Halfway through the 2016 CrossFit Open, Anthony Saric sat the Affiliates of CrossFit Geelong down. He didn’t want to talk about PRs, or how he could RX the next weekly workout. Instead, Saric shared he had Stage 3 rectal cancer.
But Saric wanted to keep training. His doctors and co-owner Corrine Chalmers were OK with that.
“He is only in Week Three of Chemo. He has just begun radiation and that is starting to make him very tired. He has cut down his training to three times a week, and trains hard on his good days and does less when he is feeling tired,” said Chalmers. “As the treatment kicks in, his level of training will lessen when it needs too. His doctors have explained deprivation of oxygen is exactly what he needs to help stop the cancer growth — it helps to slow it down.”
At 35-years-old, doctors were surprised Saric had this type of cancer, especially because “he takes such wonderful care of himself,” according to Chalmers. But his father is a Vietnam veteran who handled Agent Orange, an herbicide that was sprayed to destroy crops in order to better hide the U.S. military. Years later, it was discovered this particular herbicide was tainted with tetrachlorodibenzon, a chemical compound linked to various cancers. Saric’s doctors believe he inherited the gene from his dad.
“After speaking with Anthony, we realize[d] that there is so much that goes with having cancer most people are aware of. Life doesn’t stop — kids need to be clothed, fed and dropped off to sports. Dad needs to keep working to pay for normal living costs — none of this stops because of him having cancer. We felt that being so young and having dependents that he could use the help a lot,” said Chalmers.
She and her husband —the other owner of the Box — set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the cost of Saric’s medical treatments. They explained that with the cancer already in a “frightening” stage, there was not much time for him to prepare financially.
Not only has the Box’s community supported Saric emotionally, but after 40 days of the GoFundMe Page taking donations, they have raised $18,000 from CrossFit Geelong’s members, and Saric’s family, friends and colleagues.
“You can’t help everyone, but if we all help one person, then everyone gets help, right? Later in the year, Anthony will be undergoing some serious surgery that will result in him wearing a bag. He will need some more time off work and we are hoping the money raised will help him a lot during this time,” said Chalmers, “We are all just trying to keep his spirits high. Coming into CFG is something he needs to do to maintain some [normalcy] in his life.”
Having been with the Box for almost eight years, Chalmers explained Saric already knows the limitations he needs to take for himself during this time. The Box has three programs running in each class that caters to three different fitness levels, said Chalmers. Saric simply chooses the fitness level he is feeling that day.
Saric has already decreased his training to three days a week, and as time goes on, may have to cut back more. But overall, Chalmers and his doctors think it’s important he continues to CrossFit — for his physical and mental health. And the Affiliates will be there every step of the way.
“Let them continue training. They already have enough life changes to deal with, without also having the one thing they love to do also be removed. Help them to listen to their body and adjust the load according with less focus on weight and more focus on moving and enjoying the exercise and community spirit,” said Chalmers.