stayed calm. “I know that Moffitt is one of the best so I was in good hands,” she says.
Two weeks after the surgery, Beth was back at CrossFit BNI, the gym she owns with her husband. She had a new workout partner that day: Dr. Etame.
Beth had inspired her surgeon to join the gym. “He had me upside down doing handstand pushups and he said, ‘Go ahead, you’re fine.”
She’s returned to the gym almost every day.
She acknowledges it’s normal to feel helpless and depressed after a cancer diagnosis but she encourages others not to “live in that area.”
“Just enjoy every single day and don’t constantly think, ‘I have cancer,” says Beth. “As long as you make the best of the time that you’re here, then that’s what people are going to remember you by.”