When Chris Pearce found a grapefruit-sized tumor, it triggered a plethora of health issues. Against the odds, he went on to become a pro competitor.
Q. What were your health issues?
From 2012 to 2014 I had three major health problems.
The first was a pelvic tumor the size of a grapefruit which compressed the nerves down my right leg and discs in my back.
The tumor itself caused so much pain it was exhausting. Once it was removed, I lost some function in my right leg and suffered permanent damage to my spinal discs.
I was left with extensive internal scar tissue and scarring on my stomach.
This started a domino effect and the scarring from surgery closed my intestine, leading to my small bowels being obstructed.
I was fed with a drip and had a tube up my nose to remove bile from my stomach until I had corrective surgery.
I was then diagnosed with lung cancer, which was maybe due to my pelvic cancer traveling up.
I needed two surgeries and lost half of my left lung. This left me coughing up blood, struggling to breathe and more scar tissue on my back.
Q. What challenges were you presented with initially?
As a result of my surgeries, I experienced weight gain and weight loss, reduced mobility, morphine addiction, bowel issues, recovery and physiotherapy, to name a few.
Training was difficult due to the lack of mobility in my right leg and permanent back damage. But i’ve modified my training to work around injuries now.
Mentally, it was traumatic having cancer at 30. I had a lot of anxiety and fear about dying young, getting ill and undergoing more medical procedures.
Also, the scarring on my body took some getting used to.
Q. What made you start training after your health scares?
I’ve been into fitness since i was 16. I was in great shape in my 20s, but after my last surgery, I was determined to fully embrace fitness and push it to new levels.
I wanted to overcome all my problems to look and feel good. I competed at Pure Elite and raised over £800 for a cancer charity in the process.
Since taking part in a show in April 2016, I’ve been training towards new physique shows. This has contributed to my ability to overcome illness.
Q. How did you adapt your diet for this transformation?
My diet has never been affected by my health. It was just relearning the discipline and structure of eating for my goals.
I’m currently on a show prep diet, reducing my weight and body fat to compete. I eat six meals a day consisting of high protein, carbs, vitamins, minerals and lots of water.
No fad diets, just nutritious food with a cheat meal once a week. I have a job where I can eat regularly, which is useful. I eat five meals a day, every four hours.
Q. What motivates you to keep training?
I am currently four years in remission.
I see training and dieting as a way to ensure if the worst happens and I relapse with cancer, I will be ready to fight it unrelentingly.
Doing so well in my previous two competitions keeps me motivated. I just love bettering, and seeing how far I can push myself.
It’s motivating being a role model and inspiration to other people who are overcoming an illness or injury.
I’m also a father to a five-year old daughter who I want to stay healthy for.
Q. What are your future goals?
I earned my Pure Elite Pro card in 2016 and my coach, Lee Jones has helped me for free for over three years, which I’m grateful for. Now I want to compete at Pure Elite in a new category.
I’m not saying I’ll win, but I want to earn my place on stage through hard work and determination. I’ll compete at the Pure Elite World Finals in November after that. I thrive on challenging myself.
Lungs are the most common site for cancer cells to metastasize (travel and settle)
Percentage that lung cancer is of total cancer cases