Local breast cancer survivor and business owner JoeEtta McAdam is doing her part to help others fighting the disease by raising funds for Barbells for Boobs – a nonprofit seeking “to redefine the standard of care in breast health and improve quality of life post diagnosis.”

Local breast cancer survivor and business owner JoeEtta McAdam is doing her part to help others fighting the disease during Breast Cancer Awareness Month by raising funds for Barbells for Boobs – a nonprofit on a mission “to redefine the standard of care in breast health and improve quality of life post diagnosis.”

McAdam grew up in Dunsmuir and graduated from Yreka High School in 1998 before moving away for college. She returned to Siskiyou County a year and a half ago and now co-owns Level Up Studio in Yreka with her husband, Beau McAdam. Level Up has been offering special donation-based classes since the beginning of October to raise money for Barbells for Boobs. There is one class left.

On Oct. 18 McAdam, instructor/personal trainer Sarah Coakley and massage therapist Freeland Williams gave a lecture covering multiple topics, including how exercise can benefit breast cancer patients and how breast cancer fighters can use different exercises to their benefit based on their specific needs. Freeland also discussed the benefits of massage for those fighting the disease.

The last class to raise money for BFB will take place at Level Up this Friday, Oct. 25 at 6:30 p.m. McAdam will teach a Bodypump class. The class uses light to moderate weight barbells with a lot of repetition to achieve a total body workout. There is not a minimum donation required to participate in the fundraising classes. Participants can sign up online at levelupyreka.com or simply show up for the class.

McAdam’s experience with breast cancer was particularly harrowing, as she was diagnosed in her 20s when she was pregnant with her second child. She was told that she had only a three percent chance of survival, as the particular cancer she had was both rare and aggressive.

After delivering her second child early after seven months of pregnancy, McAdam began receiving chemotherapy at Stanford University Medical Center. During that time, she began studying to obtain her national fitness certification from her chemo chair.

“I wanted what I went through to make a change and a difference in someone else’s life,” she explained. Of her fight with cancer, she reflected, “When you’re going through that at 27 with two kids, you have to find the silver lining.” Studying for her fitness certification gave McAdam a new perspective. “It was like, ‘Okay, there’s something positive I can do with that,'” she said.

She earned her national certification from the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and started teaching classes in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2009.

A year and a half after she was first cleared of cancer thanks to chemotherapy and a focus on exercise and nutrition, the cancer returned. The second time around, McAdam opted to undergo a double mastectomy. She’s now been cancer-free for nine years.

Because exercise helped her through her own bouts with cancer, McAdam said when she heard about Barbells for Boobs she connected with its mission. "I was like, 'Weightlifting instead of walking? That’s right up my alley.''"She began fundraising for BFB five years ago. The nonprofit sponsors people undergoing breast cancer treatment with gym memberships. “It’s giving the gift of fitness,” McAdam explained.

BFB also runs a training program for exercise oncology, which teaches instructors to work with people who are in treatment for breast cancer or are post treatment.

McAdam is passionate about the positive affect exercise can have on patients with cancer. “It’s well known that fitness, healthy body composition and nutrition will help reduce cancer risk. The fitter you are going into diagnosis, the less of a toxicity load on your body and the stronger you’ll be through treatment,” she explained.

She has recently been reading about research on the effect exercise can have on cancerous tumors. Such tumor don’t have good vasculature and so there is not much blood flow to the tumor. That means when a cancer patient gets chemo, only a part of the tumor is actually receiving the chemo. However, exercise creates more vasculature in the tumor, McAdam said, which means chemo can get into the tumor more effectively. Exercise creates a greater number of perfused blood vessels, so there is potential to increase the delivery of chemo to where it’s needed. McAdam described that when tumors have more veins and blood supply running through them, there is a greater chance of arresting the tumor’s growth.

McAdam specified that the studies showing these findings have so far only been conducted in mice. Still, the results are promising and show that exercise alone is as effective as chemo in reducing tumor volume, she stated, adding that exercise in addition to chemo is even more effective.

That research is some of what McAdam discussed during the Oct. 18 lecture at Level Up. One hundred percent of the proceeds from Level Up’s donation-based classes on Oct. 18 and 25 – as well as two others that were held on Oct. 4 and 11 – will go to Barbells for Boobs to help breast cancer patients gain access to fitness classes which can increase the effectiveness of their treatment and help them lead healthier, happier lives overall. Level Up is also selling $20 t shirts with the Level Up logo in pink to promote breast cancer awareness. Five dollars from the sale of each shirt will go to BFB as well.

Level Up Studio is located at 321 W. Miner Street in Yreka. For more information, visit levelupyreka.com, the Level Up Yreka Facebook page, or call the studio at (530) 598-3979.