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Everyday Warriors are all around us, some of us may not even know the true battles these warriors wage on a daily basis. Everyday Warrior is so honored to be able to share stories of courage, strength and perseverance and we hope you are able to find some inspiration in reading about our featured warriors.

This week we are privileged to bring you Ellen Hatzi’s story. Ellen is 52, is a classically trained (and now retired) chef, married to her husband Chris and has 4 adult children in their combined family. She is relatively new to CrossFit, joining CrossFit Wilsonville in May of this year. In September 2013 Ellen was diagnosed with metastasized breast cancer. This cancer is not curable; it is treated as a chronic illness. She had major lung surgery in October and received 6 months of chemotherapy. Ellen is currently on a daily drug (tamoxifen) that will hopefully keep the cancer from growing back.

Ellen found CrossFit after being diagnosed with cancer, finding the courage to try something new, something to help her improve her health. “I alternate CrossFit with Bikram yoga. I was always too intimidated to try either one before I was diagnosed; now I look at these workouts as my life force and proof that I am alive and doing well! I did my first Bikram class 6 weeks after my last chemo. I walked into the hot room with my bald head and shriveled, weak body. It was very humbling! It was also the greatest decision I’ve ever made! As my body got stronger, I wanted to add another challenge and that’s when I walked into CrossFit Wilsonville. I’m so happy I did!”

Prior to being diagnosed Ellen faced major lung issues that left her on supplemental oxygen and unable to exercise. Asked about how her thoughts on fitness have changed since being diagnosed, Ellen said, “On January 10th, I hopped on the treadmill and walked for 50 minutes! It felt like a miracle and I have never looked back! I believe that my improved fitness level and muscle strength have given and continue to give me a great quality of life. I previously exercised to look good or lose weight but now I do it to feel great and manage my illness”.

Friends and family were asked to describe Ellen and their responses all centered on Ellen’s warrior spirit. Ellen’s son Tim wrote the following about his mom, “She is the most competitive and strong willed person I’ve ever met. This shines through on not just her mastery of the art of cooking, and raising two crazy kids to be quite alright if you ask me, but in the way she’s dealt with cancer. I’ve never seen a person faced with such a daunting task, as fighting this disease, react the same way. At first it was a shock but when she gained her footing she almost suited up for battle and was ready to do whatever it took to win. Her newfound fearlessness and joy of everything in live is contagious to those close to her. We all can’t help but become inspired and reevaluate our own lives. She is a pure warrior at heart.”

While Ellen might be new to CrossFit, she has embraced the challenge of pushing herself. It reminds her that she is more than cancer. “CrossFit reminds me that I am strong, determined, and capable of greatness! I do it because I can!”

Ellen you are a true inspiration. Your story is one of strength, courage and the warrior spirit. We are truly inspired and hope everyone else is too!