Mikey T and Me

I love the whole team that is helping me reclaim my life at Epic. I know they are all in my corner and they are all just as friendly as they are fit…and they are super fit. They all bring out a different side of me.

I am most goofy and upbeat with Melica (she’s a riot), I am sweetest with Joe, I am the most shy and quiet around Paul (because, hot dang, he is amazing), I feel the most confident around Lani.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have all these awesome people in my life. However, the person I spend the most time with, and the hero of my comeback story, is Mike.

Mike and I are an odd couple. He’s fit (duh) and very naturally athletically gifted. I am squishy and have been moderately talented, at best, in my athletic endeavors. I will never be awesome at sports, I’m just willing to work hard. Mike will always be awesome, his level of work input just slightly adjusts his already skilled output.

When you put us together, you would think we don’t have a lot of common ground. Besides that, I have a sneaking suspicion that most trainers love to train the highest caliber athletes. I imagine it’s like most things, better is better. But Mike is stuck with me, the antithesis of better. And yet, he is largely the one responsible for taking the broken mess I bring in every day and fixing it. He is the one who is carving the warrior out of the wood.

He is the one who is teaching me to live again. At first, I thought he was trying to push me to break my body. I thought for sure I would physically hit the wall and smash into a thousand pieces, unable to put myself back together again. I believed my goals were impossible, even though I so desperately wanted to go after them.

What I see now is that Mike was breaking my heart. He smashed those self-imposed limits- hurled them against the wall with each crushing workout until I fell apart and cried in the middle of the gym. He cracked open the mental shell that was too small and too rigid to hold my expanding dreams. He freed my heart and mind to be open to any possibility, to hold all opportunities in my hands and to pursue them with a passion and energy I had abandoned.

Mike didn’t just reintroduce me to myself, he has made me believe I am capable of so much more. He has unlocked a source of resilience and strength in me that I didn’t know existed. He changed my life, and even I can’t quite find the words to describe how powerful that shift has been. I just know his gift has almost a child-like quality. I feel restored to a younger, freer version of myself where the doors are still open and I can go through any of them.

With cancer, I thought the doors had closed. I felt the blowback as they slammed shut in front of me while disease and loss was setting me back. I worried and grieved that the best was behind me. 

Mike created the circumstances for those doors to open again. My life isn’t over. I am not stuck. I am not dying. I still get to dream and I can build the strength to do anything I want. For someone who has sat sobbing in the dark night because of the fear that life might be ending, this gift of a future surpasses my ability to speak gratitude to it.

Mike has inspired hope, courage, and strength back into my life. Without exception, I am now more than I was before illness.

I am so grateful for this place, Epic, and for the amazing souls within its walls. They all inspire me to show up and put my best to work. They raise the bar and I stretch to reach it. All of them have been with me on this journey, and all have had a hand in helping me grow.

Mike, though, has taught me to go big, to push hard and make great leaps toward faith. With that attitude, I am becoming a new person. While before I shied away from the pain, I now crave the hurt and the breakthrough to the other side. I seek the pain because the reward is so dang sweet.

I have to thank Mike for gifting me my life back. He has given pieces of himself in our time together, and I have taken what he has shared and have made myself whole again. He will always be among the brightest who have helped me heal.

Give ‘Em Hell

mikey t
Mike instructing me on my next movement. I will rise because he has taught me to climb.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. David Tarantino says:

    As Mike’s Uncle (or a more correct term would be brother as we are but a few scant years apart) I can’t tell you what your amazing and kind words have done. The Mike that you describe in this is the very same MIKEY I have seen since we were little kids. He is the best man I know, strong and yet emotional, smart but warm, and always wholly himself. It is an honor and a privilege to see how he had shaped not only the lives of me, my daughter, and our family but others as well. The courage and resilience you have shown in your brave battle is exactly what my brother would seek out and try to help. I know that you think that you may make a bit of an odd pair but, as someone who has loved Mike since he was little, I can tell you that the pair isn’t as odd as you might think. Thank you so much for sharing your story and allowing my Mike to join you in it.


    1. I dissolved into tears reading this and I still don’t quite have myself back together again! Your note hit me on a such a tender note. Mike has given me kindness and compassion I wasn’t able to give myself. He is so deeply good and I feel incredibly honored to be the recipient of his authenticity and encouragement. He clearly has some amazing people in his life, too. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me. It means a lot to me.


  2. I am so glad you came into my sons life. For as much as he has changed your life you have changed his too. Thank you for sharing your story.


    1. You did an amazing job, momma. I imagine you are so proud of him, and rightfully so. He’s one in a million.


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