Member Spotlight: Carolyn Gray
We have more than 100 members at DSCF who hail from all over Westchester and Putnam. Our membership is extremely diverse, with people of all ages, backgrounds and athletic abilities. This series spotlights members from across our community.
Member: Carolyn Gray
Lives in: Pleasantville
Occupation: Fundraiser at the Wildlife Conservation Society
You’ll find me at: 6:30 a.m. and evening WODs, Yoga
Nearly 12 years ago, in November 2004, Carolyn was diagnosed with breast cancer. It came as a shock, in part, because she had always been physically active and felt strong — not at all like someone who was sick.
“I remember swimming laps after the biopsy was taken and feeling strong and thinking, ‘I don’t have cancer’ and yet I did,” she recalled. “I continued to work through my treatment but did have to dial back the intensity of my exercise due to my energy level.”
In the years since, Carolyn has continued to swim and run — a few years ago she completed a half marathon — and she also takes a kickboxing class. Last Christmas Carolyn’s husband, Marc Garlasco, convinced her to give DSCF a try. It’s hard to say no when your Christmas gift includes CrossFit shoes and Elements classes!
Can you tell me a bit about your diagnosis and treatment?
I got the call two days before Thanksgiving and went for a lumpectomy that December. During the surgery they determined that the cancer had reached the lymph nodes under my arm so they also had to remove several of those nodes. The subsequent treatment included three months of chemotherapy followed by an intensive radiation treatment for several months.
What’s your prognosis today?
My prognosis is good. It’s been 11 years since I completed treatment. I continue monitoring through annual mammograms and MRIs. The only real regular issue is that I need to be careful of lymphedema in my right arm (the side of the lumpectomy), which is a swelling caused by fewer lymph nodes to drain lymph fluid. This can be caused by constriction of the arm including, as I learned recently, by intense muscle activity such as multiple pull-ups. Because of this I need to modify certain exercises and make sure, for example, that when I get my blood pressure checked they use my left arm.
What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome as you get into a new exercise routine?
My biggest hurdle is my schedule. Since Marc has often been away for extended periods of time due to work, I have had to manage my children, my household, and my very busy work life on my own. … I find that my routine ebbs and flows.
What’s your experience at DSCF been like?
It’s been a positive experience. I was initially a bit intimidated, and maybe I still am a bit by the level of fitness and ability of many of the members. However, it’s such a positive, encouraging environment for all participants at all levels. The instructors are great about pushing me but also working with me where I am and modifying exercises as needed. Our youngest daughter Emily is taking CrossFit Kids so it has become a family affair and it’s nice to feel part of that community.
You’ll be participating in Barbells for Boobs at DSCF this month. That’s exciting!
Any event that raises awareness and resources for breast cancer is great. Since I discovered my cancer myself, I encourage all women to be vigilant about regular exams. Also to appreciate every day with your family. Marc was there for me through my cancer and here we are celebrating 20 years of marriage this month!
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