Kalyn Blacklock is one of the most upbeat and energetic people you'll ever meet. Doctors gave her a grim diagnosis but Kalyn didn't let the news get her down. Instead she took to the gym and made one of her dreams come true: to body build competitively.
Kalyn takes her training very seriously and just by looking at her you would never know doctors told her that she wouldn't live past Christmas.
"On the outside I look fabulous on the inside not so much," she says.
It all started about nine years ago.
Kalyn's son was five-months-old when Kalyn collapsed and lost mobility from her waist down. Doctors told her it was hormones and that she would be fine but things didn't get better.
"It was just getting worse. Really bad headaches, a lot of blurry vision, slurring, unable to swallow. Just a multitude of issues," Kalyn says.
A scan revealed she had a Chiari malformation. It's a condition where the brain is herniated or squeezed into the spinal canal. It can cause brain damage, loss of motor skills and some memory loss. Kalyn had a a surgery which removed part of the skull by the vertebra to make room for herniation but there was no way to reverse the disease.
"They said that I would never be able to walk again. I had to learn to speak. I had to learn to swallow. I lost lots of memory. I lost a lot of long term memory. I didn't remember child birth," Kalyn says.
That alone would be hard enough to deal with but the bad news didn't end there.
About three years ago, Kalyn was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After rounds of chemo and radiation, she had a full hysterectomy. Shortly after, Kalyn's life took another turn.
"I had been in remission for 28 days before I got a call from the doctor (who) told me I had full blown Hodgkin's lymphoma Stage 4," Kalyn says.
It was the last straw. Kalyn decided to make a bucket list and one of the items was to be on stage as a body builder. Many told her she couldn't do it but she didn't listen.
"My concept was basically, watch me. So I did it to prove a lot of people wrong," Kalyn says.
(See Kalyn during one of her competitions here)
Kalyn's doctor says what makes Kalyn so special is her mind set.
Dr. Benjamin Spitzenberger says, "It doesn't matter what's thrown at her. She is extremely positive and optimistic (and) recognizes what reality is but is willing to keep on taking those steps forward."
Kalyn's son is much older now but she makes sure to include him with her health issues.
"He's really proud of me and he brags about me, says my mom is strong and she's doing this. And he knows that I'm dying and he says ... she's survived this long and she lives more of a life than most people I know," Kalyn says.
Kalyn's memory and motor skills will get worse with time. But until then, Kalyn is living life on her terms and hopes others, with or without medical issues, take her lead.
Kalyn says, "You can do anything that you want to do, and don't stress over things you have no control over."
Kalyn started the Chiari Warriors Foundation for those who also suffer from Chiari malformation. There's also has a GoFundMe page that's been started to help raise money for Kalyn to pay off medical debt and continue getting the treatment she needs.
Get more information about the Chiari Warriors Foundation here.
If you'd like to help, you can go to the GoFundMe page here.