My name is Caris Hedd Bowen. I'm a 26-year-old proud cancer survivor and I live in a small town called Llanelli in South Wales. I'm a 'super mum' of two incredible little boys. I'd like to think that I'm the most driven assistant gym manager in the world and currently owning it at Snap Fitness gym in Llanelli. I'm also a level 2 WRU rugby referee and have my own welsh cooking Vlogs where I set out to inspire Wales and the world with my positive mental attitude and healthy lifestyle. I live for my sons and my aim in life is to make them as proud of me as I am of them. Weight lifting is a huge part of my life and my goal is to introduce sports, health and fitness to my community.
I'm known to be the life and soul of my workplace and anywhere I go. Life is for living to the fullest and being as kind and helpful to the world as I can possibly be. I am a great believer that if you are good to the planet, it will be good to you!!
Ok, so now to inspire you and let you in on why I have this incredibly positive outlook on life... 5 years ago, at the age of 21, I was diagnosed with Cancer; Hodgkin's Lymphoma stage 2. I was quite unwell for a while before my diagnosis but the day me and my family were told was the day my big fight began.
I endured months of chemotherapy that made me extremely unwell. I would spend days in my own company in my home asking the same question over and over again. The Question I would repeat out loud was “why did this happen to me? Why, why, why?”.
I would think why was I being put through so much pain. One thing that a serious illness like this can do is take who you are as a person, but I was fully aware of this as I could feel myself deteriorating daily.
Did I allow it to destroy my soul? Of course not! I can remember the day I felt at my lowest. Family were visiting and instead of resting through a difficult day, I got up, put my dog on the lead and headed out on a walk. As much as my mind wanted to walk 100 miles, my body just wouldn't allow it. I soon called for help and returned home to be given the old 'I told you so' telling off by my family. I may have failed the walk, but it was that day that I found my incredible inner strength! As difficult as that part of my life may have been, I wouldn't change it for the world. The drive I have to succeed in anything I do today is all down to the fight that year. So, here's a message from me to Cancer... up yours! I made it and thanks to you, I am unstoppable!
A few months after feeling well again and being given the all clear, I decided to start coaching and refereeing the youngest age group at my local rugby club. This was a voluntary roll that I played twice a week for a few years. When most people my age were out drinking and having fun with friends on Friday nights and wasting their Sunday mornings in bed, I was getting my rugby gear on and heading down to the rugby pitch in all weather conditions to help a group of young children learn this incredible sport and help them grow confidence game by game.
On one rainy Sunday morning whilst refereeing the children, I was spotted and scouted to referee higher age groups, and the dream began to referee internationally. Along with my rugby career, I started running as it was a huge progression to failing on that infamous dog walk.
Whilst running up to my local town, I found a small gym run by a local legend Dave Morgan, and my love for weight lifting was born! Every morning after taking my sons to school I would spend hours of my remission days researching training plans and setting new goals. What I mean by goals is progressing in lifting some seriously heavy weights!
After months of weight lifting and taking part in fitness classes, my physique really began to change. The beauty of this is that it was all down to my brain. It was my mental strength that got me to my goals. I was then crazy enough to agree to do a 400-mile cycle for a local charity in four days shared with an amazing group of people who had a similar mental capability of achieving what some people would call 'impossible'. I noticed by sharing my positive outlook publicly on social media and writing a weekly blog in my local paper called ‘Kicking Cancer's Butt’ that I began to inspire the world with my outlook on life.
After years of training in my local gym I decided to sign up on a membership in a larger gym up town to spread my wings. Being the happy, caring and motivational person that I am, I was always helping new members feel at home at the gym, I made the decision to make it a more permanent part of my life! I qualified as a fitness instructor and after volunteering for a short time at the gym, I was promoted to assistant club manager! I had been given an incredible opportunity and with my natural leadership role I was determined to be the best at my job.
''To achieve greatness you must believe to achieve the impossible. If you doubt yourself then I can guarantee you will struggle to succeed. I have learned so many lessons during my struggles in life. And as difficult as they were at the time, I am nothing but grateful for every single one of them. I had a big dream. But thanks to me they are all becoming a reality!''
Later this year I will be competing on stage to celebrate 5 years of being cured of Cancer. After putting 100% in to that, I will then move on to taking part in powerlifting competitions, because remember, it’s through lifting ridiculously heavy weights that got me my physique in the first place! The big dream is to own my very own gym. A place where my community will feel at home and make their dreams a reality. Remember, you have to believe to achieve!
It has taken 5 years for my questions to be answered, but I finally have the answers. I see the world through different eyes. I appreciate life and I live in the name of those who didn’t survive. I am healthy. I am strong. And I will succeed to make my dreams a reality!
Big love from Wales
Miss B! X
Follow Caris on Instagram, right here!
Have you got a story you want to share? Comment below with your photo and story with a chance to be featured on our Instagram story for Gymshark Fam Friday!