At the age of 29, Miami Twp. resident Megghan Shroyer is a true survivor. “In 2009 when my daughter was just a few months old, I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” she said. “I decided at that point to have genetic testing done since I have a strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer.”
Shroyer was given the news that she tested positive for the BRCA 1 mutation - which meant she had an 87 percent increased risk for developing breast cancer and 57 percent risk of developing ovarian cancer. She began treatment for her cancer and decided then that she would have preventative surgeries including a hysterectomy and a double mastectomy, to lower her already increased risk of developing more cancer.
“My husband and I wanted more children, so I delayed the surgeries until we had our son in 2011,” Shroyer said. “When my son was five months old, I had my mastectomy.”
After undergoing six surgeries related to breasts — a double mastectomy and several reconstructive surgeries, Shroyer took some time to recover, but said she knew she wanted to help lower her risk of developing ovarian cancer. “I had a complete hysterectomy in 2012, which put me into surgical menopause.”
At just 28 years old, Shroyer was not just facing menopause, but all the symptoms that sometimes come with it, including depression, weight gain and lethargy. “I knew once I was finished with my surgeries that I wanted to change my body,” she said. “And I knew it was going to be harder for me to lose weight once I was in menopause.”
Shroyer admitted she didn’t know where to begin, but knew she wanted to live a healthier lifestyle, which included exercise and an improved diet. “I logged on to bodybuilding.com and looked around,” she said. “I found some clean eating programs and learned about what was OK to eat — higher in protein and not much fat or sugar.” Shroyer started following a different diet and got a new gym membership.
“Once I started losing weight and building muscle, I thought about setting a goal of entering a bikini competition,” she said. “I’ve had a lifelong passion for fitness and had gym memberships since I was 14 years old. I wanted to do something that I could look back on and be proud.”
Shroyer started her program at 146 pounds and 26 percent body fat in June of 2012. “It took about a year, but I got down to 112 pounds and 15 percent body fat,” she said. “I did this through clean eating and exercise, which was 10% percent cardio and 90 percent weight training.”
Finding an easy to use 12-week program that was free online, Shroyer worked through the first few months on her own, and then hired a personal trainer to help her reach her goals. “I followed the Jamie Eason Live Fit training program,” Shroyer said. “It’s different in that the first four weeks there is no cardio at all because you need to build muscle first. The more muscle your body has, the more fat it will burn at rest, and I learned that at the start of the program.”
After working hard for nearly a year, Shroyer was ready for the bikini competition, held at the Dayton Convention Center in early June of this year.
I had a really good experience, though I didn’t place well,” Shroyer said. “I was proud of the way I presented and it was just a neat feeling to be on stage, knowing I had overcome so many things.”
Shroyer’s friend and personal trainer, Megan Behr of Beavercreek, regularly competes in these types of competitions and encouraged her to get a network of people to support her efforts. “I wanted to partner with Megan to create an online support group to inspire other people who had questions about general health and wellness and to motivate them to overcome challenges and stay active, Shroyer said.”
Be Always Determined, Shroyer’s Facebook page dedicated to fitness, was born of this partnership with Behr. “We launched the Facebook page in February of this year, so it was before the competition and about halfway through my year of transformation,” Shroyer said. “There have been a lot of people sharing weight loss stories on the page and others comment and support one another. I also have a huge following of BRCA women so I post about that and encourage them to stay healthy and fit.”
Shroyer’s fan base is growing and many are motivated by her story not to allow early menopause to negatively affect her life. “I looked up menopause online, and there are so many negative things tied to this, including potential bone and memory loss and diminished quality of life,” Shroyer said. “I tell people it doesn’t have to be all downhill after menopause.”
Today Shroyer remains a busy young mother of two young children and said she is very comfortable with who she is. She takes a low dose of estrogen but tries to avoid taking too many other hormones. “I’ve learned a lot in the past year and though I don’t necessarily want to do another bikini competition. I really just want to enjoy life with my family.”
Shroyer works out five days a week now and continues to focus on building muscle and eating healthy. “The No. 1 thing that got me through everything was maintaining a positive attitude and being realistic about what I wanted to accomplish,” she said. “I knew there was never going to be a better time in my life to make these goals happen and there was no one stopping me. I did what I did because I knew there would be nothing worse than getting ovarian cancer and dying and leaving my family behind.”
“You can’t hate yourself healthy.
You can hate yourself thin
You can hate yourself fat.
But healthy is a place you have to get to with love”
From Be Always Determined - www.facebook.com/BeAlwaysDetermined