How Barbells for Boobs Gave Breast Cancer Survivor Emma Morrett Her Confidence Back
Emma Morrett was 43 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018.
“At first, I actually had a false negative biopsy,” explained Morrett, who had been doing CrossFit since 2014 and was in the best shape of her life when she found a lump in her breast.
When doctors removed the five centimeter lump and tested it, it came back positive for cancer. This led to a mastectomy of her right breast in 2019, and reconstruction surgery last November.
Today, Morrett is cancer-free and competed in her first multi-day CrossFit competition earlier this month, the Legends West Regional competition hosted by Outcast CrossFit in Las Vegas, NV.
A Weekend to Remember
The weekend was an emotional one for Morrett, and not because she hit a 145-pound clean and jerk PR, but because of the support she received from her friends at Barbells for Boobs, a charity founded by long-time CrossFit athlete Zionna Hanson that provides support and education to incorporate physical activity for breast cancer risk reduction, treatment and survivorship.
Morrett became heavily involved with Barbells for Boobs last year, and when COVID-19 hit and her gym, Torrance Training Lab in CA closed, she began joining in on daily Barbells for Boobs Zoom workouts with other breast cancer survivors.
Two of the women, Michelle Ritter and Mariah Decker, have become her close friends, and Morrett finally had the chance to meet them in person at the competition.
“They came out to cheer me on, traveled on their own dime (from Utah and Idaho), and we met for the first time. It was like going on a first date. I was like, ‘You’re a lot taller in person than you looked on Zoom,’” Morrett said, laughing.
She added: “It was emotional. There was a lot of sweat and tears on the weekend…I felt like I had known them my whole life. Breast cancer brought us together, but it’s not what’s holding us together now.”
Not only did Ritter and Decker show up to support Morrett, but two of her Barbells for Boobs coaches, Keisha Hart and Johnna Dionisio, as well as photographer Matt Grabinski, were also in attendance all weekend supporting Morrett’s first in-person competition since recovering from breast cancer. That’s just how the organization is, Morrett explained.
“It doesn’t matter what the issue is. It doesn’t even have to be about cancer. I can always reach out at any time of the day or night, and they’ll get back to you,” she said.
Having so many Barbells for Boobs supporters present all weekend is the reason Morrett said she was able to clean and jerk a new record, and win the first event on Sunday morning.
“To finish Day 2 with a PR and start Day 3 with a win was amazing. I felt invincible and unstoppable, and I don’t know that I would have had faith in my abilities without coaches there, and everyone else back home, blowing up my text messages, supporting me,” she said.
The Big Picture
After going through something like breast cancer, your confidence takes a hit and you start to think that you are cancer, Morrett explained. And the key to getting her confidence back and realizing that cancer was just “a blip on the radar” and not what defines her, has been finding her people.
“A lot of people think (Barbells for Boobs) is a touchy-feely, kumbaya support group, and it can be if you need it to be, but for me it has made me mentally stronger,” Morrett said. “They have given me the mental strength to have confidence in my physical strength again.”
She added: “And I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. The price of gas went up? That’s OK. There are bigger things to worry about…I’m better, stronger, cooler than I have ever been in my life. It takes a village, and I found my village.”