JUNKIE GRATITUDE: HOW ((305)) HELPED ME KICK THAT TUMOR’S A$$
Junkies are always feeling #blessed and #thankful. Before we speed right to the winter holidays, we're taking the time to pause and hear what y'all are grateful for. ((305))'s community is why we do what we do! Honestly, truly.
After doctors found a tumor squeezed in between her lungs and ribcage, NYC junkie Amara had to undergo an intense AF surgery to remove it. But her ((305)) fam was with her through the whole thing, from the pre-surgery to her recovery. We caught up with Amara to hear her story and how ((305)) helped her kick that tumor’s a$$.
Hey girl heyyy! 👋🏽 We’re so honored that you’re sharing your story with our ((305)) community. To start off, how did you hear about ((305))?
I wanted to get back in shape and needed something that would motivate me and didn’t “feel” like a workout. I was so nervous -- What would people think? Would they stare at me? What if I can’t keep up with the choreography? Sadie taught the very first class I went to. She introduced herself, shook my hand and looked me in the eye and said, “Welcome. I am so glad you came!” Do you know how powerful someone greeting you can be? I instantly became hooked with the music, the lighting, the people (both instructors & junkies), and the positive environment and encouragement I was met with. I realized working out didn’t have to be so hard and can actually be A LOT of fun.
They don’t call us junkies for nothing! So, when did you find out you had the tumor?
I took a class with Sadie and had trouble keeping up which was unusual. I had been coughing for a few weeks and went to the doctor thinking I had bronchitis and BOOM. Bad news rained down everywhere. I was immediately sent for an X-Ray which morphed into an emergency CT scan. They called my husband to meet me at the hospital thinking I had lymphoma. They found a tumor the size of a large orange / small grapefruit nestled between my lungs and rib cage which was prohibiting my lungs from expanding.
What happened after that?
Less than twenty-four hours passed and I had an appointment with a cardiothoracic surgeon who had some ideas about what the tumor was and why I couldn’t breathe. Before moving forward with any treatment plans, they scheduled me for a biopsy a week later to take samples of the tumor and do some more testing. We waited for the results for what seemed like forever. Another doctor’s appointment and the biopsy results confirmed I had a Thymoma Tumor and they believed it was benign. Due to the location and size of the tumor, they needed to operate and remove it and then would re-evaluate my treatment plan.
What was it like leading up to the surgery?
At the time, I thought we were asking a good amount of questions to prepare me for surgery, but I couldn’t remember anything. My mind was so jumbled. I really had no idea what to expect even though they repeatedly explained it to me. Post-surgery I woke up in intense pain and tubes and wires were running everywhere through my body and around my hospital bed. I sobbed. I felt like I didn’t know what happened to me. I knew I was having surgery, but I really had no idea how hard it would be physically, mentally or emotionally. My surgeon explained they opened me up as if I was having open heart surgery w/o them touching my heart.
And the post-surgery?
As the days followed and pain medicine wore off, it all began to settle in. Anything I knew in my previous life, didn’t exist in this new current state. I needed and had to ask for help more than I probably have in my life. I couldn’t walk far, I couldn’t lift anything, sleeping on my side wasn’t an option. Surgery is incredibly humbling. I now have a scar that runs from my collar bone, down the middle of my chest and underneath my left breast. This scar is 16+ inches long and there is no escaping looking at it.
Looking back, how did ((305)) help you get through it all?
Sadie and Maria were some of the first people I remember telling. They were incredibly supportive and checked on me continuously through texts and emails pre & post-surgery -- they even reached out to my husband as well! While I was in the hospital, Sadie sent me old playlists to cheer me up and I would listen to them as I attempted to walk one loop around the hospital hallway. When I was finally able to start working out again about two months later, I slowly began to take classes and the instructors and junkies were cheering me on. If I was in discomfort and pain, they would keep an eye out for me to make sure I was doing okay.
What was the recovery process like?
Heading into surgery, I was in the best shape of of my life thanks to ((305)). I know that helped with my surgery and recovery process, both physically and mentally. ((305)) also helped me with my focus and just thinking about "this moment" instead of projecting and worrying about the next 48 hours. Most importantly, ((305)) has also helped me to embrace this nasty scar and work on my confidence again. The scar is part of me forever -- it won’t define me, it is just a piece of my story.
Were there any in particular ((305)) songs that got you through your surgery?
Four years later and 300+ classes deep, my faves are still Danza Kuduro, We Found Love, The Girl is Mine, Flo Rida and Pitbull. Do you know how sexy AF you can look in a hospital gown, dragging an IV around, unkempt hair and playing Pitbull walking the hospital hallways? 😉
What's your favorite thing about the ((305)) community?
This community is everything. I am overwhelmed by how truly exceptional these people are -- the instructors, DJs, staff, junkies are all warm, loving and supportive. They will be the first to cheer you on, encourage you and scoop you up when you need some support. I am eternally grateful for this place and these people.
Last one! What does "gratitude" mean to you?
Every day I try to write or remember three things I am grateful for. These are the ones that remain on the list daily: family, friends, health and ((305)). I have so much to be thankful for this year -- a body that is healthy, moving again and on the road to recovery!