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Rachel Cosgrove: Cancer can happen to anyone

Results Fitness

Posted: September 16, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 16, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Participants of the Results Fitness Team in Training for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will raise funds for cancer research by running in the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco this October.

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“Your husband has cancer.”

This was what the doctor said to me in the waiting room right after my husband, Alwyn, had gone in for surgery for what they thought was a harmless lipoma (a common benign growth).

“What do you mean? How can that be? Cancer?” I asked.

That moment changed our lives, seven years ago, in 2004, when my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkins lymphoma.

To give you some background, we are in the fitness industry, own a successful gym in the Santa Clarita Valley, don’t smoke, don’t eat fast food, exercise and eat our vegetables. Alwyn was only 32 years old. How could this be? Cancer? Us?

Lesson: It can happen to anyone.

Alwyn went through six months of grueling chemotherapy. Within a year, the cancer had come back aggressively to stage 4 a second time, and he was admitted to UCLA for a stem-cell transplant.

This past summer, we celebrated five years of complete remission.

Shortly after Alwyn was diagnosed the first time, as I was searching for a way to make a difference, I found Team in Training and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is on a mission to end all blood cancers, which include leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

It funds blood-cancer research projects that offer the best chance of accelerating development of new, promising treatment therapies.

Already, some of the research it has funded has lead to saving lives. According to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society statistics, survival rates for many have doubled or tripled and, in some cases, quadrupled.

It is startling that more than 1 million North Americans are fighting blood cancers, which is the third leading cause of cancer death.

Every four minutes, someone in North America is diagnosed with a blood cancer. Every 10 minutes, someone dies.
In fact, on Sept. 11, Andy Whitfield, star of the TV show “Spartacus,” lost his battle with lymphoma at the age of 39.

Whitfield was in fantastic shape, known for taking his shirt off and looking amazing on the show. Again, it can happen to anyone.

(Coincidently, we at Results Fitness wrote the Spartacus Workout for Men’s Health magazine. As a tribute to Whitfield and to continue the quest for a cure, Results Fitness is holding a special Spartacus workout open to anyone to participate this Saturday at 1 p.m. A suggested donation of $5 is asked for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in honor of Andy Whitfield.)

This year, Results Fitness has formed a running team to train to complete the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco in October and the Santa Clarita 5K and Half Marathon.

The team is made up of 35 people from the Santa Clarita Valley.

All of the profits from this running team are being sent to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Team member Millie Hensley decided to join the group shortly after finding out that her 12-year-old niece Sophie was diagnosed with cancer. Sophie was diagnosed with stage 3 Burkitt’s lymphoma in late July, and is undergoing chemotherapy in Boston at Children’s Hospital.

We have adopted Sophie as our honorary teammate, and we are training for the race with her as our inspiration.
Sophie’s mom sent an email: “The good news is that she’s responding extremely well to chemo. Sophie’s a sunny, gorgeous, 12-year-old kid, optimistic and realistic. We’re in the fifth week of treatment since the diagnosis, and she’s already home for a few days before she goes back to the hospital. Sophie’s numbers are all great and improving.

“She’s getting stronger every day, which means that she can restart chemo tomorrow. That’s approximately one week in the hospital again. We can so handle that,” she continued.

As a team, we have sent Sophie a video, letting her know she is inspiring all of us every step we take as we train for these events.

Sophie recently took time to send us a video back, letting us know that she is doing OK, and she’s excited to be done with her treatment by Halloween.

Her strong fighting spirit inspires us.

It’s certainly inspired Hensley, who shared, “Sophie, at such a young age, is dealing with something that most people, even at my age, cannot deal with head-on. Her courage gives me hope and inspiration. Watching 3 deal with this from miles away has taught me grace, patience and strength in the face of adversity.”

Though she’s not a runner, Hensley has decided to do her best.

“Because of Sophie, I’ve been inspired to dig deep and push through the discomfort and pain until I reach my goal just like she is — one step at a time.”

Rachel Cosgrove is the author of “The Female BodyBreakthrough” and co-owner of Results Fitness.

September is leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma awareness month.

To donate to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, visit or come join us for the Andy Whitfield workout at 1 p.m., Saturday, at Results Fitness, 24420 Walnut St., Newhall.

The suggested donation is $5, which will be donated entirely to fight these diseases. Everyone is welcome.

For more information, visit


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