In October 2010, Kelly Knight's complaints of fatigue, muscle cramping and a feeling like a lump in her throat led to an shocking discovery -- a fist-sized cancerous tumor had grown on her thyroid.
Her type of cancer is easily treatable and has a high rate of survivorship, but it changed her life nonetheless.
"You're not the same anymore," she said.
She lost her voice for nine months because of the cancer, experienced damage to the glands that help her body absorb calcium and became depressed.
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But Knight, 49, of Pasco, found a way to take back control of her body when she started doing CrossFit training at RSA CrossFit in Kennewick.
"I'm doing this because it makes me feel better. It helps me fight my disease," she said.
Knight said she always has been athletic, and loves sports and exercise. She started doing CrossFit in October and said she and her doctors both have noticed a difference. In particular, Knight has been able to cut the dosage of her calcium supplement by half.
She also feels generally better about life.
"For me, it was more of a confidence builder," she said. "For everybody there's something -- something that keeps you from feeling alone or depressed."
CrossFit is a high-intensity strength-training program that bases exercise on the body's natural movement, said Joey Sanchez, co-owner of RSA CrossFit.
"It's movements like you would do picking up a baby or putting something on a shelf," he said.
The gym offers classes a few times a day in which clients exercise as a group, doing rapid intensity stretches and lunges, gymnastics-style moves and Olympic-style weightlifting to build strength, mobility and flexibility.
It's a program that's popular among emergency responders and military personnel, according to the CrossFit website.
Minimal equipment is required, and the program is individualized so people of any ages or fitness levels can do it, Sanchez said.
In Knight's case, Sanchez said he used his experiences as a cancer survivor to help design her program.
Sanchez was diagnosed at age 15 with a synovial cell sarcoma -- a type of soft-tissue tumor most commonly seen in adolescents.
He was a football player at Richland High School when the golfball-sized tumor was discovered on his wrist and he had to undergo treatment.
"I didn't have an outlet to be a normal person and not a cancer patient," Sanchez said. "When (Knight) came in, it kind of hit home. I wanted to provide that outlet for her to feel normal."
He described Knight as "extremely inspiring" and said she has set an example for other RSA CrossFit clients with her persistence and positive attitude.
"She doesn't stop," he said.
For more information, go to www.rsacrossfit.com.