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Flatiron Hot! News | January 17, 2018

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Saxon/Hart Raises Money for Beloved NYC CrossFit Trainer Stricken With Cancer

Saxon/Hart Raises Money for Beloved NYC CrossFit Trainer Stricken With Cancer
Eric Shapiro

October may officially be Breast Cancer Awareness month, but it also provides us with the opportunity to combat other forms of cancer that are not as well known but can be just as devastating. Saxon/Hart, a unique, inspirational cause marketing firm that reinvests its net profits into direct impact, giving forward initiatives, has done just that. In an event organized in partnership with Dane Professional Consulting Group and Stonehenge Partners, Saxon/Hart and its founder, Heidi Burkhart, set out to raise awareness of colorectal cancer. At the center of this #blankcancer campaign (fill in the blank with a verb of your choice before the word cancer) was Will Lanier, a beloved instructor at Brick Crossfit, located at 257 West 17th Street. Saxon/Hart’s event consisted of two days of classes, in which attendees were invited to make donations to fund Will’s steep medical expenses. For more details on the event as a whole, check out our previous coverage. In the meantime, here’s our conversation with Will Lanier about the challenges of living with colorectal cancer.

FH: How does it feel having all these people mobilize to help you?

WL: It’s so humbling. Never did I think it would be as big as it’s become so quickly. We rallied my gym together and all our friends. Now we have people in California and Nashville and all over the country.

FH: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced?

WL: Dealing with all the things that my body is now going through. They take out parts of your body. Adapting to change and trying to live like before.

FH: What’s your attitude as you deal with such adversity?

WL: I kind of take every day as it comes and I don’t dwell on anything. I’ve been saying a mantra to myself: life is only as hard as you make it. I wake up and approach my day with the mentality that everything that’s coming to me is great and good and positive instead of falling into a puddle of tears.

FH: Has it been difficult to modify your workout routine?

WL: Emotionally it’s been killing me. I do CrossFit, so we do heavy weights. I haven’t been able to do any of that. I’m not allowed to lift more than 10 pounds. I’ve been running more and doing body weights. Which is great, because I can actually do something. But I haven’t had what I consider a real workout since July 30th. But I’m happy I can do what I do. I have this apparatus called a stealth belt that supports all the medical equipment so I can run and be active. Things have changed, but I haven’t let them deter me from finding a way to work out.

FH: What did you learn about yourself?

WL: I’m more mentally strong than I thought I was. I’ve met a lot of really great people and I’ve grown in confidence in having to deal with all this. I’ve noticed that I’ve got to be proactive about my life more than I was, letting it pass by.

FH: If you had to tell people one thing about colorectal cancer, what would it be?

WL: Getting your colon checked is a bigger deal than other cancer screenings, but you have to do it. What I’ve learned from my research is that if you’re having any sort of issue, go to the doctor immediately. It could be a passing issue or it could be something more. Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about bowel issues. It’s awkward to bring up, “I have to go to the bathroom all the time.” I would say to people: don’t just think it’s a passing symptom if it’s lasting more than a couple of days. You’ve gotta get it checked–30 is the new 50.

FH: What are some of the risk factors?

WL: They don’t know exactly what causes it in younger patients. It’s a blend of environment, stress, genetics and diet. They’re doing this thing called precision medicine where they’re taking tissue samples and running genetic tests on it and figuring out the genetic causes based on my symptoms.

FH: What is the prognosis?

If you catch it early, there’s a 98 percent success rate. I caught it early. The problem is that people aren’t going to get checked when they have something, and by the time it’s caught it’s in stage four or five.