Mary’s Story: Part 1

By Mary Hieb

Video Article

Cancer and an autoimmune disease in her lungs forced Mary Hieb into retirement, and fear of the colds and flus that could end her life made her a shut-in. At that point she knew she could either wait to die or fight to live, so she chose the latter.

And then she decided to try CrossFit.

Brought to Rainier CrossFit by her daughter, Sandy Castillo, Mary worked with Kurtis and Laurie Bowler, who slowly eased her into the program. Soon, Mary started to see health improvements, and medical tests eventually confirmed that her condition was indeed getting better.

After consultation with her doctor, Mary now has goals beyond simple survival: she wants to lose weight, keep it off and run around a 400-meter track with her son.

Video by Again Faster.

10min 23sec

Additional reading: Seniors and Kids by Greg Glassman, published Feb. 1, 2003.

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37 Comments on “Mary’s Story: Part 1”


Josh Elmore wrote …

It's stories like this that make what we're doing so worth it. The world NEEDS Crossfit. Thanks for the encouragement Mary and sharing your story with us.


wrote …

Great story! Mary, thanks for the inspiration. Way to go Rainier Crossfit, you guys are really what Crossfit is all about, making the toughest hombres on the planet. I got chills.


wrote …

Very inspirational. Crossfit is just a means to an end; you had the will to make a difficult change in your life and its paying off in spades. Good for you Mary. Keep up the hard work and I hope you exceed your goals.


wrote …

Mary, you’re doing a great job. Unfortunately I lost my Mother Julia to a boat load of issues two years ago. I wish I found CrossFit earlier so that I could have helped her take control of her situation. I wish you the best of strength in reaching your goal and controlling your future. So many people in your shoes want an operation or a pill to prolong life. You are taking your destiny into your own hands. I’m looking forward to hearing about how your make out. Vince SJP CrossFit


wrote …

What a great story. Congratulations on your progress Mary. I look forward to seeing part 2. My family is riddled with auto-immune disease, heart attacks and strokes. I'm going to have them watch this video. (they don't seem to listen to me for some reason)

Every now and then I hear someone complain that CF is getting too big. I just shake my head. They don't get it. The world is full of people like Mary and the members of my family. Just like Josh said in comment #1, the WORLD needs CrossFit. We have a lot of work to do....


wrote …

Thank you for your story Mary. Truly, inspiring. I have friends in their 30s complaining that exercise is too hard. And it's a shame but they don't know how easy they have it. You put them to shame. If something happens to me, I want your attitude. Just go for it anyway and do what I can.


Erik Larson wrote …

Wow Mary! I recently got accepted as a new affiliate and I broke down and wept watching your video. Knowing the potential to help people get their life back is what my partner and I are all about. As Deepak Chopra says, "Diagnosis is believable. Prognosis is bullshit!" If your doctor has no hope, how are you the patient supposed to. I think more people give up because they have no hope. As a CrossFit affiliate owner and trainer, I want to give people hope for those that have little...



wrote …

You go girl!!!! Absolutley amazing


wrote …

Great video and Mary you are inspiring! So glad Sandy and Dan brought you into Rainier and that you are taking charge of changing your life one day at a time! I am sending this to my father who has been battling a couple types of cancer, COPD, radiation scarring, and reduced lung function in the hopes that he and my mom will stop letting doctors tell them what they can't do. We have one set of parents CrossFitting in my family and my hope is this video will convince another set to start.

Go Mary and RCF!


wrote …

Your story is the perfect example of what CrossFit is all about! I'm proud of you, Mary, and your story should be a shining example of taking control of your life and never backing down. Way to go and keep up your hard work and perseverance! Woot woot!


wrote …

Inspirational stuff. Man I love hearing about doctor's reactions to improvements from CrossFit like they can't believe it is really possible. Like her doc telling her it was just the different machines! Keep rockin Mary you are awesome!


wrote …

Mary - we love you and you inspire us everyday.

Mary is one of those people who changes your life. You simply can't be the same after Mary has walked through your door. She is a special lady. Coaching Mary has been one of the most rewarding thing we've done in the gym. Thanks to CF and Again Faster for sharing her story. We are truly amazed by Mary and wanted everyone else to know what a rock star she is.


wrote …

We love you Mary, keep up the amazing work!


wrote …

I train at Rainier CF too, and Mary is truly one of my CF heroes. She always, always gives every wod everything she's got...and you should see her on max lift days...I love that she always wants that next PR! Love you, Mary!

Great video, guys!


Olivia de Santis wrote …

Very inspiring! Go Mary!


wrote …

Thank you so much for making this video! Mary is an inspiration to all. I can't wait to show this to my Mother in law.

Please keep us posted on your progress Mary!!


wrote …

Not only are you an inspiration to all of us, Mary, but your incredible smile and wonderful personality make it fun to be around you! And aren't we lucky to have adult children who encouraged us to try CrossFit...and to have Kurtis and Laurie as coaches!! Way to go Mary!


wrote …

Very inspiring but let's have some details Kurt. Do you scale the standard workouts? Change the 3 on 1 off cycle? I am 57 and slowly working in ways to exercise better. Diet is next.


wrote …

This video story should be made free so that it can be shared on Facebook or other social networking mediums.


wrote …

Bravo. *bow*
At a loss for words


wrote …

This is just a wonderful story, a witness to Mary's commitment to refusing "to be sick", a great testimony to the dedication to all athletes (no matter their level of ability) that Kurtis and Laurie Bowler offer at Rainier CrossFit, and why this physician says: "CrossFit IS healthcare, what I do for a living is sickcare". This video graphically illustrates how many lives could be improved and illness avoided through the CrossFit lifestyle. Welldone! J. James Rooks, JR MD


wrote …

Inspiring. Can't wait for part 2!


Patrick Arseneau wrote …

Mary, I hope we get to see you run that track! Show 'em doctors that Crossfit is for real. Thanks for the inspiration.


Julianne Taylor wrote …

What an amazing story.

I too have auto-immune issues, not lungs, but joints and thyroid (and maybe other bits of me!)

Diet has made an enormous difference to my issues. The diet that completely reversed all my symptoms is a strict Paleo diet with Zone balance.

Zone balance keeps me slim, and stops hunger and blood sugar issues, Paleo heals the gut and slows / stops the auto-immune reactions happening.

I also add lots of Omega 3 - keeps inflammation down
2000iu of vitamin D day - really important to have good vitamin D levels if you have auto-immune disease.
And a probiotic for gut health.

I also take a good quality multi vitamin (because auto-immune affects my absorption of nutrients)

Amazingly - I am symptom free and have been for 9 months.

All the best for your ongoing success Mary.


wrote …

Great story. Mary, You are an inspiration to many. Keep it up, I'm sure you'll make it around that track in no time.


wrote …

Wait to die, or fight to live.....
There are many of us who wish we could have found CF sooner to help loved ones fight to live.
Thanks Mary


wrote …

The most inspiring video I've seen on the journal ever! Congrats Mary and keep it going!


wrote …

I'm completely tearing up. Amazing.


wrote …

The true essence of Crossfit.

I can't tell you how happy I am to see stories like this. My wife is a breast cancer survivor. She was 20 wks pregnant when the diagnosis came. Long story short Cate Faith Douglas is now 3.5 yrs old and my wife is cancer free. I've been trying to get my wife into Crossfit Silverback here in Houston for some time. She deals with lymphodema on her right arm which is due to the surgeries she had to remove her tumor. She is extrememly worried that working out will exacerbate the lymphodema. This and I think she is just way intimidated by Crossfit.

This story might be what it takes to get her going again. It may just change her life forever. God Bless this lady (Mary) for having the courage to LIVE LIFE! You go girl. I hope to be as solid a crossfiter one day as you are.


wrote …

Yes, that brought tears to my eyes!


Adam Neiffer wrote …

"The Lord knows about CrossFit." Quote of the year, you're amazing Mary! Can't wait until you jog around that track with your son. You said it, truly miraculous. Laurie, Kurtis, and the whole family up there share an amazing gift. Godspeed!


wrote …

Inspirational. It renews me and makes me only want to work harder to bring this to others.

This is my opportunity to change the world, the right way.


wrote …

Thank you for sharing your touching story, Mary. It will be great to show my family how CrossFit truly saves lives.


wrote …

I just fell in love with you Mary! God bless you and keep going girl you are amazing.


wrote …

I love it! Your gonna die... You have to love the stories were people like Mary just decide to not accept the bad prognosis and start fighting. I am glad CrossFit was there for her and her daughter and son-in-law were willing to keep talking about it. I just want to run... wow talk about a life change!!!



wrote …

I've been showing everyone about you mary. You are a prime example that CrossFit works wonders.

The people i coach are inspired.

And Kudos for Curtis Bowler for taking up marys challenge. This is great for the "You Be the Trainer" type of scenerios.


wrote …

We marvel at crossfit heroes like Kalipa, Everett, Nicole, Salo, Wagner and Annie, but Mary belongs right there with them! She's my number 1 Crossfit hero!

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