Cancer made me stronger! Woman overcomes stage four cancer by becoming powerlifter and exercising through treatment

A woman who overcame stage four cancer by becoming a powerlifter and exercising through treatment gets the ALL CLEAR.


Clea Sackville, 27, from Vancouver, Canada, was diagnosed with deadly Hodgkin Lymphoma after she started feeling fatigued and developed spots on her neck and armpits two years ago.

Hospital scans confirmed a mass in her chest, that doctors were concerned was restricting her breathing and started her on a medical trial and chemotherapy.

After feeling ‘ugly’ and ‘fat’ from treatment side effects, she started working out up to six days a week and was able to overcome the often ‘crippling sickness’ caused by chemo.

She worked out nearly every day during treatment, allowing her to sculpt her physique and attain a high muscle mass, through a weight training programme and later powerlifting training.

Since getting all-clear results for two-years, with her tested every-three-months, she’s hoping to enter competitions to show off her strength and chiselled physique.

Clea, who works in construction safety management, said: “I dedicated my entire body to treatment so working out was my way of being able to control a certain area in my life.

“I put together a programme with a trainer, I started getting stronger and stronger, with more energy, instead of feeling worse I felt better the more I trained.

“It made me stronger, it gave me a sense of control and purpose because I wasn’t just relying on chemotherapy, I was training my way through treatment.

“I believe the exercise helped to reduce the side-effects of chemotherapy, I felt much better and didn’t feel as sick as I could have been.

“The more I worked out the less it bothered me and I feel like I recovered faster.


“There were a lot of struggles adjusting to normal life again, I used the gym as a consistent thing to carry on doing.

“It was another form of treatment for me, exercising during my treatment helped me to recover quicker and feel a lot better.

“I’m so much stronger than I was before both physically and mentally too.”

Clea started suffering with symptoms two years ago, initially she dismissed them as overworking herself and after her first doctors trip was given antibiotics.

When her problems persisted, further tests and scans revealed she had Hodgkin Lymphoma – a form of cancer that affects the lymphatic system.

Clea said: “I was suffering with fatigue and lumps started popping up on my neck, collarbone and armpits.


“After the lumps didn’t go away I was given antibiotics, it was believed I had an infection but more rashes developed and more fatigue.

“I had a chest x-ray and blood work, which revealed a mass in my chest around my lungs and windpipe, which doctors were concerned about.

“The tumour was announced, it was stage four and I started a clinical trial months later and chemo.”


Stage four Hodgkin Lymphoma has a five-year survival rate of 65% according to The American Cancer Society, but Clea says she was not saddened by the news of her diagnosis.

She kept strong and figured out a challenging exercise routine to keep herself mentally and physically strong.

Clea said: “I wasn’t overwhelmed by the diagnosis, but there were a couple of moments where I just didn’t know what to do.

“I thought it would be stage one or two, not as severe as it was, we were all surprised by how far along it had come.

“While starting treatment, exercising helped myself mentally and allowed my body to handle it so much better.”


As follow up tests reveal she is still in remission, she’s continued to strengthen her body and hopes in the future to take part in powerlifting competitions.

Clea said: “It was a huge relief hearing I had the all clear, at first after my diagnosis I felt lost and didn’t know what to do, it was such a relief finding a new purpose in life.

“I started powerlifting – where you lift the heaviest weights you can in different exercises, up to six days a week and now inspire others online with my posts and workouts.


“I’m hoping to enter powerlifting competitions in the future, which will really show how far I’ve come along.”

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