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Picking Things Up

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You all may have seen a new face showing up on our Triumph Barbell page a lot recently. Her name is Marilyn and she’s a close friend of Coach Sean. We had a chance to sit down and talk with her recently to learn more of her story. Let me tell you, there is a lot to say about this young lady and her journey.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. Tell me a little about your fitness background.

As a little girl I started gymnastics young, fell in love with the sport and started competing at the age of six. I competed through high school topping out at level nine. Gymnastics was the only sport I had ever attempted and that was fine because in my mind it was the only sport worthy of my time. I loved it so much I started coaching in high school while still competing and have not stopped coaching

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So coming from a gymnastics background what made you decide to venture in the world of weightlifting? What sort of goals do you have with this new passion?

My current goal is to compete at the us open in 2021. Trust me, I’m well aware that this goal, someone with zero weightlifting experience, might be a little too ambitious. But if there is anything people who know me will tell you it’s that I’m always down for a challenge, I hate failing and I have a huge problem with being told I can’t. Like telling me I’m going to die.

Uhhhhhh what now?

Oh yeah let me go into that. Well in May of 2013 at the age of twenty-six I went in for a routine physical to be informed I had a heart murmur. At a follow up visit in June of 2013, for my newly developed murmur, I was horrified when they told me that I only had a third of the blood in my body that was supposed to. I was immediately sent to the emergency room to reconfirm tests and receive blood products. I was released from the hospital fourteen days later with a diagnosis of very severe aplastic anemia, and the knowledge that I would be dead within the year unless I received a bone marrow transplant.

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Holy cow. That had to have been terrifying. Well I’m going to assume you found a transplant donor since you’re still here.

Yes, fortunately my brother was found to be a perfect match donor and I had my bone marrow transplant on August 15 th , 2013. The next two years were hell. Hundreds of pills, numerous side effects, post-transplant complications, three hospital readmissions, nearly dying four times and yet I managed to survive it all. Summer of 2015 I was off all medications and deemed by my doctors to be “normal.”

Well once you got the all clear of being “normal” what do you do? 2 years of your life has been hospital visits and medication, where do you go from there?

I decided to move on and live my life my way. My new goal in life is not to have a particular career, a certain house, or income, it is instead to have as much fun as possible. In the past five years I have gone on countless hiking excursions, multiple river rafting trips, one where I swam a class five rapid (not by choice). I’ve also gone skydiving, hang gliding, caving, watched live pro wrestling and bull riding. During this time I rekindled my love of doing gymnastics and in 2017 decided to enter a gymnastics competition. I forgot how much I loved competition, and this got me thinking that it would be coal to compete in other sports. In spring 2018 I competed in a local dressage competition and to my surprise, I won. I had such a great time learning something new I decided I would expand and investigate other sports to learn and compete. I set my sights on swimming next but hit yet another unfortunate set back.

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Another setback!? You already almost died. Seriously, what more could have happened?

My hip had been bothering me for a while and I finally saw a doctor who informed me that my hip joint was destroyed, and I needed a full hip replacement. Avascular necrosis is what caused the deterioration and I’m fortunate enough to have this not only in my hips but my knees and shoulders as well. This is one of the wonderful side effects of my life saving treatments. In February of 2019 I had my full hip replacement.

Dear God woman. How do you not hold a grudge to life after everything? Has the replacement limited you from doing a lot of things? For example, how does wanting to weight lift work with a fake hip?

It hasn’t limited me as much as you would think. In May of 2019, just 3 months later, I hiked fifty-five miles in five days. Needless to say, I was ready to crush life. I immediately started swim training again and in winter of 2019 I made the decision to try weightlifting. I just started training with Sean and am not sure if my body will allow it, but I am sure as hell going to try. For instance, I squatted 45 kilos a year out from my replacement. There’s hope that this old body will hold out yet

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I’m at a loss for words. You’ve gone through so much in such a short amount of time. It’s pretty incredible that you’re still looking to push your body. I appreciate you taking time to share your story. If life keeps going this route for you we might have to have our next talk through a Ouiji board. Do you have any other words of encouragement or final comments?

Nope. Just a reminder that you promised me lunch for this! I’m just here to have fun and try picking up new things, literally. I’m not special in any way, I’m just stubborn.

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