Transformation: Elizabeth Aguilera
Photo by Paul Buceta
ELIZABETH AND MORGAN HAVE OVERCOME CANCER, ANOREXIA AND MAJOR LIFESTYLE UPHEAVALS TO ACHIEVE THEIR GOAL OF FIT AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, HEALTHY LIVES.
ELIZABETH ’S JOURNEY
MY NAME IS ELIZABETH AGUILERA AND I AM A CANCER SURVIVOR, MILITARY SPOUSE AND RECENT PURDUE GRADUATE. Over a three year period, I survived cancer while dealing with military deployments and four cross country moves, and graduated in the top 10 per cent from Purdue University, in the US, and placed fourth place in my first NPC competition.
My journey began at the age of 20 when I married my husband, who’d just signed up to the US Navy. I began online classes at Purdue and moved to wherever my husband’s career took us – four cross-country moves in three years! I was doing endless cardio and eating low calories, yet I was not finding the results I wanted, so I decided to invest in a nutritionist. I went from 24 per cent body fat to 12 per cent by eating five to six healthy meals a day and learning the importance of nutrition. My husband then left for his first deployment, and I felt I had reached my nutrition and fitness goals.
I felt that I had really gained control of my life. I had learned the correct way to eat and workout and was doing exceptionally well in my classes and my husband had returned from the Middle East. Life was good. However, the
week before I was planning on moving home to complete my final year at Purdue, I found out I had melanoma. Since then, I’ve had surgery four times and had seven areas removed. I began the classes like a normal student – my professors, and even my mother, told me the best thing to do would be to drop the classes since I was flying to Florida to see my doctors every three weeks. I didn’t drop a single class. It was very stressful, time consuming and draining. I remember sitting in my kitchen after I got off the phone with my doctor and I was so mad at my life. “Why can’t I ever have a break?” I shouted out.
I really hit a low point in my life. On top of the cancer, my husband was also to be sent for another deployment after I graduated. So with my studies and trips to the hospital, there was no time to really be with him before he departed for another six months away. It was a lot to take in. I felt everything was so out of control that the only thing I could do was my best. I went from trying to control every aspect of my life to understanding that life can – and will – throw anything my way. Resisting the inevitable, complaining and feeling sorry for myself did absolutely nothing, so I decided to simply change my attitude. My husband has now just left for his deployment and my melanoma will be with me forever, but I have accepted it and how things are.
Now, every two months I go to the doctor for my exams, which consist of full body screenings, lymph node exams and CAT scans to monitor everything. Come September, I will also be having another melanoma area removed for the second time. This illness will be something I have to live with everyday and watch carefully, but by maintaining a positive attitude I will get through it.
LIFE IS TOO SHORT! I REALLY FEEL THAT MY APPARENT OBSTACLES ARE ACTUALLY BLESSINGS IN DISGUISE AND THEY HAVE MADE ME APPRECIATE MY LOVED ONES, MY LIFE, AND ENABLED ME TO REALLY FOCUS ON MY HEALTH. YOU ARE CAPABLE OF ANYTHING YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO.