For three Flywheel instructors the power of that pink ribbon extends far beyond breast cancer awareness month. Read on for their incredibly inspiring stories of early detection, strength, family, and how the Flywheel community helped them be unstoppable in their fight.
1. How did you get started as a Flywheel instructor?
Jena Karp, Flywheel Millburn: Seven years ago, I was approached by Flywheel and was immediately excited to join the team! It has been an awesome seven years!
Candee McAloon, Flywheel Millburn: In 2010 I heard so much about Flywheel. At the time I was teaching at a gym in New Jersey, but I had to see what the buzz was all about. I took a Flywheel class and was immediately hooked. The energy, instructors, bikes…. everything made me want to teach at Flywheel.
2. October is breast cancer awareness month. Why does this hit close to home?
Jena: Every month, including breast cancer awareness month, is important. As a two-time breast cancer survivor, I truly believe that the power of a positive attitude carries us forward. Even in what seems to be your darkest hours, it’s important to make the most of every moment and remember to find the light.
Candee: My grandmother, mom, aunt and I have all had breast cancer. I’ve been diagnosed twice, and the second time I was diagnosed, I received the dreaded phone call the day of the grand opening of the Millburn studio. I had worked so hard training to get ready for the big day, but I didn’t let a little cancer stop me! I have been through a mastectomy, lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. All women (and men) need to get checked. I also worry about my two children and hope that maybe one day there will be a cure.
Alicia Miller, Flywheel Seattle: My mom, who always went for regular mammograms, is an early detection success story. She was terrified but remained hopeful and positive through her treatments! Reaching out to her church community and relying on friends and family helped her stay committed to fighting.
3. What’s your one bit of advice about health, wellness and breast cancer detection?
Jena: We all need to be proactive when it comes to our health. We’re only given one body and we need to take care of it. Get tested. Get mammograms. Early detection can save your life. It saved mine—twice!
Candee: The community is amazing. I have had six breast surgeries and they have helped and supported me through every one. My riders are the reason I woke up to teach my classes through chemo, radiation and everything that goes with it. No matter how sick I felt or how tired I was, I had to teach at 5:45 AM with no excuses. It helped me feel normal, and I liked motivating my classes to push harder. “I can do this on chemo!” I had to get on that bike and teach a killer class.
Alicia: Breast cancer awareness empowers us to fight harder against the disease that claims so very many lives that could have been saved through early detection. Knowledge is power. Spreading that knowledge saves lives!
4. How has being a Flywheel instructor enabled you to help those around you?
Jena: Over the past six years I’ve had the privilege of knowing and supporting some of the most amazing people, both on and off the bike. I’ve been fortunate enough to help those who are newly diagnosed. I’ve used my role as an instructor to advocate for breast cancer awareness. Words cannot express how much gratitude I have for my FLY Fam. They are the most amazing people and they inspire me every day!
Alicia: I’ll put it this way: four years ago there was a ride at Flywheel supporting Breast Cancer Awareness and a friend of mine had lost someone with which she grown up to breast cancer that very morning. She knew that Flywheel was the only place she wanted to be that day, among those lifting her up. Flywheel has the power to make you feel loved when you feel alone!
5. What lessons can riders apply from the studio to their everyday lives?
Jena: I beat cancer; cancer did not beat me. I now choose to live life not as an obligation, but rather as a privilege and I take full advantage of every day. Happiness, strength and determination is how I ride, how I choose to live my life, and it’s how I hope my riders choose to live theirs too.
Candee: All the Flywheel instructors have a connection with their riders. I encourage my riders to push a little more, get out of their comfort zone, and never give up. When riders leave my class they are exhausted and sweaty, but they walk out with their heads up high and ready to start their day. We are all stronger than we think and sometimes we are scared to take that extra step. It is good to be scared because when we take on those fears and overcome, the sense of accomplishment is unbelievably satisfying.
Alicia: Surround yourself with positive people in the face of any difficult situation. There are also so many people who have gone through what you or your loved one have experienced. The community of survivors, fighters, and families of those affected is huge. Use the resources available to you if you’re struggling mentally or emotionally. Flywheel can be therapy in tough times but it can also reinforce things you already love about yourself, such as your love of community and loud music!