Font Size: A A A

Becoming a 'Warrior': Part 1

04 April, 2022

By Darcy Phillips

“I would not take back what I suffered to gain this.”

~ Suleika Jaouad, Between Two Kingdoms

As difficult as breast cancer was, it brought some wonderful gifts into my life: a renewed sense of putting myself first instead of last, a whole new group of friends I would never have met otherwise, and a bucket list.

On that bucket list? Get into the best shape of my life. I didn’t know how I would do that exactly, just that I needed to. Five years went by, during which the pandemic hit. I made banana bread like everyone else. I went through menopause. I was released from oncology. I was not in the best shape of my life, not by any stretch.

Enter “Evoke Warriors,” a six-month cancer rehab program including fitness, nutrition, fellowship, and a big reveal at the end to our family and friends. I applied and anxiously awaited my interview. I hovered between worrying about whether I would get accepted and worrying about whether I would not get accepted. I knew I needed this, but it also scared me a little.

The program commitment is extensive: five to six days a week of cardio on our own, plus starting with two days a week in class at Evoke Fitness, soon to grow to four days a week.

“It’s pretty much a part-time job,” Evoke Warrior/Evoke Fitness Founder Mena Spodobalski told us during the informational meeting. In addition to exercising, we would be expected to follow a healthy diet, cutting out all processed foods, dairy, sugar, and red meat.

I interviewed with a team of six trainers, nutrition coaches, and past participants. I shared how cancer took me down a rabbit hole of further issues, including frozen shoulder, mild lymphedema, and complex regional pain syndrome -- which rendered my shoulder, arm, and hand useless for nearly a year before I found the right medication to control the horrific pain. I talked about my new job at the Nevada Cancer Coalition and how I hoped to bring a different perspective to my position.

I did not cry, but I admitted I likely would at many points along this journey if I made it through the selection process.

A few days later I received the call that I had been accepted into the program, along with 21 other soon-to-be new friends. We went to orientation on a Saturday morning in March, during which we introduced ourselves, shared our diagnoses, and learned about the program and what would be expected of us.

We took pictures of our “before” bodies, many of us stripping down to sports bras so we could really see everything. We weighed in and did a body analysis. On the table during lunch were pieces of candy and cookies. “Is this a test?” I asked jokingly. I ate a piece. I also had a milkshake that night, the last for a while, if not forever.

Monday morning at 6 a.m. came way too early. That’s for next time, though.

You May Also Like

woman smiling
Podcast: Dental Health for Cancer Patients
  • Health & Wellness
  • survivorship
Our friend Dr.
holding hands
Lifestyle changes can help maintain, restore health after a cancer diagnosis
  • Health & Wellness
The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) released tips on how individuals can restore their health during and after cancer treatment by u
NCC and ThriveNV staff with Gina Billino of Scriaggio with a journal donation.
Journal donation meant to empower, inspire and heal
  • Health & Wellness
More than a year ago—September 2022 to be more precise—Gina Billino reached out to ThriveNV to see if she could make a donation.

I have nothing but good things to say about this organization. Starting with the staff, they are caring, friendly, and very knowledgeable! I immediately felt like they were looking out for the best interest of my sick mother. My main contact was Valerie and she provided me and my mother with all… Read More

Grecia, M., Caregiver, Las Vegas

ThriveNV has been an amazing program to work with! I live in a rural part of Nevada, which means that sometimes resources are difficult to find. Working with ThriveNV and Amy Thompson made all of the difference. They were able to connect us with resources and eased the burden of trying to piece… Read More

Bre T., Caregiver and Community Partner, Rural

I have been extremely impressed with the professionalism, expertise, and supportive resources that ThriveNV has provided to our community. Additionally, having bi-lingual community partners ensures that our patient population is afforded the communication and support they deserve.

Kim D., Community Partner, Southern Nevada

Jorge, I am so grateful for you and your organization, both do so much for our cancer community. You have shown the utmost respect, knowledge and care towards me and my health. You listen, answer all my concerns and are always ready and willing to assist me. You always take the initiative and… Read More

I.A., Ovarian Cancer, Las Vegas

I am very pleased with the assistance and guidance I received from the patient navigator and ThriveNV. I will definitely refer my family and friends to this service.

R.C.G, Breast Cancer
ThriveNV has become a resource of resources for cancer patients and survivors in the state of Nevada. The patient navigators have been incredibly helpful as we share resources to help patients, caregivers, and medical professionals. The addition of bilingual navigators has been an enormous value-… Read More
Natalie S., Survivor and Community Partner

Nevada Cancer Coalition's [ThriveNV program] is the best resource in Nevada for everything cancer. They are so knowledgeable and willing to assist whenever needed. I always say, ‘I wish every state had this program because the care and knowledge you all have is unmatched!' They are experts at… Read More

Nicole, Community Partner / Patient Navigator

With the help of ThriveNV and the Nevada Cancer Coalition, CHA has been able to stay up to date on patient resources, whether it's cancer prevention or cancer treatment this Coalition knows it all. Throughout the years, we have collaborated on cancer prevention projects and patient navigation. I… Read More

Liz, FQHC Cancer Care Coordinator, Community Clinic Partner, Northern Nevada

Working together with ThriveNV, specifically with Amy Thompson, made all the difference when it came to giving our mutual patient the resources and the help he needed to get back to good health. By having the support and input of ThriveNV, I found the necessary tools to pave a clear and easy… Read More

Ivonne, Case Manager, Community Clinic Partner, Northern Nevada