By REORG chairman and gym owner Trent Scanlen
Bad times can hit when you least expect it. In my thirties I neglected my health and became overweight – too many corporate dinners and not enough visits to the gym will do that to anyone.
It was the imminent arrival of my son that spurred me to get into shape. I started doing martial arts and lifting weights, and pretty soon the belly was gone and I was feeling pretty good.
But then I started to get persistent back pain. At first I thought it might be a herniated disc or something, but it was much worse. When I had a scan on my lower spine they found a tumour the size of a golf ball.
After a load of tests they told me that I had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A cancer diagnosis is a massive blow, but for me it came with a certain clarity. I put myself in the hands of doctors, but I also set about seeing what I could do to get myself through it.
I developed a kind of steely resolve. I never thought that the cancer would beat me, and so I set about making sure I did everything to keep my mind and body strong.
I wanted to keep training, but during chemotherapy doctors told me I had to avoid people to reduce the risk of picking up a secondary infection, which could prove fatal in my weakened state.
To get around this, I would go to a 24-hour gym in the small hours of the morning so I could train without coming into contact with other people.
Chemo saved my life, but lifting weights and eating well stopped me from wasting away. It also kept my mind strong, knowing that I was doing everything within my power to get better.
When I first met Sam Sheriff and found out about REORG it made total sense to me. The charity encourages military personnel and first responders to make the all-important first step into a gym.
The guys we help have all done incredible work keeping their countries and communities safe. But this can sometimes mean that they neglect their own wellbeing.
This is particularly difficult when they change careers, and can find themselves missing the support of colleagues.
By helping them start training, REORG is offering them the therapy of physical activity, but also introducing them to a new group of like-minded people.
I am not ex-military, and I have never been a first responder. But I am full of awe for everything they do. We owe these guys a great debt, and with all the support REORG has been receiving recently, I know that plenty of people agree.
When I look back on the dark days of my cancer diagnosis, a decade or so ago, I see it as the start of a new chapter. I took a knock, I learned from it, I moved on.
I have seen countless people whose lives have been turned around by martial arts, or by CrossFit. A simple little act of showing up to a gym can change your life. REORG is there to help make it happen.
Trent was speaking to Richard Holt. LISTEN to the full interview here.