As a Zumba instructor, Mary Jo Bellinger prides herself in being able to help people become healthier. Usually, people would come to her in an effort to lose weight and prevent disease. This was why she was in disbelief when her doctor told her that she has breast cancer. Mary Jo led a farily healthy lifestyle. How can she have breast cancer?
The truth of the matter is, breast cancer can happen to anybody. You can be doing everything to help prevent it, but there are also non-modifiable factors such as age and family history to consider. Knowing your risk factors, performing BSE and regular visits to the doctor is very important.
Mary Jo’s diagnosis came after a routine mammogram. Because of her healthy attitude towards her health, the doctors were able to catch the tumor in its early stages. She was immediately scheduled for a lumpectomy last February 20. After he diagnosis, Mary Jo had to undergo a cycle of radiation therapy to help kill any remaining cancer cells.
Unfortunately, cancer treatments take their toll physically and financially. Mary Jo had to stay home for sometime in order to recuperate.
This is the time when her co-workers and friends at Innovative Health and Fitness stepped up. They’ve organized a zumbathon in order to raise money for Mary Jo’s health and living expenses. This is really a touching gesture – friends making sure she had access to healthcare and every day expenses.
Over 70 people attended the fun filled event and raised over $1500 for Mary Jo. Most of us think that we can only help survivors with grand gestures. However, just like the Zumbathon, the simplest things can mean the most.
“I have been so humbled and blessed during this journey by the outpouring of love and support from so many members and staff at Innovative Health & Fitness,” she said. “They have supported me weekly through words of encouragement, prayers, hugs, and acts of kindness. Many other instructors helped cover my classes during my three weeks of medical leave.”
She has been an inspiration to the community and other survivors. She went back to teaching 18 classes a week after just 20 days of medical leave. In fact, she continued to teach classes while undergoing radiation!
Mary Jo is proof that with the help of family and friends, survivors can get their lives back from cancer. She is lucky to have such an amazing and supportive group!
Bellinger is currently done with radiation treatment, but she’ll be going back the first week of June for a radiation skin checkup which will be followed by blood work checkups every four months for the next three to five years. Additionally, she needs surgeon checkups every six months.