BREAST CANCER 2 BIKINI
Breast Cancer 2 Bikini offers a new road to survivorship through fitness, nutrition, and stepping on stage at a local NPC fitness competition, participating in a bikini division that was especially designed for Breast Cancer survivors.
Nearly a year after being diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer Heather Reimer was done. She finished 8 rounds of dose dense chemotherapy, lost all of her hair, 35lbs and both breasts. She had new breasts surgically created and a new name, “survivor.” Heather survived breast cancer.
For Heather, being a breast cancer survivor was the most amazing feeling, she was brave, strong and most importantly, she was alive! Well, surprisingly that is not what happened and that was not how she felt. Heather has long disliked the label survivor. She says it feels like a final destination when she needed a beginning.
Heather describes life after cancer treatment as depressed, more than depressed. She lost all self-confidence and struggled managing her daily activities and her job. She often says, roadkill might be a good description. When you pass by a dead animal on the road and the animal doesn’t look, smell or act anything like it was when it was alive. Yes, roadkill. Roadkill may seem a bit harsh, but it is the real story.
Heather felt guilty that she wasn’t happier to be done with treatment and to have survived breast cancer. Following about six months of feeling devastated she woke up and decided she needed to do something drastic. That turned into a 15-week fitness journey that landed her on stage at a fitness competition on June 22, 2013. Heather started a personal blog to hold herself accountable to this goal and inspire other women to follow. She called it, Breast Cancer 2 Bikini . She posted her monthly bikini pictures and blogged about how this program was transforming her to a new place after cancer. This event was well outside of her comfort zone. Heather’s journey to the stage gave her back what cancer had taken away and more. She never would have imagined that the training would take her down a mental, physical and emotional path that seemingly paralleled breast cancer treatment. Difficult to communicate, but taking her body back through physical training and mental determination was a gift that can’t come from any doctor or support group. It challenged her mentally and ignited her spirit. It was a gift she had to give and do for herself.
Based on Heather’s experience, Each One. Tell One. launched a program in northern Nevada in 2016 to address this missing piece to the cancer journey. Breast Cancer 2 Bikinioffers a new road to survivorship through a 24-week fitness and nutrition program, stepping on stage at a local NPC fitness competition and participating in a bikini division that was especially designed for Breast Cancer survivors. We could not have predicted a more beautiful, natural bond between the 15-20 participants that grew over 24 weeks. The ladies found their soul sisters in a way we could not have planned for. Each woman empowers the other until they are all healed from the inside out.
To date we have provided this program to nearly 60 women (2019). We commit to helping at least 20 women a year. There is no other program like this in the country. Each and every woman that participates believes that the journey through fitness and nutrition, alongside bonding and supporting each other, was the missing piece in their cancer journey.
Our schedule is intense. We start our journey in late April to coincide with the show start date for a total of 24 weeks. The idea is that the program should be somewhat consuming and focused, similar to the cancer treatment schedule. It requires the participant to choose themselves and commit to the details of the program and in return gain back their health both emotionally and physically. It also offers the chance for each participant to support one another. Like cancer, they know the level of commitment to the program.
The fitness side of the program concludes at the Best of the West Classic NPC Fitness Competition. The producers of the fitness show carve out a special presentation especially designed for our Breast Cancer 2 Bikini participants. We show a video of each participant where they share their story to the stage. We then present each participant individually in their custom-made competition bikini. In the beginning the bikini seems to be the most important piece, but in the end it is literally the smallest piece of this program. Our competitors stand tall and proud to share their journey and new road to survivorship with the crowd. There has yet to be a dry eye in the house during this production.
At the conclusion of the first program year, we recognized that the surgical scars were the only remaining evidence that these women had breast cancer. Their physical bodies were healed and their souls were revived. We wanted to share this with our community. We created a unique Art event called Beyond the Ribbon. We believe that the “Pink Ribbon” marketing provides for care and support before and during the cancer journey but there are not programs that exist to provide the care for the survivor after treatment ends. Breast Cancer 2 Bikini was designed specifically to support and change this missing piece. Beyond the “pink” Ribbon shares the story of the scar, the only evidence of the cancer journey at an art exhibit in a local gallery.
Our partners and contributors have made this program possible. Since inception, most of the Breast Cancer 2 Bikini program has been provided in-kind or through donations. This exemplifies the amazing community we are blessed to be a part.
Our largest Partner is Evoke Fitness. Mena Spodobalski, owner and trainer, has dedicated herself and her training center to provide the fitness and nutrition programming over each program year. Her experience and enormous heart have helped create a safe and loving environment for each of our participants. In 2019 Mena delivered a TedX talk at The University of Nevada Reno to showcase her role in Breast Cancer 2 Bikini (https://tedxuniversityofnevada.org/speakers/mena-spodobalski/). Mena has provided her services at no cost to the participants/program.
Specialty Health provides our before and after advanced labs and biometric analysis. This is unique piece to our program and provides us with evidence that this program improves overall health. These services have been provided at no cost to the participants/program.
Best of the West Classic NPC production; Randy and Julie Green have offered their stage and licensing for our program to exist. There are no other NPC shows in the country that provide this special presentation for cancer survivors. The competitor costs are provided by the production company.
Each of our participants receive a custom-made bikini. Competition bikinis must meet licensing requirements. Our bikini maker, Megan Almansoori, customizes each bikini to fit our competitors perfectly. To show off our bikinis, we are lucky to have Beth John to provide the most amazing show tan. Beth takes special care with our participants so they feel comfortable during the process of the show tan. She spends time with them a week before the show to ready them for the experience. This is the cherry on top and gives our girls the boost they need to strut across the stage. Beth and Megan provides services at no cost to the participants/program.
The complete cost for the Breast Cancer 2 Bikini program per participant is approximately, $4,800. While we do not require contribution by the participants, they have the option of contributing to the program through a donation.
Thank You Sponsors