Meet Gary Smith! Gary who turns 65 next week shares his life with his two pets, Buddy his Pomeranian dog and Tony his cat which he now calls Ton Ton because is he is so fat. At one time in his life, Gary had five dogs and three cats. This was when his wife, Katherine, was alive. They had been married for 33 years and she passed away two years ago.
Gary’s motivation to begin on his fitness journey was when he was diagnosed with cancer. After going through chemo and radiation treatments, he wanted to get back in shape and especially gain the muscle and strength in his arms. He said the biggest thing on his arms were the veins. Not only was Gary battling cancer he was also fighting alcoholism and smoking.
Surprisingly, Gary says he was not affected by his cancer treatments like most people. He did not lose his hair or get very sick. However, he did have some obstacles to overcome. Swallowing became very painful it felt like swallowing a golf ball with pins in it. He also had super bad arthritis in his wrists. He couldn’t even squeeze a tube of toothpaste it hurt so much. After seeing a rheumatologist, he was put on medication and the pain immediately subsided. Another obstacle was losing his taste buds. Gary said everything tasted like Dawn dish soap…and he knows what soap tastes like because he says he was a bad kid growing up.
Bellin Fitness played a huge part in helping Gary get stronger and healthier. He started working with Abbey Sigl, certified personal trainer. He says Abbey has changed his life. He couldn’t have had a better trainer. When he first started, he couldn’t even imagine doing some of the exercises. Gary says Abbey puts him though a pretty tough workout but he loves every minute of it.
Needless to say Gary’s life has changed immensely. Upon meeting Gary, I asked him how he was doing and he had the biggest smile on his face and said “Great!” He had just been told that he is cancer free after only 8 months! I got goosebumps just hearing him say that. The biggest change is his realization of how much his family means to him. Before his diagnosis, he had grown apart from his family but now he can’t imagine life without them in it. They have been his biggest support system. Being the oldest of six, he gets a phone call from each of his sisters every day. Unfortunately, he lost his brother from a car accident years ago. Even more amazing to him is the fact that his 83-year-old mother got up at 4 a.m. to travel from Mountain to be at every one of his 7 a.m. appointments. Other remarkable changes are the fact that his hasn’t had a cigarette in over two weeks and hasn’t had a drink since April…kudos to you, keep the streak going!
The advice that Gary would give to help others is to stay positive and have a good attitude! As you can tell from his story, he has a great sense of humor and he says the girls at the Cancer Team won’t be forgetting him any time soon!