Told She’d Never Workout Again, Cancer Survivor Laurie Page Begins Her Ninth Year of CrossFit

March 21, 2021 by
Credit: Mike Vialpando
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In 2002, 40-year-old Laurie Page was diagnosed with leukemia. Because of her age and the type of cancer, doctors didn’t think they could find a cure. 

Today, almost 20 years after the initial diagnosis and being told she would never work out again due to complications from treatment, now 61-year-old Page is an avid CrossFitter at CrossFit Perimeter in Georgia. 

Her story: Page was always active; the morning of her diagnosis, Page said she probably ran 8 miles. She ran road races on the weekends, completed a triathlon, and helped train clients at a gym. 

  • “Then all of the sudden, you’re knocked off your pedestal,” Page says, noting that she was quite sick for two years, eventually having a bone marrow transplant. 
  • Page’s treatment and medication destroyed her bone density, turning her bones into “goo,” and damaged her kidneys, leaving her with chronic kidney disease. 

Page says she came out on the other side asking, “When can I start working out?” But, because of her kidneys and bone loss, doctors were adamant that Page couldn’t overheat her body; she could never work out again. 

  • “So for a couple years, I walked six miles a day,” she says. “I’m like, ‘Yeah! I can do this, I mean, it’s better than nothing!’”
  • Page does say she tried to keep up some fitness while she was in treatment, smuggling hand weights into her room and hiding them under her bed.
  • “I would put on my door, ‘patient in bathtub,’ and I would do leg lifts and squats and lunges,” she says. 

Soon after her treatment finished, Page went back to work full-time, managing a microbiology lab. She hired a young kid, right out of college, who she described as “a little overweight, a stocky guy.”

  • “He goes ‘Laurie, I’m going to get in the best shape of my life,’” she said. The young kid had started taking CrossFit classes.
  • “And little by little, I watched his body transform — it’s pretty amazing — and then this little, stocky kid turned into this, I don’t know, this physique and this… Everything changed about him. His confidence, his body, even his work ethic, everything,” Page continued. 
  • “When I saw [him] come in and when I saw what he did, I’m like ‘F this shit.’ I don’t care what they say, I’m working out.” Eight years later, Page is still at the same gym where she started. 
Credit: Mike Vialpando

The past eight years: Since starting CrossFit, Page has reversed her bone density; they’re once again hard as rocks. 

  • “I knew you could improve it,” she says, speaking to her bone density. “But I think [my doctors] were pretty surprised that I was able to do it.”

Page didn’t tell her doctors until much later, when they found an elevation of protein levels in her urine during a test — these levels were already high due to her kidney disease —  that she had started CrossFit. 

  • They all got on board with it – my oncologist actually liked so much what he saw from CrossFit that he started doing CrossFit,” she says. 

Page says she went into CrossFit with little expectation but knew she “missed that feeling of being sore.”

  • Now, she says: “I lift, I do everything, but I don’t run. I might do it slow, I may not be the fastest, but I keep up with people in my class.” 
  • Page credits her confidence to CrossFit, saying she’s been promoted three times since starting.“The strength gives you confidence and power. At work sometimes I have to lift heavy things and they’ll come up to me and be like ‘I got this’ and I’ll be like, ‘No, I can pick it up.’” 
  • “[CrossFit] did what I wanted. I can still put on a two-piece bathing suit and look good, I can still go hiking with my grown daughters now, I can scale a fence if I need, I can do all that stuff,” she continues. “It’s hard to put in words, honestly, what it’s done for me.”

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