MANILA, Philippines – Louie Sangalang learned that he had cancer when he was 21 years old. Instead of giving in, he turned to sports to fight the disease. He shares how keeping an athletic mindset has helped him power through the physical, mental, and emotional stresses of rehabilitation.
“I found out I had cancer in 2000 – I was still in college, and it was my last year – through the biopsy in my appendix. I was shocked, I was very shocked, because I knew I had an athletic lifestyle before,” shared Louie.
The moment he found out, Louie tried to learn as much as he could about his disease, and told himself that he was going to do everything in his power to fight it. His first thought was to get back that athletic mindset he lost when he was in college.
But it wasn’t the cancer that caused him pain, it was the treatment and the adjustments that he had to make that came with it.
“ It’s actually the treatment that is very, very difficult to deal with. Your body undergoes a tremendous amount of pain and rehabilitation. I can’t even describe how challenging that was,” he said.
Despite the pain that he felt, he still pushed himself and tried as best as he could to take care of himself both physically and mentally.
“I train almost every day. For my recovery, I was running and alternating that with wrestling in the morning. Boxing 3 times a week; and Muay Thai, twice a week. And in the evenings I would do Jiu Jitsu,” said Louie.
"I'm not saying that being active will cure cancer. It certainly doesn't. But having [an] athletic mindset gave me the discipline to actually live a healthier lifestyle – a more active lifestyle that will reduce the risk of the disease coming back again. I make sure that I always take care of my body,” he added.
Louie found strength in sports. Through his MMA tournaments and the triathlons he competed in, he was able to learn more about himself and his body, and was able to take control of his situation.
“First thing I would tell people is to believe in yourself. Seconds is to have no regrets. Third is to not be a victim of circumstance because you can always do something about the situation. Fourth is to take care of your body. How you treat your body is a reflection of how you treat others. And, finally, never give up. No matter how hard or difficult, how painful the experience is, just keep on fighting,” he shared. – Rappler.com