Q&A with member Sarah Happy

Sarah Happy with Sporting Club Trainer Cyrena Paulin

How has fitness played an important role in your life?

Fitness has helped me recover from illness, and feel strong and healthy again. I’ve been sick most of my adult life. At 22 years old I was diagnosed with lymphoma. It took six months of chemotherapy and two months of radiation, but I was cured. Two years later, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. That was gone after two more surgeries. Then, in April of 2016 I had brain surgery to remove a non-cancerous tumor. I live with chronic pain and fatigue from my cancer treatment. After my brain surgery, I became very weak and gained a lot of weight. 

I started working with a trainer at The Sporting Club, Cyrena, as part of my recovery. Initially, my goal was to build strength and lose weight for my wedding. However, as I got stronger, my goals changed. I started running, which came with the realization I was strong enough to run.  So I went ahead and signed up for my first race. Of course, my initial goal was to run a 10K, but instead I decided to go all-out and run my first half-marathon. Last weekend, I ran the Rock N Roll 5K and the Rock N Roll Half Marathon for the American Association for Cancer Research.

Working with Cyrena has helped me feel confident and strong again. I have less pain and more energy. I’ve realized sometimes I can do amazing things. 

What truly inspires you?

I am inspired by other people who live with illness or disability. I have met a lot of people in hospital waiting rooms over the years, and made friends during radiation and chemo. I think about these people often. I am very lucky to be healthy after two cancer diagnoses. Thinking about the people I’ve met over the years, and the stories that they shared with me, inspires me to work hard to build a happy life.  

What would you say is your life mantra?

I’ve been told many, many times over the years that everything happens for a reason. I actually don’t believe that. What I do believe is that everyone has the ability to choose to make something good happen, even out of really awful circumstances. Through everything I’ve been through I have tried to remain positive and make something good come out of some really difficult experiences. For example, I recently started working as an Ambassador for the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), which is an amazing organization that helps to fund life-saving cancer research. Through AACR I’ve been able to share my story with others who are going through cancer treatment or trying to navigate life post-treatment.

What else would you like others to know? 

I want all the runners at The Sporting Club to know about the AACR Runners for Research Team. Runners for Research participate in races across the country, and use these raises to raise money for cancer research. I was part of the team for the Rock N Roll Half Marathon and it was amazing to meet other people who were running to honor family members, or celebrate their own survival! Everyone is touched by cancer, and the Runners for Research Team allows you to celebrate those people, raise money for cancer research and participate in fun events across the country! 

Learn more about Sarah’s story from a feature recently aired on WPVI-Channel 6

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