SHERIDI TOSTE 09/26

When Channel let me know that I was the spotlight boot camper I have to be honest and admit that the first word I focused on was “spotlight”, which is not a place that I like to be. My second thought was “Oh No, I have to write one of those testimonials and share with people.” I tend to be a fairly reserved person and opening up to people is difficult for me. After praying about it, I felt that God was telling me to give it my best shot and to be as open and honest as I could be. So here goes (as I take a deep breath for courage).
! Since I grew up with four brothers and no sisters it is not a big surprise that I was a tomboy growing up. I hauled wood, milked the goats, and took care of the chickens right along side of my brothers. In high school I was a cheerleader and in marching band. I was never a super athletic person but I enjoyed athletic activities like snow skiing, water skiing, and bike riding.
! A couple weeks before my 22nd birthday, I was walking my dogs and heard a snap and fell to the ground in excruciating pain. After a couple weeks in the hospital, I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. The snap I had heard was my femur bone breaking where there was a tumor in the bone. A bone scan revealed that I had another tumor higher up in the same leg. The doctors decided that I had to have a hip disarticulation, one of the highest types of amputations that takes the whole leg and hip joint leaving only the hip socket in place and making the use of a prosthetic very difficult. I will never forget the doctor saying, “It’s your leg or your life.” So three days before my 22nd birthday, my right leg was amputated.
! Then came the chemotherapy and months of throwing up and looking like a bald Skeletor. When I could finally keep food down again, my weight blossomed. I had gone from a fairly active lifestyle prior to losing my leg, to a much more sedentary one. I struggled with my weight and my self image.
! During this time I married my high school sweetheart, Garrett who had stood by me during these life changing events. After being married a couple of years we were blessed with our daughter, Mallory. This was an extra blessing because prior to my chemo treatment we had been warned that the type of chemotherapy I had to have might reduce my ability to get pregnant. A couple of years later and we decided to try our luck again. This time around, God decided to give us a double blessing with our twins, Kendall and Kelsie. I have to admit when I found out I was pregnant with twins I was in shock and felt absolute terror. I can remember thinking, “Uhh, God, remember me, the one-legged mama, are you sure you didn’t mix me up with someone else?” I had managed to figure out how to cart around one baby but how was I going to get around with two babies and a toddler? Fast forward in time. My oldest is now 15 and the twins are 12 and although it was definitely a challenge, we managed to get through those baby years. The love of my life, that man that I am lucky enough to have and get to call husband, this month we just celebrated our 18th anniversary.
! Prior to leaving California 2 years ago, I had lost about 60 lbs. and was doing a good job maintaining my weight. I was not interested in being model thin. I just wanted to have some stamina so that I could better keep up with my family. Then we moved from California to Texas. Although the move was a positive one, I went from knowing everyone in the community, to not knowing a soul. My family of five was living in an RV park in a travel trailer, with a dog, a cat, a lizard and a rabbit while we looked for a house to buy. It was also the summer of the heat wave and most days the temperature was around 108 degrees which made it hard to get motivated and get out and walk. I gained weight back again. After a couple of months of those fun living conditions we finally found a house. Once we settled in I was determined to get back to a routine and lose some weight again. I tried walking in my neighborhood but once again had a hard time keeping myself motivated because it was boring. One day I was at my girls school and someone mentioned ABC. I immediately dismissed it and said I can’t do that. All those people are in really good shape. Over the next few months I would hear ABC mentioned again and again. Finally, I decided to give it a try. Jen Senelik had told me that she had talked to Channel about me and that Channel would be willing to modify the exercises for me. The morning came for me to go to bootcamp and I almost backed out. If I had not made arrangements to meet Jen there I don’t know that I would have actually gone. When I got there, I sat in my car and watched everyone for about 15 minutes. Finally I got the courage to step out of my car and make my way over to where Channel was shouting, ”Come on you can do it, push yourself.” I thought to myself, “What did I get myself in too?” I did not know it then, but I had just got myself into a place of encouragement, a place where no judgments are passed and the only words spoken are positive ones. A place where someone is always willing to lend a helping hand.
! I have been coming to ABC fairly consistently for about a year now. The first few months were hard. I would come home and hardly be able to move. My knee would be in so much pain that my husband would ask me, “Are you sure it’s worth it? Maybe you should try something else.” I would answer “No, I can do it. I like this place, everybody is so supportive and encouraging. Well, twelve months later I can say I did it. This past Monday I was able to do the Level C WOD for the first time ever. I felt such a sense of accomplishment. I know I won’t alway be able to do that and I am o.k with that. This past year has not only given me more physical strength, but it has also let me see myself through other people’s eyes. Since losing my leg I have struggled with my self image. I have viewed myself as lacking and not good enough, and have felt that my crutches were a symbol of weakness. I am coming to realize through everyones kind and encouraging words that I need to be looking at those crutches in a new way. I need to look at them as a symbol of strength.
! I want to say thank you to the coaches for always taking the extra time to come up with modifications for me and for carting the equipment around. I am not a very expressive person, but wanted to let you know it has meant a great deal to me. Thank you to all of my fellow boot campers. I love working out along side of you and want to thank you all for being such an amazing and loving group. I may have originally come for the exercise, but I keep coming back because of the people.
Sheridi Toste

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Friday, July 21, 2017 TODAY


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