For Elizabeth Thompson, her fitness journey means more to her than shedding a few pounds of fat. It is the gateway to mental and emotional resilience. The habit helped her defeat cancer. Thompson was diagnosed with cancer on Nov 25, 2015 on Thanksgiving Day. “It was surreal to hear the words from my surgeon,” Thompson said. Deemed treatable, her doctor sent her to MD Anderson in Houston, Texas. As she embraced her family she decided she would fight.
“I initially felt fear and was frozen on the spot,” Thompson shared. The shocking news that would propel so many into a state of self-pity only fueled her determination. She set her mind in the direction she wanted her life to go. According to Thompson, that direction was not the loss of her life. “I didn’t know what the future held, but I had that moment. Cancer was not going to spoil my Thanksgiving. I’m generally an optimistic, positive, and stubborn person. I am very competitive, especially with myself. Little did I know these traits would help me face the painful and difficult journey ahead of me,” Thompson said with conviction. She chose her thoughts and she chose gratitude.
According to award-winning neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf, “Neuroplasticity is a new scientific discovery proving that we can literally change our brains through our thoughts and choices. We can physically create new neural pathways and destroy old ones. We can wire out toxic beliefs, experiences, thinking patterns, and diseases. We can wire in truths, good habits, and outstanding thinking patterns that lead to different results.” Defeating cancer was her challenge. “Winning turned into a game I wanted to win” she explained with enthusiasm. Instead of waiting around for the cure she joined Tulsa Community Colleges Southeast fitness center in August 2016. Only one month into post-treatment. It was not easy. It was challenging in every way possible: emotionally, mentally, and physically. She persisted and developed a lifestyle that would support her hope, not destroy it.
“From the beginning, I was determined that cancer would not steal my joy. Throughout my treatment, which began with a 14-hour long surgery, and ended with 7 1/2 weeks of radiation, I kept a vision in my head of being a survivor. I was weak and could barely catch my breath, but I kept pushing myself daily. I would walk and use the stationery bike, and then collapse at home from exhaustion. Then I would go back the following day and repeat the same thing,” Thompson explained.
She developed a habit that was in alignment with what she wanted out of life. She wanted progress, not defeat. Genetic predisposition is inevitable. However, modern science proves that it is possible to modify this predisposition by lifestyle and epigenetics. According to the National Library of Medicine, “Epigenetics is a new scientific discovery that proves we can change our genetic expression. Our thoughts and lifestyle control how our genes express themselves. Even if you have a ‘bad’ gene or predisposition for something, your choices determine if that gene is expressed or not.”
“I have always enjoyed exercising, so I knew that it had to be a big part of my recovery. My doctors have been amazed at the progress I’ve made, and I continue to share with them, the wonders of exercise, both pre-treatment and post treatment,” Thompson stated. Could the secret of healing and restoration be found beyond the medications we take? How much power do our thoughts and minds have in liberation and healing? How much of our progress is our responsibility? “I slowly began to notice that I could walk a little faster each week.” At this point, Thompson was finally free from medication. Her appetite, strength, and vitality drastically improved. She has long kept her habits since, implementing them daily. Eventually her ultrasound showed no evidence of the disease.
“Someone asked me what keeps me young and excited about life. I think it has a lot to do with traveling and my constant quest for knowledge. I cannot imagine a time when I could ever stop learning.” Thompson states. What does Thompson believe? Exercise played a huge part in her recovery but so did her belief in healing. She never allowed a test to render her powerless. According to her doctors, there was no other explanation for her healing. Today, she is stronger than ever. After finishing her Bachelor’s at University of Tulsa in Spanish and anthropology, Thompson attended TCC and completed two associate degrees and two certifications. She is back to brush up on her French and oil painting skills. She is a volunteer at Oklahoma Cancer Specialists Research institution where she instills hope in patients fighting their own battles.
Her latest CT scan and ultrasound came back with no evidence of disease. Not one trace. She is nearly three years cancer free. She plans to live with strength and excitement as she inspires others to do the same.