In September 2012, Heather Holladay
found out she
had breast cancer.
was 42 years old.
No one in her
family had experienced cancer, so she
had not been high risk.
had taken genetic testing for cancer, but the tests had come back negative.
Heather's cancer was a fluke.
It also was larger than a tennis ball when discovered.
Today, just a year later, Heather
is cancer free-a survivor and an inspiration.
not only beat cancer but extended a hand to help others.
While dealing with her
own radiation treatments, Heather
instructed Zumba classes to cancer patients, caregivers and staff at Cancer Treatment Centers of America
at Southeastern Regional Medical Center
"I was going to be there anyway," says Heather
, who left her
home in Montgomery, Ala., and moved into the Center in Newnan to receive five weeks of radiation therapy.
"So I thought, why not?"
Many people with cancer and taking treatment might think, "Why?"-why commit yourself to another responsibility while fighting your own battle to be well.
, however, it was all part of the integrated approach to cancer treatment she
received at CTCA
Heather's program consisted of traditional treatment, including eight treatments of chemotherapy over a 16-week period followed by surgery to remove six lymph nodes.
After that, she
began radiation therapy as a preventive measure-to kill anything microscopic.
During all of this, she
embraced the supportive therapies promoted by CTCA
Those therapies included diet consultation; naturopathic medicine to strengthen her
immune system, boost her
energy and reduce side effects; and spiritual support.
had always been extremely active.
Married with two children, she
had a full-time job.
She also was finishing her master's degree and was a fitness instructor at night, teaching Zumba classes at her local YMCA.
doctors encouraged her
to continue her
stay at CTCA
, the hospital provided Heather
with a conference room where she
could teach Zumba to any patients, caregivers, and employees who wished to sign up.
insisted the classes be free, and she
offered them twice a week.
"This was my opportunity to give back," says Heather
"We had between 20 and 30 people per class.
The age range was huge-people in their 20s to 70s."
slowed down some of the fast-paced music that is the basis of Zumba.
class loved it.
"We would get tickled, laugh and cutup in class," she
broke the mold.
showed you can do it, and it makes a difference."
"One lady told me she
felt so much better for being in my class, and she
had so much more energy," says Heather
"All the laughter and dance lifted her
Dr. Randolph says the hospital staff who participated in the classes formed a bond with Heather
"Teaching the Zumba classes gave me something else to focus on rather than what I was going through," says Heather
"It's all about attitude.
- Heather Holladay
While undergoing cancer treatment herself, fitness instructor Heather Holladay offered free Zumba classes to other patients, caregivers and hospital employees as a way of giving back.