Advice for Entering Treatment from a Fitness Trainer

[00:00:00] Adam Walker: From Susan G Komen, This is Real Pink, a podcast exploring real stories, struggles, and triumphs related to breast cancer. We’re taking the conversation from the doctor’s office to your living room.

[00:00:17] Starting treatment for breast cancer can be overwhelming and confusing, and you might feel scared or alone. Often, hearing from people who have been diagnosed themselves can help provide a sense of safety and support. Amanda Butler was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at the age of 32. While living a life dedicated to health and fitness as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and on camera trainer for large platforms like Amazon and PopSugar.

[00:00:46] Since her diagnosis, Amanda has been sharing details of her breast cancer journey online to help inspire, support, and provide resources to others who are also going through cancer. She’s joining us today to share some of her wisdom and tangible advice on things that have helped her get through treatment.

[00:01:04] Amanda, welcome to the show. 

[00:01:06] Amanda Butler: Hi, thanks for having me. What an intro. 

[00:01:09] Adam Walker: It’s it’s not often. I get to talk to like like an influencer content creator. This is exciting. I’m looking forward to this conversation. I appreciate you joining us today. 

[00:01:19] Amanda Butler: Yeah. Thanks for having me. I’m also excited to chat with you.

[00:01:22] Adam Walker: Well 

[00:01:22] Let’s start off with your with kind of your story, you know as a fitness trainer, I’m assuming you were healthy. So kind of se did your life look like before and then tell us about th

[00:01:34] Amanda Butler: Yeah, I, so I have been in fitness for eight years now and right Very healthy. I working out all the time. I was the healthiest person I knew because I had been going through health issues actually for four years. 

[00:01:55] Four years prior, I stopped birth control and my body just kind of went haywire. I was gaining weight and I was having gut issues and all of these things that I thought were separate issues that I was trying to get to the bottom of. And I was seeing all of these doctors. And so I really dialed in on everything I was doing. 

[00:02:17] I didn’t touch processed foods. I didn’t touch alcohol. I didn’t touch sugar. And I was really like trying to optimize my health to the highest degree. And so in March of 2022, I actually figured it out. I was finally diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and it took four years to get to that diagnosis, but I was finally starting to feel better and feel like myself again.

[00:02:44] And everything was, Really starting to align in my life. My career was starting to take off and yeah. So when I was diagnosed, I was just like, what me, I literally have been taking care of myself so much. And so it came to as a complete shock because. It didn’t run in my family and I just was like, why is this happening?

[00:03:10] But so yeah, so that was a complete shock to me. And fitness had been my priority for previous, like six or so years. And so it wasn’t that I, It wasn’t the fact that I didn’t know how to take care of my body. So it, it was just, yeah, it was just a 

[00:03:31] complete shock. 

[00:03:31] Adam Walker: And I mean, I think as I mentioned, like you were 32 at the time, right?

[00:03:35] So like, talk about that. I mean that, you know, it’s, it comes, it feels like it’s more surprising at that age, right? I mean, what was that like? 

[00:03:43] Amanda Butler: Yeah. I mean, being 32, you still are very young and I. Was just like, what? Like when the doctor came in and told me that I’m sorry, you have breast cancer, like me, I like literally looked around and I was like, me, and also just not really knowing anyone in my life who had breast cancer. I knew two people, but they were like friends, parents, or, you know, people in my community growing up. And it was never like I had even heard of anyone as young as myself who had been diagnosed. And it wasn’t until I started sharing my journey that I now receive messages every single week of women and Girls who are literally 20 who are now diagnosed at stage four breast cancer.

[00:04:30] So it was just such an an alarming thing to me because I didn’t even think that was a possibility. I thought that this was a cancer that was for women in their later years of their life. 

[00:04:43] Adam Walker: Right. Yeah. So, so I understand that you’ve been, you know, documenting your journey online to help as many people as you can.

[00:04:50] So I’d love to kind of tap into some of that wisdom. So start, let’s start with mindset. Can you walk us through like your mindset regarding your diagnosis and what has been most helpful to you overall? 

[00:05:02] Amanda Butler: Yeah, I would say, you know, over the last few years, prior to even diagnosis, I’ve always been a very spiritual person and I’ve always been someone that tries to see things from a higher lens. 

[00:05:16] And really just focus on what is, what are these situations trying to teach me? And so obviously when I was diagnosed, I was devastated. It’s not like I went into it and I was like, okay, this is like, this is going to be something that’s going to teach me amazing lessons. I was devastated, but I’ve gone through so much in my life.

[00:05:38] Like and I’ve had a lot of really challenging things from such a young age. And so it’s kind of built this resilience in me to kind of take things in stride. And that, those situations really prepared me for breast cancer. And so when I first. was diagnosed, I was like, okay, well, I’ve experienced devastation before I’ve experienced sadness before I’ve experienced, you know, all of these situations.

[00:06:11] So these feelings that I’m feeling now, I felt before and I’ve gotten through before. So you get through this. And then as I started going through the process of. Cancer and what all that looks like. I just changed the narrative. I was like, this is going to be sucky regardless of however my mindset is, but I can choose to say, okay, I’m going to make this worse by, by thinking so negative about my situation and being angry and being sad, or I can, Decide to change this and be like, what is this trying to teach me?

[00:06:49] What are the lessons that I’m going to take from this and how can I help others who are going through this rather than being like so angry as why is this happening to me? 

[00:07:00] Adam Walker: So it’s, I mean, it sounds like there was kind of a shift in perspective, right? Like, I, like, like if I can just repeat back what I think I heard you say is like, this thing is happening.

[00:07:10] You can’t change that it’s happening. What you can change is how you respond to it. Right. And you can utilize it for other things that can be good for other people and even for yourself in certain ways. Right. 

[00:07:22] Amanda Butler: Yeah, exactly. And I think we can do that for everything. I think that this is a lesson for any situation that you go through.

[00:07:28] It’s like, and it’s not to say that this is, Oh, okay. Like take the positive toxicity and be like, okay, like I’m going to be so positive. It’s like, no, feel the emotions through it, but don’t stay there. You’re allowed to move out of it and you’re allowed to grow through it and kind of. Think of like the wind, right?

[00:07:49] You’re moving rather than just being forcing yourself against it. 

[00:07:53] Adam Walker: Yeah, and I like what you said there. You said you’re allowed to move out of it. And it occurs to me that some people probably do that at a different pace than others, right? And so just knowing that you’re free to do that at your pace, I think it could be very encouraging to a lot of people.

[00:08:10] So let’s talk about fitness for a minute. You were, you’re big into fitness. How did your approach to working out change during treatment? Do you have any advice for listeners on how to stay active and why that’s so important? 

[00:08:22] Amanda Butler: Yeah, that’s a loaded question. So Yes it 

[00:08:27] is. 

[00:08:28] I’ll start at the beginning because with fitness, I have had a very interesting relationship with fitness and with food and I think as a lot of millennial women have had is we start off with more of like a punishment mindset of, okay, if I’m going to If I’m going to eat this, then I have to burn this many calories.

[00:08:46] And so when I first started in fitness, that was a lot of my mindset was aesthetics driven was, I want to look this way. I need to control what I eat and how I feel. And as I started maturing, I realized. This is exhausting and I can no longer do this. And I started to shift that mindset into how do these workouts make me feel?

[00:09:09] And I want to move to feel good. So when I was a personal trainer, I started to also communicate this. To my clients and a lot of the beginner clients, but myself, I was never a beginner client. I never was really injured. I never was in a place where being healthy and movement wasn’t familiar to me. So when I got diagnosed, I knew I had to really embody everything that I was coaching and that I was teaching.

[00:09:39] And that this was the moment where, okay, are you going to still really be Aesthetics driven, like, are we completely done with that? Or is this going to be, I need to move to feel good. And so I a hundred percent adopted. I’m going to move to feel strong because I know what cancers and chemo is going to do to me.

[00:09:59] I’m going to feel very weak. I’m going to feel sick. And, but how do I still, how do I still move through that to feel my strongest, most optimal self while also going through treatment? That was my mindset with movement was, okay, if I can supplement this with my treatment to make me have the best outcome ever, that’s how I’m going to utilize fitness in this moment.

[00:10:32] Adam Walker: Yeah. Yeah. It makes a lot of sense. Yeah. Yeah, I love that. So, so, so let’s talk about like it occurs to me that someone going through cancer Has a million different things to focus on and they have endless doctor’s appointments and they’re trying to balance Life and doctors and fitness and health and family and everything else all at the same time. 

[00:10:53] What, like, how are you able to balance that? And what advice would you have related to that? 

[00:11:00] Amanda Butler: Oh gosh. I mean, it is so hard. The beginning stages of diagnosis is the most stressful time of your life because you’re not only having to manage. The emotions of diagnosis. You’re like, wait, I have cancer. And that itself is like a full time job of trying to understand what that means and how it’s going to affect your life.

[00:11:20] But then you’re also responsible for calling insurance and talking to doctors, finding doctors and rushing to do all of this in an ample time where you’re. Cancer doesn’t spread. So it is a full on juggling act. And I would say I to help my anxiety and to anyone else who’s listening to this is to just approach it one thing at a time and really only focus on where your feet are in that moment.

[00:11:47] And then think, okay, what’s my next step? And what’s the next step? Because if you take a step back and you think of, oh my gosh, I have to do this. You’re going to lose it. You’re going to go, you’re going to go bonkers. And I think that’s, again, aside from cancer and in life in general, that’s everything.

[00:12:05] You just kind of have to approach it one thing at a time. And that’s how I juggled everything. 

[00:12:11] Adam Walker: I love the phrase. You’re full of good phrases. I love that. You said the phrase, you have to focus on where your feet are. I kind of love that. Like just be in that moment, focus on that thing.

[00:12:21] Get across that specific finish line and then move on to the next thing. That’s a great way to look at a lot of hectic things in life. So I love that. So, all right. So, so next then. Talk to me about community. How important is it to find like minded people, like minded groups to kind of walk the path with?

[00:12:41] Amanda Butler: It’s everything. It’s everything. When you go through cancer, you, it’s such a lonely, I don’t know what another word is for it, but it’s so lonely. And even when you’re surrounded by people who are supporting you, who are going to doctor’s appointments with you, who are bringing you food and sitting with you, they don’t understand what you’re going through because cancer is such an individual.

[00:13:06] experience. And so it’s really important from the beginning to connect with others who are going through a similar experience so that you have someone to relate to. Otherwise, a lot of times people go inward with cancer. They don’t want to share. They don’t want the sympathy. They don’t want the shame that’s kind of associated with cancer or all of the things that might be in their head that’s preventing them from asking for help.

[00:13:34] And I was the same way. I’ve always been a super strong, independent person, but. One thing that cancer has taught me is to be vulnerable and to ask for help. And the moment I let those guards, that guard down and invited people in was when I felt so loved and seen and supported. And I didn’t feel like I had to carry it all on my own.

[00:13:55] So finding a community, a support group, even if it’s just one friend that you, when you’re having a breakdown and you can reach out to them and be like, this is how I’m feeling and have someone understand exactly what you’re going through. It just changes everything for you during treatment.

[00:14:16] Adam Walker: Now, you mentioned being okay with being vulnerable. So I wonder, like, let’s talk a little bit more about that. So, so who do you lean on for support? And do you have any tips for our listeners that might not be great about asking for help, accepting help, being vulnerable? Talk about that a little bit 

[00:14:34] more.

[00:14:35] Amanda Butler: Yeah I, my friends are like family to me in Los Angeles. My family doesn’t live here. And so I have such a, an amazing circle. And when you’re diagnosed, it’s really crazy, the people who do step up for you. It’s always the people that you don’t expect, the people you barely know that you end up being so close with.

[00:14:56] And a lot of times it’s, The people that were, you were really close with that kind of fall away, unfortunately. And so when all of these people were coming up and they were like, can I bring you food? Can I sit with you during chemo? Can I help you with your cold capping? When I allowed myself to just say yes to those things.

[00:15:17] It’s. Was just a reminder that I didn’t have to be so strong anymore. And I could finally sit back and like really fully let people come in. And if you’re like me and you’re like that, you’re not comfortable being vulnerable. I just encourage yourself to just take one step and just. allow yourself to be uncomfortable and see what happens.

[00:15:40] See what doors open. See what relationships are created because it’s in that little space of vulnerability and discomfort that a lot of magic happens. 

[00:15:52] Adam Walker: Yeah. I mean, I love that idea of embracing moments of discomfort. to get to a better and more fruitful outcome, right? And I think, I mean if you think back, like we that’s like all of childhood is, you know, like your first day of kindergarten is just disco.

[00:16:09] Everything’s discomfort. You have, and you have to embrace it. You have to deal with it. And then great thing. I mean, kindergarten was amazing, right? Not that it’s in any way similar to breast cancer, but I think to your point embracing that discomfort is so important and being willing to do that is so important.

[00:16:24] Amanda Butler: And that’s like everything, right? It’s like, say working out if you’re a beginner and you’ve never worked out and you are stressing your body, it’s like, that’s when the change happens. They always say that about diamonds. It’s like diamonds aren’t created into diamonds unless they’re put under pressure.

[00:16:39] It’s like life in general. 

[00:16:41] Adam Walker: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right, man. So many good quotes. Embrace the discomfort. That’s the next one. Okay. Well this has been, Amanda, this has been fantastic. I love your journey. So, so really two questions for you. One is I’d love for you to just give any final piece of advice that you have for our listeners.

[00:16:58] Maybe something that you wish you could go back and tell your pre treatment self. And then also I’d love for you to just mention how listeners can find you online and, you know, get more of maybe those one liners that you’re riling off here.

[00:17:12] Amanda Butler: I’m like, I’m not trying to sound like a cliche here.

[00:17:14] Adam Walker: No. I mean it in a very complimentary way. I’m very inspired by what you’re sharing. 

[00:17:19] Amanda Butler: Thank 

[00:17:20] you. Yeah. So I just want, if someone is listening to this and they’re just starting their cancer journey, I just want this to be reminded that your unique journey is going to be specific to you. And what I went through when, what someone else went through is their own unique journey.

[00:17:37] And just remind yourself that you’re allowed to feel Exactly how you feel and go through it exactly how you want to go through it because it is your 

[00:17:49] body. It is your life. I will say that there are a lot of things that doctors will not tell you about one. They don’t have time when you’re in the room.

[00:17:59] There’s, they don’t have maybe the experience because every patient is different. And so if you are going through something, don’t be afraid to ask your doctors for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other people for help. There’s one thing that I talk about a lot on my platforms. It is the sexual health side effects of going through cancer and being in medical menopause.

[00:18:26] And there’s so much shame related to that. And so many women suffer in silence when in reality. Millions of people are experiencing the same thing. So if you’re feeling that way, reach out to someone, ask for help, ask for support and don’t suffer alone. 

[00:18:44] Adam Walker: Love that. Don’t suffer alone. That’s another very good piece of advice from you.

[00:18:50] So and how would people find and connect with you online if they were looking to stay in touch or learn more from you? 

[00:18:58] Amanda Butler: My TikTok, Instagram, YouTube handles are all HiAmandaButler, so you can reach out to me there. I’d love to connect with you. I also lead a bi weekly support group called Cancer Bodies, and it’s filled with women all around the world, and So we meet via zoom every two weeks, and I also lead free virtual monthly events with wellness practitioners from all over the world who offer so many different modalities that can help you in your journey.

[00:19:27] So if you’re interested in that, the links are also all tied to my socials. 

[00:19:32] Adam Walker: That’s fantastic. Well, Amanda, thank you so much for joining us on the show today. I look forward to following you and your journey online even more. 

[00:19:40] Amanda Butler: Thank you, Adam. So great to chat with you.

[00:19:48] Adam Walker: Thanks for listening to Real Pink, a weekly podcast by Susan G. Komen. For more episodes, visit realpink. komen. org and for more on breast cancer, visit komen. org. Make sure to check out at Susan G. Komen on social media. I’m your host, Adam. You can find me on Twitter at AJ Walker or on my blog, adamjwalker.

[00:20:05] com. Thanks for listening. 

[00:20:10] .