You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and twice as beautiful as you’d ever imagined.
A 2 times cancer thriver from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma — diagnosed at the age of 23 years, Lauren Chiarello was in remission for 6 months. During that time, she ran her first half marathon raising funds for Leukemia + Lymphoma Society in NYC with Team in Training. That weekend, she felt the lump above her collar bone return. She had relapsed and had to go through more chemotherapy, radiation, high dose chemo and a stem cell transplant. She has been in remission for 9 years now!
Since then, she turned fitness from an interest to a passion through teaching others! Up till now, she has run 7 half marathons + 2 full marathons — raising over $75,000 for cancer charities including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center + First Descents. She teaches Core Fusion Barre at exhale + Pilates (machine) + TRX at Flex Studios. She also host several fundraising fitness events throughout the year.
Women Fitness is #CelebratingWomen this International Women’s Day, with a new story of an inspirational woman going out every day. Lets check out the first one of the iron woman Lauren Chiarello.
How did you react when you first found out that you were suffering from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma — at the young age of 23?
Totally sidelined. I led a healthy lifestyle – I exercised regularly + I ate a vegetarian diet. Most importantly, I wanted to live. I felt like there was so much more juice to squeeze out of life.
Going through a life challenge so young empowered me. If I didn’t get sick, I doubt I would have started my business, Chi Chi Life. I learned that each day is extremely precious. I start off my classes by saying, It’s a beautiful day to be alive.
During that time, you also ran your first half marathon raising funds for Leukemia + Lymphoma Society in NYC with Team in Training. How empowering did that make you feel?
I was energized by the camaraderie of the team. Before crossing the finish line the longest distance I ran was 10k (6.2 miles), so taking on 13.1 miles seemed like an enormous feat! I followed a training schedule and recall showing up each Saturday in Central Park for my long runs. We were all different paces. I always felt supported + encouraged by our mentors and coaches. I fell in love with running and accomplishing challenges. Crossing the finish line motivated me to go on to train for the NYC Marathon with Fred’s Team. I fund-raised for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center where I was treated. Along the course, I had the opportunity to run past the place that saved my life – what a true gift.
You then turned fitness from an interest to a passion through teaching others. How has this transformation been?
A true gift. My students have taught me so much. I deeply appreciate the ability for people to come as they are + get stronger, both in the body + mind. My teachers inspired me to become a teacher. My goal as a teacher is to educate, motivate, inspire others to live their best lives. PS, if you’re in NYC, come take class with me!
Tell us about your top 5 fitness tips for cancer patients.
Everyone’s experience is super personal + different. I’ll share what was helpful for me during my 6 weeks of isolation in the hospital.
- Mindfulness: I read motivating quotes / passages + tried to hold a positive mantra in my heart each day.
- Gentle Yoga: The Integrative Medicine Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering offered bedside yoga for free. It felt wonderful to be led by a bright spirit who understood what my body + mind needed.
- Stretching: I spent a ton of time in bed, which led to stiff muscles. I tried to stretch as much as I could to keep my body moving.
- Walking: Once my immune system was ready for it, I was allowed to leave my room to walk laps around my hospital floor. I can’t recall now, but a certain amount of laps equaled a mile – and that was often my goal.
This International Women’s Day, what advice would you like to give to the women out there?
You are a shining star. You have the fire + power within you to make a change in the world. You matter. Be curious. Ask questions. Help others. Believe you can and you will.
For more such real inspiring stories on this Women’s Day, click here.
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