In Medical/Injuries

December 19, 2011

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Rick Reifenberg’s life was perfect. Then cancer struck. He says physical and mental fortitude helped him survive.

In August 2010, everything in my life seemed to be going great. Life was good. So good, it was frighteningly close to perfect. I had just celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary, and my wife and I were raising our 10-year-old daughter together and sharing the joys and challenges of being parents. Professionally, I was just starting my 11th year at what I felt was my dream job: working as a primary-care physician in a community health center.

My own health had been excellent. As a lifelong exercise fanatic, I had been strictly adhering to a CrossFit-based regime of working out and following a combined Paleo-Zone-type diet based on maximizing lean protein, fruits and vegetables while limiting processed carbohydrates. At age 45, after two years of diligently adhering to this program, I literally was stronger than when I was in my 20s.

Unfortunately, everything in my life was about to change.



11 Comments on “CrossFit—And My 10-Year-Old—Helped Me Beat Leukemia”


wrote …

You have a great daughter- congrats. And congrats on drop kicking cancer on its ass!


wrote …

This is an incredible story of your journey and resolve to beat it. Congrats, you are inspirational! Thank you for sharing this.


wrote …

wow...your daughters sign and your story made my eyes water. great work sir. inspirational story to all. great recovery. welcome back!


wrote …

Rick, thanks for the inspirational story, you are one heck of a strong survivor. Stay well man.


Edwin Johnson wrote …

Thank you for sharing your incredibly inspiring story. Thank you for reminding me just how much of a blessing it is to be healthy. Prayers for the continued health and happiness of you and your family.


wrote …

Rick, all power to you and your family and for reminding us that our wills, minds and bodies are far stronger than what we normally think. "No Whining" will now become a mantra in my repertoire.

All the best and remain proud!


wrote …

Rick, thank you for sharing this story. My Dad lost a 4 year battle with leukemia 3 years ago at the age of 59. He had a perfect match donor also. He was very close to beating it. That's part of the reason I got into crossfit. If he had been a little bit healthier he would have beat it. If it happens to me, I want to be ready for it.


wrote …

The "unknown and unknowable" takes another loss to a crossfitter! Nice work Rick! Much like Jonathan, I lost my step-father to Leukemia when he was 49. He was not physically prepared to endure the fight. I'll never know if fitness would have changed the results, but I'll always wonder. Thanks to Crossfit, your daughter, and my sons, won't have that concern when our next "unknown and unknowable" arrives.


Cole Rashmi wrote …

This is what it's all about. Thanks for sharing such an inspirational story.


wrote …

Amazing story, Dr. Rick. I can vouch for the fact that you truly were in unbelievable shape - for any age - before all of this, and it sounds like you are almost back there already (80 chest-to-deck push-ups unbroken!). I certainly hope your health continues to improve and I hope we'll see your name up on that Masters leaderboard this spring!


wrote …

My Father died of AML. I always thought he was a very strong person mentally and physically, but I never considered that he could be exercising during and after his bone marrow treatments. I felt helpless during the treatment, and ever since (3 years have passed) I've always wondered what I could do to help anybody else in that situation. This was an inspiring article. It makes plenty of sense that your physical strength contributed to your recovery, but until I read your article, it hadn't even crossed my mind.

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