How a Cancer Survivor Trained for ‘American Ninja Warrior’ During Treatment

Liposarcoma survivor Arianne Missimer discusses the training process for ‘American Ninja Warrior’ and how she felt the day of competition.

Arianne Missimer is no stranger to obstacles. While she faced the biggest one of her life, stage 3 liposarcoma, she was also training to compete in the show “American Ninja Warrior.” The doctor of physical therapy, who is also a dietician and founder of The Movement Paradigm in Philadelphia, spent her time in treatment working through obstacle courses in the gym and eventually went on to be selected for the show in 2016.

In an interview with CURE®, Missimer describes how she took back control of her life and her body to train for the competition, despite how weak treatment made her feel.

“I was like, ‘Okay, you know what, I can do this – I'm not going to let this beat me and I don't want to just survive cancer, I want to thrive,’” Missimer remembered. “And once I made that decision, and that was truly through movement, then it was it was kind of like the ‘American Ninja Warrior’ just seemed a natural path.”

Transcription:

I think that while I was training, I felt just like every person that has a diagnosis of cancer, it's so overwhelming. And you lose complete control. And so for someone that's always been in such control of their health, I felt the same way. I felt like ‘How could this be? All I do is move.’ And so the first few weeks were really hard for me. And then I finally got to this point where I started working out with kettlebells. And I was like, ‘Okay, you know what, I can do this – I'm not going to let this beat me and I don't want to just survive cancer, I want to thrive. And once I made that decision, and that was truly through movement, then it was it was kind of like the ‘American Ninja Warrior’ just seemed a a natural path. So once I was doing training for that everything was an obstacle. So I’d literally go to the gym and work on obstacles. And it was just kind of an interesting dichotomy where I would think like, ‘Wow, I just overcame all these like little obstacles, meanwhile, I'm overcoming the biggest obstacle in my life.’ So it was actually really cool. And I think once I finished, and even though I felt like I truly was on my deathbed that last day of chemo, when I hit submit for that application, it was the best feeling in the world. I was like, ‘Yeah, I'm gonna beat this.’ And it didn't matter if I got on or not. It was just amazing to think that yeah, I trained for this the whole time I had chemo the whole time I had cancer. So it was really cool.

And then the day of the competition, I just remember standing there and trying to take it all in of I'm literally standing here with some of the best athletes in the entire country. So it was absolutely incredible. And it was – so the whole day, I mean, it's kind of an interesting thing that happens in the middle of the night. And I'm not sure that everyone knows that. So I got there probably in the morning and didn't compete until 2:30am. So the whole time you see the course but you're not practicing, you just watch a tester go through it. And during that time, I was just of course anxious, excited, all the above. But when I stood out there on the starting line, it was just the most amazing feeling ever.

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