Life With a 20kg Vest
At 6:00 a.m. the alarm goes off. But before even making a fresh pot of coffee, you head over to your bedside table to put on your 20kg vest.
Wait, a 20k weight vest? Yeah, it’s part of your routine. You wear it to work, to the grocery store, to the gym (Yes, Murph X every day), even to La Loma for date night. This is exactly what Zac Bradley of Penrith, Cumbria, UK is about to do. For the entire month of June, a 20kg weight vest will become his exterior shell for at least 12 hours a day. It will be his declaration of freedom.
In August of 2011, just six weeks after Zac had graduated from university, he sat in the waiting room at Cumberland Infirmary, stunned. He had just learned that he was diagnosed with a form of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. In the last year, he had stopped training to focus on his dissertation for university, when his right knee started to swell and become sore. Though at first his doctor called it tendonitis, a few months later Zac needed a walking stick and help to sit down/stand up. Only now he learned that it was the cancer that was causing an autoimmune disorder called sarcoidosis that was affecting his legs.
On the outside he was a 22 year old guy who served as a Wilderness leader and loved all things fitness. But on the inside, his body was fighting cancer.
“This diagnosis came as a shock…prior to this I was very fit and spent most of my time in adventure sports. Being ill and down to 58kg (I am 6 ft. and normally around 100kg) that all came to an end. I found that being weak was one of the hardest parts of illness and treatment.” — Zac Bradley
“This diagnosis came as a shock…prior to this I was very fit and spent most of my time in adventure sports. Being ill and down to 58kg (I am 6 ft. and normally around 100kg) that all came to an end. I found that being weak was one of the hardest parts of illness and treatment,” shares Zac. But in his recovery process, Zac has found fitness to play a huge part both physically and mentally. “I am faster and stronger than ever before…and I have settled on CrossFit. For many reasons it appeals to me….one of the biggest factors is the undoubtable feeling of community and the constant support from everyone I meet.” This June marks the end of Zac’s 5 year remission period from cancer, and in an effort to mark the occasion, Zac will be wearing a 20kg weight vest in his normal day to day life for the entire month of June.
“I want to raise awareness for all the people tackling cancer that aren’t seen. I think it’s important that we remove from our minds that cancer is a response to unhealthy lifestyles or a disease of the old.” Zac shares that when he was sick, a lot of people commented “You don’t even look ill – you could be at work.” But the reality is, we have no idea what mental and physical battles people all over are struggling with, be it cancer, depression or other trials. Zac says, “The vest is a visible representation of the weight people are carrying around daily that cannot normally be seen, both for the sufferers and their families.”
All money raised will be donated to CLIC Sargent and McMillian Cancer Support – two charities that do incredible work and personally supported Zac and his family when he was ill. Also, big shoutout to Wolverson Fitness, who donated the 20kg vest for the June challenge! If you want to donate, please do. You can also spread the cause by sharing, liking and using #20kgForCancer. With an extra 20kg on him, we’re thinking Zac is going to need some extra encouragement some days. You can even join him from afar by wearing your own weight vest.
We asked Zac what workout he is most excited to do with his weight vest on. “In my training so far, I am enjoying basic, simple movements that the vest adds a new element to, like box jumps and push-ups. I do like long chippers and AMRAPs, so I think Filthy 50 will be fun.”