What it’s like to be reborn
By Vickie Girard

We cancer patients receive a unique gift. Yes, we know what it’s like to come too close to death, but we also know what it’s like to be reborn. I remember vividly the day I stepped outside the hospital -released at last from weeks of undergoing a bone marrow transplant. Oh, if that wonderful rush of the senses could be bottled, it would be worth a thousand times its weight in gold.

It was a beautiful summer day, but beautiful is inadequate. The colors that day were turned up, as if I had been seeing with poor reception before. The scents in the air were almost overpowering. I could smell fresh-cut grass, growing flowers, traffic, food – I could smell the time of day. Morning smells different than evening or midday.

The sounds rushed at me. Voices, no longer filtered or contained by hospital walls, had a different ring outside. I heard a dog bark, a horn honk, a child yell, shoes hitting pavement, and multiple conversations going on all around me. And the feeling- there was a slight breeze and I could feel my skin. It was almost as if the air itself had texture as it touched my face and arms. The sun, it warmed me from the outside in. Even walking felt different than it had in hospital corridors.

Had the world always been like this, this alive? I vowed to always look at life this way, to never forget this moment.

Eight years ago today at 10am, I was hooked up to IV bags with tubes (connected to my heart)  hanging out of my chest.

I was on the tenth floor of the UCLA medical center having just finished my last week of intensive chemotherapy that brought my blood count close to zero. I was there being treated for cancer – stage IV-B. That’s as bad as it gets. There is no stage V…

At 10am the medical team performed a bone marrow/stem cell transplant.

They call it “Day Zero” – the day you are literally “reborn” from a cellular level. They call it your “re-birth” day — and even give you a cake. (I didn’t eat the cake. Too nauseous from the chemotherapy still :) ).

Today is  “Day 2922″ — my “rebirthday”. My reborn cells have turned eight years old.

The five year mark is a big day for cancer survivors, so eight years feels really special.

It’s been quite a journey. I was back exercising about a month after the transplant (I was discharged just over one week after the transplant which at the time was the fastest recovery in UCLA history).

Until the last couple of years I still had a hard time with energy levels — and the struggle back to fitness has been challenging a lot of the time. I’m not complaining though, it is an enormous privilege to be able to even exercise at all after my diagnosis. It can get depressing at times, but only for a second — as the alternative is much worse :)

I’m now aware every day of how amazing life is.

I don’t know why I was given these extra days on this planet. But I can assure you that I recognize each one of them as a gift and I don’t take any of it for granted. And I don’t take any of you for granted who have cared enough to read my writings, or come to my seminars.

As cancer survivor Lance Armstrong says:

“I take nothing for granted now. I only have good days and great days”

I can relate completely. For me, the glass will always be half full from now on. People who have had cancer or other illnesses understand that you don’t have all the time in the world….

Thank you all for joining me on my journey over the last seven years. It had it’s ups and downs and up’s again — and it has been both challenging and grueling at times. But it’s also been amazing.

Thanks again.  Today is a special day for me.



So here we are again…Today marks the 25% point of the year. Sorry – it’s not an April fools joke.

The entire first quarter of 2014 has already passed- we are now three months into 2013.
90 days are gone forever.

Are you on track with those New Years Resolutions? Are you on track with your goals?

If you wanted to lose 20lbs this year – are you down 5lbs already?
If your goal was to do 250 workouts – have you completed 62 ?

It’s amazing how time passes so quickly. If you need a “do-over” then I’m going to give you one.
You can REDO your New Years Resolutions right now and get started all over again.
That’s right – I’m letting you off the hook – but don’t waste a single second.

If your goal is fat loss – start today
If your goal is muscle building – start today
If your goal is (insert anything here) – start TODAY !

25% of this year is gone forever. Will you make changes TODAY or will another 25% pass, then another 25%…..

I meet a lot of people in my job, and get a lot of questions via email. I’ll talk to guys who track every single macronutrient that passes their lips, and have tried just about every program out there. When I ask them how things are going — they’ll tell me that it’s great, or that the program is working well.

However, very few people actually measure and take stock of their efforts. If you are following a plan to lose fat – are you actually losing fat? And I mean at a rate that is acceptable for your efforts? Or are you blindly following a plan that doesn’t work, and essentially ignoring that?

I know where my progress towards my goals stand because I measure it.

When I was in the hospital for a stem cell transplant – the medical team took measurements of temperature, blood pressure and blood samples every 4 hours.

When we implement a marketing campaign at the gym — we track the results. We know for example how many direct mail pieces we send out, the cost of each mailing, how many inquiries we get, how many appointments are made, and how many people join the gym as a result. We know exactly how effective the plan is, and whether the return we are seeing is worth the investment.

We can see that for $X invested, we receive a return of $Y.

We need to know where our membership stands – how many inquiries, how many new members, renewals etc and when our busiest times are – everything is measured and tracked so we can continue to grow and serve our members.

If you remember “SMART” goal setting — one of the keys is ‘M’ – Measurable. Measure your results.

As we enter the second quarter of 2014, it’s time to take stock of your efforts. Has your current return been worth the investment?

Again — 25% of this year is gone forever. Will you make changes TODAY or will another three months pass, then another six — and before you know it — it’s 2015…..

Don’t waste a single second. Start TODAY.

Where will you be at the 50% point – July 1st? That’s 12 weeks away. Will you be 12 weeks leaner – down 12, or even 16lbs of fat?
Will your business demonstrate 12 weeks further growth – will you be 12 weeks closer to your goals?

The time will pass anyway….


If I were to tell you that you were about to get into a fight with the toughest opponent the world has ever faced – how would you prepare?
You’d probably learn some martial arts, do some combat training, get stronger, faster, better conditioned, hire instructors and formulate a strategy to take on the opponent.
But what if I told you that all the kicks, punches and choke holds won’t work against this opponent. It’s invisible. Your instructors can’t help you.
That’s the reality of facing cancer.
I beat cancer. Twice. Most people don’t survive the first time. I have no idea why I was given these extra days on this planet, but I treat them like a gift and will never take them for granted.
Prior to my bone marrow and stem cell transplant I had to undergo a battery of fitness tests. The treatment itself is so brutal, you need a certain level of “conditioning” before they doctors will even consider doing the treatment. They did heart tests, lung capacity tests, and a ton more.
I passed the test and entered the “fight” and won. I didn’t think much of it until after being in remission I met a young girl who was facing the same transplant situation. She said ” Oh wow! You got the transplant – that’s amazing!”
I have to admit that I didn’t feel that amazing.
She went on “I need to get one but I can’t pass the tests right now – I’m not in good enough shape to survive the procedure right now”
That’s when I realized the horror of her situation. She, while fighting cancer, needed to improve her fitness, so that they could win. How does a cancer patient get in shape when they are bombarded with a malignant disease, chemotherapy, drugs and radiation? It’s an uphill battle for everyone, but cancer patients are starting well behind the starting blocks.
I knew then that I had survived in part because when the disease hit me, I was in condition. I was strong. I had muscle. I had cardio fitness. I had gritted my teeth and grinded out a heavy last rep, or a max effort sprint.
My body could handle whatever the doctors were going to throw at me. Cancer couldn’t.
Because cancer didn’t train the way we train.
I started weight training to improve my martial arts competition skills. Who knew that the lessons learned in the ring, and the qualities developed under the bar would save my life.
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