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Cancer survivor turns to strength training for solace

A brave cancer survivor who escaped an abusive relationship and was homeless for two months has reclaimed her strength through sports and can now deadlift more than 400 pounds.

Fashion assistant manager Julia Hamilton, 29, grew up with her single mother, who has always been her biggest supporter.

At the age of 18, Julia, who is from Texas, entered into an abusive relationship that forced her to run away from her partner a year later, despite having nowhere to live. 

 

Resilience: Julia Hamilton, 29, found her passion for strength training after surviving cervical cancer and escaping an abusive relationship

Upbringing: The fashion assistant manager, from Texas, grew up with her single mother, who has always been her biggest supporter

Upbringing: The fashion assistant manager, from Texas, grew up with her single mother, who has always been her biggest supporter

Ordeal: At the age of 18, Julia, who is from Texas, entered into an abusive relationship that forced her to run away from her partner a year later, despite having nowhere to live

Ordeal: At the age of 18, Julia, who is from Texas, entered into an abusive relationship that forced her to run away from her partner a year later, despite having nowhere to live

‘The abusive relationship started when I was eighteen until I was nineteen. He was horrible to me. He was abusive in every way possible; physically, verbally, emotionally, and sexually,’ Julia said of her former partner.

‘He tried his damnedest to break me. I ended up homeless because I had to get away from him no matter the cost. I couldn’t move in with my mom at the time because her living situation did not allow it.

‘So, I slept in my car for a while and then when family friends found out they let me stay on the couch for a week.

‘My mom ended up getting both of us an apartment. I couldn’t get my own because the relationship had also cost me my job as well. I was out of a home for about two months. 

Just before she left her boyfriend, Julia was told by her doctors that she was at the early stages of cervical cancer, a type of cancer that develops in a woman’s cervix (the entrance to the womb from the vagina).

‘It shattered my whole world,’ she said of the diagnosis. ‘Being so young I felt like a huge part of my life was over.’

Diagnosis: Just before she left her boyfriend, Julia was told by her doctors that she was at the early stages of cervical cancer

Diagnosis: Just before she left her boyfriend, Julia was told by her doctors that she was at the early stages of cervical cancer

Struggling: 'It shattered my whole world,' Julia said of the diagnosis. 'Being so young I felt like a huge part of my life was over'

Diagnosis: Cervical cancer, which Julia had, is a type of cancer that develops in a woman's cervix (the entrance to the womb from the vagina)

Struggling: ‘It shattered my whole world,’ Julia said of the diagnosis. ‘Being so young I felt like a huge part of my life was over’

Tests: For a year, Julia had to get biopsies, which she remembers as being 'extremely painful', every three months. She then had them every six months for two years

Tests: For a year, Julia had to get biopsies, which she remembers as being ‘extremely painful’, every three months. She then had them every six months for two years

Strong: 'My reason for getting involved in strength sports was that it helped me find strength when I was at my weakest,' she said

Helping: Strength training was a way for Julia (pictured with her current boyfriend) to feel stronger 'not just physically but emotionally, mentally, spiritually'

Strong: ‘My reason for getting involved in strength sports was that it helped me find strength when I was at my weakest,’ Julia (pictured right with her current boyfriend) said

Around 13,240 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the US in 2018, according to the American Cancer Society, and around 4,170 women will die from the illness.

While women of all ages are likely to develop the cancer, it mainly affects sexually active women between the ages of 35 and 44.

The disease rarely develops in women younger than 20, but more than 15 per cent of cases are diagnosed in women who are older than 65. Getting regular tests to detect pre-cancerous cells is a proven way to prevent cervical cancer.

 Feeling strong brought a new perspective to my life

For a year, Julia had to get biopsies, which she remembers as being ‘extremely painful’, every three months. She then had them every six months for two years. 

In the face of adversity, Julia became interested in strength training. 

‘My reason for getting involved in strength sports was that it helped me find strength when I was at my weakest. Not just physically but emotionally, mentally, spiritually,’ she said.

‘It has brought a complete growth and transformation for me. Feeling strong brought a new perspective to my life.’

Julia has now been lifting for four years, and she works out at least five times a week. She can now squat lift 465 pounds, bench press just more than 224 pounds, deadlift 405 pounds, and carry a 650-pound weight over her shoulders for a distance of 50 feet. 

‘You’re constantly challenging and surprising yourself. It’s incredibly empowering,’ she said her her sport. ‘Not to mention the muscle tone is pretty wonderful. I want to be the world’s strongest woman, nothing less.

‘It has been a huge struggle the last couple years, especially in terms of training. But I’m an overcomer and I’ve worked really hard to get myself into a balanced place right now.’ 

Work: Julia has now been lifting for four years,and she works out at least five times a week. She can now squat lift 465 pounds, bench press just more than 224 pounds, deadlift 405 pounds

Work: Julia has now been lifting for four years,and she works out at least five times a week. She can now squat lift 465 pounds, bench press just more than 224 pounds, deadlift 405 pounds

Feedback: For the most part Julia, who also shares her accomplishments with 52,800 Instagram followers, says she has received mainly 'good' reactions at the gym, including 'shock and awe'

Duo: 'The love of my life was actually the one who got me to start lifting and he has supported me ever since,' Julia (pictured right with her boyfriend) said

Duo: ‘The love of my life was actually the one who got me to start lifting and he has supported me ever since,’ Julia (pictured right with her boyfriend) said

When Julia started strength training, she had to cope with being stared at while at the gym, and handle comments about her strong body.

‘Love hasn’t been hard. Men are the ones that often have something to say or some weird fetish about it though. Many guys just seem shocked, or impressed,’ she said.

‘I often get the “You can easily beat me up”, or “It both scares me and turns me on that you can lift more than me.” But that just comes back to the ego that society breeds into men, that they have to be the stronger of the pair.

‘The love of my life was actually the one who got me to start lifting and he has supported me ever since. The thing I have found is that strength attracts strength.

‘I had to get used to people watching me. It used to make me so uncomfortable, but I’ve gotten practice now at tuning it out and focusing.’

For the most part, though, Julia, who also shares her accomplishments with 52,800 Instagram followers, says she has received mainly ‘good’ reactions at the gym, including ‘shock and awe’. 

‘It’s really none of my business what others are thinking about me in the gym, I’m there to put in work. There is always some sense of negativity, it mostly comes out on social media,’ she said.

‘Social media otherwise has been incredible. The amount of people that show love and support and find inspiration in me leaves me completely speechless.

‘Don’t hesitate on starting. Starting can be scary, but the longer you hold off the longer you are holding yourself back.’



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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