At just 31-years-old, Lauren Holmes has packed a lot in. She’s mum to four fabulous children: Jacinta, who’s turning 13 in two weeks; 9-year-old Courtney, 6-year-old Flynn and 3-year-old Hunter. A health scare put exercise back on the agenda for Lauren and the results have been resoundingly positive. She’s an excellent example of what you can achieve when you believe your glass is half full.
You have been through a lot in life, can you tell us your story so far?
Oh my, where do I start? LOL. Unfortunately my two marriages failed, but I’m fortunate to have had four amazing kids as a result. The week of my 30th birthday (September 2012) I was told the cells on my last pap smear (which I had been having every six months as abnormal cells had been discovered previously) had changed radically. I was booked in for a colposcopy and I had a cone biopsy soon after. My oncologist decided that the best treatment would be a six-week round of internal radiation. I had a therapy called High Dose Brachytherapy, where a small radioactive device is put inside the cervix and uterus through the vagina every week. Since then I have had another round of radiation. All tests since treatment have been all clear of cancerous cells.
Have you always maintained a fit and healthy lifestyle?
No, I haven’t. As a child and teenager I was fit and actively involved in sports. Then I had kids and my priorities changed. It wasn’t until my second marriage broke down and I had the diagnosis of cervical cancer that I thought I had better pull my finger out and get fit and healthy. Not just for myself, but for my kids too.
What has been your hardest/lowest point and how did you get through it?
My hardest point would have been when I was going through radiation. I live alone with my four children, and I continued to try and walk and keep active but some days it took its toll on me. I fatigued easily but I couldn’t tell my kids as I felt they were too young to know. So I just soldiered on, I had no other choice.
Obviously physically things were tough but how did you cope mentally and emotionally?
Being a mum can be hard without the added extras! Emotionally I did struggle. I was on a rollercoaster and I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about what I was going through each day. I briefly spoke to a counsellor at the hospital and found that didn’t suit me. She did suggest that I try to channel the negativity I was feeling and turn it in to a positive. That’s when I started exercising.
Did you feel a shift when you started to exercise?
I definitely did. I felt amazing after a workout, even on my lowest day. In fact, the worse I felt emotionally, the more I found I would put in! Exercise has helped me turn into a more positive person with a better outlook on life. My family life wasn’t an active one, but now it is. I am able to be more involved in my children’s lives now that I am fitter. Cancer has changed my life for the better.
We saw a picture of your bruised knees on Instagram – what was the first obstacle race you did?
That photo was from The Victorian League Launch Day. It was only the second time I’d done an obstacle course. My first was Operation Blackhawk in August last year. I was just as bruised then, too!
Were you nervous beforehand?
No, I don’t get nervous. I don’t do OCR to race; it’s more about the sense of achievement I get from knowing I’ve done my best to get through and over the obstacles. I’m terrible at them, but I have a great time trying.
How did you build your fitness level up and get involved in Obstacle Racing?
I needed an outlet when I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I found myself just going for long walks, which turned into me cryingand jogging at the same time. It became my therapy. I started following Maryanne Eve (an old Kinglake friend) and found myself joining in on the fitness events she would post on Facebook. Every month there was a new challenge, from squats everyday; kettlebells, burpees, etc. I bought myself a bike and signed up for the Ride to Conquer Cancer in 2013. I hadn’t ridden a bike in over 10 years! During training for the event I was having more radiation so I would tire easily and I was lucky to have ever ridden more than 30kms. The weekend of the Ride to Conquer Cancer I rode my bicycle from Albert Park to Mornington and back – over 200kms. I never thought I would be able to do something like that. I have only just joined the gym as I feel I need that extra motivation and support to achieve my goals (like getting over a wall unassisted, although I do like getting a hand from the men on the course!). I am still working on my fitness levels. I am overweight but, in saying that, I have lost over 20kgs just by changing my diet slightly. I am definitely a work in progress. Maryanne and Shaun (Team Tutu) introduced me to OCR. I never thought I could be capable of completing a course until they suggested I should give it a go.
What do your children think?
My kids think it’s fantastic! My youngest son Hunter has even got Spartan burpees down to a fine art.
Do you feel like you have a different outlook on life through your experiences?
I definitely have a different outlook on life. I can’t afford to take anything for granted, especially my health. After all, I have my little family to care for.
What advice would you give to another mum going through a tough time?
Don’t let tough times beat you. Embrace them and you will always come out on top. I believe in positive thinking. Think positive and positive things will happen. Don’t give up.