TESTIMONIAL: CASEY KERRIS
We all have an authenticity and uniqueness that shines when we allow it to and this is how I found my light. Sweat is my 2nd home. I’ve worked at the studio since it opened and am the longest standing instructor. I’ve been active my entire life, but in 2007, my world collapsed under me. Two months after getting engaged, I was diagnosed with colon cancer at 23 years old. A major abdominal surgery involving removing half of my colon followed by 6 months of chemotherapy changed everything from food tolerance, digestion, water intake, body shape, to workouts, nothing I had ever had to “think” about before now. Day to day life became hard…My energy was shot, metabolism nonexistent, and motivation a past thought. My focus was recovery only and living each day as best as I could with the weight of my mortality on my shoulders. My sister introduced me to yoga during my healing with basic breathing and meditation as a way to process the heaviness of a cancer diagnosis. I practiced for a bit and would fall off, then start again, and stop again. Looking back, I don’t think I was ready to really address the depth of what I had been through which yoga inevitably makes you face. In the midst of chemotherapy, I started the Physical Therapy program at U.K. and married my sweet husband in 2009. Between steroids and medications for maintenance, along with the stress of grad school, I gained 45 pounds. I lost weight and toned with Pure Barre and I tried other workouts and found some “success” here and there, but my focus was all wrong; I was worried about the number and not how I was feeling. I finished in 2011 with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree and began working full time. Enter Sweat. I fell in love with Sweat’s workout intensity as soon as it opened and stayed faithful to workouts 4-5 days a week and also taught rowing. I became the “smallest” I had been since my diagnosis about 1 year after Sweat’s opening. Over the course of the next couple years, things shifted back and forth with my health. I herniated a disc in my back, was forcibly inactive, gained weight, came back to Sweat, lost said weight, then a metastasis scare, gained weight out of worry/fear, came back to Sweat, lost weight again. And so on. The roller coaster happened again and again. With chemotherapy and major shifts in digestion since cancer, my metabolism was severely affected and each time I was inactive, my body would change in a way that would cause me to give into fatigue and reduce workouts. It was a cyclic process. Around this time, I decided to go to yoga teacher training at the OM place. I peeled back so many layers of myself and healed mentally and physically through this process. I began teaching yoga in 2014 and became dedicated to teaching and practicing. Around this time, my husband and I “decided” to have a baby. Guess what?! Sometimes you can’t just decide things and life plays along. Life pushed back again. For 2 years I went through fertility treatments and surgeries without success and additional body changes from the treatments.
Survivorship is ironic because people think as soon as the cancer is gone, life goes on. But after tumor removal and treatment, there’s obstacles and hurdles that the survivor does not anticipate and no one can understand. It’s lonely and defeating. Because of the fertility drugs, intangible grief, impaired metabolism, and resultant depression, my body did not feel like my own. Insert the picture on the left from June 2016. I needed a break from everything that was no longer serving me. I promised myself to practice yoga/breathing/meditation 3 times a week, went on a 30 day food cleanse, started treating food as fuel, researched nutrition, increased my Sweat workouts, and decided to have grace. Grace for my story. With food changes, yoga, determination, grace, and Sweat, I became stronger physically and mentally. I learned to appreciate the raw honesty and authenticity of my path, and began relying on my fellow Sweat team and clients to be my silent support and motivation. I stopped hiding myself, started breathing more, shifted my social life to be at Sweat as much as possible, and started living again without fear, rather than with fear of everything.
The picture below was taken 7/2/17. I’m strong, healed, loved, love, and focused and have maintained this version of myself for over a year. I believe yoga, self love, meditation, and Sweat guided me to be here, along with the love of my husband and the support of my family/friends. You can fall, but you HAVE to pick yourself up again and Sweat was always a place I came back to. Sweat is special for so many reasons that are not word worthy. As staff, we love what we do. I am meant to teach yoga and look forward to every class I lead. Sweat allows me a space to practice and to be myself as a teacher and to inspire others. I am grateful beyond words for it’s steadfast and silent loyalty. Sweat is a break from the day to many, myself included, and for the combination of workouts, the support, the fellowship, I am eternally appreciative.
To get through the hardest journey, we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping