Karen is an athlete, coach, and box owner at CrossFit Jääkarhu. She loves to make her athletes feel like a million bucks and motivate everyone around her. After a 7 year Powerlifting career, and some endurance sports (marathons & tris) Karen discovered CrossFit. Since July 2009, Karen has competed in numerous competitions most notably, 5 South Central Regionals and on teams at the 2012 and 2015 CrossFit Games.
On Feb. 5th, 2014 Karen was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The next few months were filled with appointments and opinions. Due to the position of the tumor, she did invetro to preserve her fertility before starting an aggressive chemo, radiation and brachytherapy treatment plan. In Nov. 2014 she stepped back on the competition field thanks to Everyday Warrior’s Battle Series. On Feb. 5, 2015 she had a PET Scan that showed no signs of cancer, allowing her to say she is now in remission.
Things were good. Things were actually really good…so I thought. I was the leanest I had ever been. I was definitely the fittest. I had strong relationships. I was in a good place mentally. A routine pap smear came back abnormal and I was diagnosed with “endocervical adenocarcinoma, at least in situ” (Stage 0 cervical cancer). Four months later I finally found an Oncologist who would accept my insurance, and by that time I had reached Stage 2 Cervical Cancer which meant my ability to carry a child was no longer possible. The position of the golf ball size tumor wouldn’t allow for a clear removal margin with a hysterectomy thus resulting in a chemo, radiation, and brachytherapy treatment plan. The next 2 months were filled with finding 2nd and 3rd opinions, building a team of local doctors, as well as a 14 day In Vitro Fertilization cycle where 10 eggs were removed and 7 were frozen in an effort to preserve my fertility for a future surrogacy option. Soon after that, I began an aggressive treatment plan of chemo, radiation and brachytherapy. While the next few years will be filled with multiple doctor (oncologist, radiologist, and cardiologist) appointments and scans, I am happy to say that I am in remission and cancer free.
Cancer impacts you. Physically and mentally. You question a lot of things. Behaviors change. Lifestyles change. You learn a whole lot. I learned about a level of mental toughness I never knew I had. I learned about acceptance. And I learned a whole lot of anatomy.
When you are healthy and live a healthy lifestyle, things are easier. You see things differently. Challenges are a little less challenging. When life throws you heavy hitters, you approach them in a confident manner.
During my cancer, my mom referred to me as a warrior. Thus I have adopted the arrow as my symbol of choice. An arrow can only be shot by pulling backwards. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means its going to launch you into something great.