How Openfit Teammate Lindsey Hager Garcia Found Health and Courage During Chemo
Being sick doesn’t often motivate most people to work out. But for Lindsey Hager Garcia — the inspiration for Openfit’s upcoming Pink Ribbon Walk — a cancer diagnosis did just that.
When Hager Garcia, 34, a married mother of two in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was diagnosed with breast cancer this year, she became a beacon of determination. The beloved Openfit Teammate committed to daily Xtend Barre workouts, a healthy diet and counting her blessings — all of which not only helped her get through her ordeal, but also thrive. Now, as she heads into her final chemo treatment, she shares what she’s learned about living a strong, happy, healthy life.
Openfit: What was your life like before you received your breast cancer diagnosis?
Hager Garcia: I’m a mom to two boys, Andrew, 4; and Emmett, 2. They are the lights of my life. Having grown up as a dancer, I was always very, very fit. But when I had kids, making myself a priority kind of went out the window.
So at the end of January, I did my first Openfit Challenge: the 21-Day Xtend Barre and Sugar Free 3 Challenge. I absolutely loved it! I finished the challenge a week before finding my lump.
How did you discover your breast cancer?
In December of last year, I had a miscarriage when I was 12 weeks along, so when I found a lump in my breast this January, I thought it was a clogged milk duct. I got a mammogram and an ultrasound, and the radiologist said, “Obviously we have to do a biopsy to confirm, but I am very certain this is cancer.”
I literally was just in shock. I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, which is cancer in my milk ducts. I didn’t want to mess around — I want to be here for a long time to raise my kids. So I got a double mastectomy four days before they started shutting stuff down for COVID, and started chemo April 20. Due to some delays, I will have had eight rounds by August 7.
What has your treatment been like?
Chemo can be really draining, but working out helped me feel stronger, even when I was feeling down and scared. By the beginning of April, I was Stage 1B, which is incredible. I started getting hot flashes, which isn’t fun. And I’m a bald gal now. I look like an alien compared to what I used to be! But my 4-year-old tells me, “Mama, you’re beautiful.”
Why do you think Xtend Barre works so well personally for you?
I have never had a workout make me that sore in 30 minutes — but, like, that good sore that feel when you’re making changes. And with my dance background, I loved the choreography.
At first, I was only doing it two to three times a week. After my diagnosis, I started doing it daily. I lost 19 pounds this year and I think that has to do with changing my lifestyle.
I’m very, very thankful for Openfit because I’ve got to stay strong somehow, and I can’t go to the gym right now because of COVID. But even if I could, I wouldn’t.
How have you changed your diet to stay strong?
I eat everything as long as it’s organic with no added sugars — I follow the Sugar Free 3 plan, mostly.
I’m a meat girl, but I’ve limited that. And we got a cold press juicer. My favorite juice is a beet, celery, apple, broccoli, and ginger.
How has your mindset changed since your cancer diagnosis?
I am so thankful for the little things. And there’s just way, way, way too many good things!
I listened to some of my (“Failing Awesomely”) podcast episodes last year, and I’m almost grateful to have had breast cancer because the girl from last year was so burned out about the daily woes of motherhood and not counting the blessings as much as I should be. Now I count every single one. Like this morning, my mom had my boys so I had coffee out on my front porch and there were birds and a slight breeze and it was just beautiful.
You’re the inspiration for the Pink Ribbon Walk on July 25. How does that feel?
I’m blown away. I’m so grateful and so humbled that they want to do this in support of my journey and in support of the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute — they’re the ones carrying me through this. Pre-COVID, I’d hug every single person in that building!
Is anything on your bucket list today that wasn’t on it before your cancer diagnosis?
I want to help other women who go through this for the rest of my life. I want to happily tell people you can actually thrive during this. This is not all doom and gloom. It is not a death sentence. In fact, it can make you live your life for the first time.
What do you wish more of us knew about living a happy, healthy life?
You have to think of the positive. You have to think, “What can I do now? What can I change about my lifestyle now?” In the time it takes to make excuses you could have already worked out! It sounds so easy. But it is.
In the long run, my boys are gonna have a much stronger, healthy mama in the end. So it’s nothing but good things.