Women, WOD & Wine Offers Breast Cancer Survivors A Chance to ‘Talk About Everything’
In June of 2020, Julie Brewster felt a lump in her breast.
- “I was at my friend’s pool in the middle of the day, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s weird,’” Brewster recalls. “I got an ultrasound, and they found nine cancerous tumors in my chest.”
And as Brewster, a coach and avid CrossFitter, went through treatment, surgery, and recovery for her newly-diagnosed breast cancer, one thing stuck out: she couldn’t find anyone like her.
- “I didn’t understand how Barbells for Boobs worked,” she said. “You have to fill out all of these forms, and I just wanted to talk to a real person. I needed to talk to other CrossFit girls.”
Women, WOD & Wine: Brewster started holding events called “Women, WOD & Wine” before her diagnosis in 2020 at her gym, BayState CrossFit. The events, free and open to all women regardless of their CrossFit experience, were designed to empower the community by bringing them together for a partner workout (and of course, wine).
After her diagnosis, Brewster decided to continue these events but center them around breast cancer support and awareness, giving the community a place – as Brewster needed – to learn and talk about the disease.
- “[Other women] have the same questions I had: Am I going to be able to work out again? Am I broken? What’s happening to my body?”
Today, Women, WOD & Wine also gives Brewster a chance to raise funds for a unique piece of her support for survivors: Boobvoyage Survival Kits.
These care packages, which feature items that helped Brewster get through treatment, are one of the ways she’s hoped to make cancer less stressful on others:
- “I received my first [ care package] when I was diagnosed. It was from someone I didn’t know… and I had tears in my eyes. It’s like a breath of fresh air,” Brewster said.
- “It’s so overwhelming at the beginning because the doctors know what they’re doing. They see [breast cancer] all the time, so they’re [moving] fast. They’re like, ‘OK we’re doing this and this and this, and the patient, you’re like, ‘What’s happening? Am I going to die? Are my kids going to be motherless?’”
- “And then, someone sends you a care package,” she said.
The package includes everything from a shower lanyard to hold drainage tubes and comfortable socks to a water bottle with a straw, hard candy, and a GrubHub gift card. One non-negotiable for every care package is The List, a catalog of everything Brewster wished she knew during treatment.
- “It’s funny because people will say to me, ‘You know so much about cancer now,’” Brewster said. “I didn’t want to! But it’s out there, and I want to help.”
Brewster’s long-term plan for Women, WOD & Wine is to achieve nonprofit status. Until then, she’s continuing her work raising money and providing support for survivors and awareness for breast cancer at as many gyms as she can.