Conquering Cancer & Kicking Ass: Cheyann Shaw

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“Women Who Work” is a series that celebrates the millennial woman who is breaking barriers for women, excelling in business, contributing to her community and industry in a big way, and setting the example for other women to go out in the world and kick-ass. If you or someone you know fits this description, feel free to reach out for a feature!

Cheyann Shaw was just like every other 23-year-old woman. She was planning her wedding to her boyfriend of 6 years, lived an active lifestyle, and had even begun competing in female body competitions. Then six weeks before her wedding, she heard the words that would change the trajectory of her whole life- “You have cancer.” Not only did Cheyann have cancer, bust she had stage 4 low-grade serous ovarian cancer, a rare and slow-growing but stubborn strain that can be resistant to chemotherapy treatments. When doctors went to perform surgery to remove the cancer via complete hysterectomy, they found that she also had cancer in her appendix, spleen and part of her colon, lymph nodes, along with a tumor from her abdomen that was the size of a small beach ball. Instead of curling up into a little ball and feeling defeated, the bodybuilder has documented the high’s and low’s of having cancer via social media sites like Instagram and Youtube and has become an inspiration to women battling ovarian cancer everywhere. Learn more about this incredible woman below:

The Basics

I can't get over how good these pictures and our family pictures turned out! Thank you so much @myinfinitemoments_photography I love them all💙💙 – – Some more exciting news! I'm going to be on @komo4 tonight at 5pm! It's amazing how much my story and journey thru this battle has touched so many people. My journey is being told by so many people and I'm very blessed for that. I want there to be more awareness for not only Ovarian Cancer, but other types of cancer. If something doesn't feel right, go get checked; it could save your life💪🏻💕 – – #fuckcancer #ovariancancer #seattleseahawks #bestself #selflove #npc #npcbikini #ifbb #npccompetitor #bikini #bikinicompetitor #bikinifitness #bikiniathlete #fitlife #fitspo #fitlife #follow #inspiration #happiness #womensfitness #womenshealth #motivation #squat #squatspo #country #countrymusic #countrygirl #smile #godisnotdead

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Name: Cheyann Shaw

Hometown: Bonney Lake, Wa Current City: Maple Valley, Wa Year Born: 1993 Hobbies: Working out, basketball, walking my dog, filming.  

Cheyann’s Story

What is your personal motto?

“Never give up.”

What three women do you admire the most and why?

My Nana: She is so sweet and see’s the best in everyone and every situation.

My Mom: She has overcome so much and has worked hard to be where she is today.
Ronda Rousey: No matter how hard she gets hit, she always gets right back up and keeps fighting. 

What initially drew you to bodybuilding and fitness? I started to workout a lot and liked how I could see my body changing. I also went to a fitness expo one year and that is how competing was introduced to me. I loved everyone was so confident and seeing everyone’s hard work motivated me to get back in the gym and to step on stage. 

Why do you think it’s important for women to actively pursue fitness besides the obvious health benefits? 

I think it is important for women to get into fitness because it is good to better yourself. We all can better ourselves, and the gym can help physically and mentally. The gym is the best place to go to relieve stress and for “me” time. 

At the age of 23 and just six weeks before your wedding, you found out you had stage 4 low-grade serous ovarian cancer, a rare and slow-growing but stubborn strain that can be resistant to chemotherapy treatments. Besides the initial shock, what was your first thought?

"For with God, nothing shall be impossible" •Luke 1:37 – – Today, August 3rd,2016 is the day that has changed my life for the moment. I found out today that I have been diagnosed with cancer. At this time we are unsure what kind of cancer we are dealing with, but should know shortly. Once we figure it out, that is when I will start chemo and get the cancer removed surgically once it gets smaller. – – I never in a million years thought this would happen to me, especially since I am only 23, but I know I will win this battle. – – I truly believe that God sent me to the ER so we could catch this early. God works in mysteries ways and I know he will be my strength while myself, my fiancé, my family, and my friends go through this. I would be lying if I told you I wasn't scared, because I'm scared shitless. – – I will not let cancer win tho. My spirit is not going to dim and I am going to live my life and fight this battle. I want to thank everyone for the well wishes while I was undergoing surgery. It means the world to me. – – Whether you believe in God or praise a different God, I just ask that you send positive vibes my way and pray for me and my family❤️ – – Now it's my time to fight, fight for my life, and let me tell you; cancer has fucked with the wrong person💪🏻🖕🏻 – – #teamcheyann #fuckcancer #cancersucks #iwillwin #npc #bestself #selflove #bodypositive #fitness #fitfam #fitspo #motivation #summer #love #godisgood #god #godismystrength

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My first thought was this is a joke right? But once reality hit me that this was not a joke, I realized that I was going to be okay. I wasn’t going to let cancer win, so I got in the ring with my gloves on and was ready to knock cancer out.

How has having cancer impacted your views about health and fitness if at all? 

Cancer hasn’t changed my views on health and fitness. I always knew being active and healthy will always benefit me, and I was right. I have a better chance at beating this because I lived a healthy and active lifestyle. My body responds/recovers quicker because of this.

You’ve been so candid about your journey through your Instagram and Youtube accounts. You even documented the heart-wrenching moment you shaved your head. Why do you think being authentic and showing uglier moments is so important? 

I wanted to show people the good, the bad, and the ugly thru my journey. I wanted to show people that no matter what obstacles you face in life, doesn’t mean you give up, it means you stand up and face that full obstacle force and kick it’s butt. I wanted to show the real reality of cancer and that you never stop living and always keep your faith.

Despite the fact that patients who are in the advanced stages of ovarian cancer have a  five-year survival rate that is between 30 and 50 percent you have refused to bow down to cancer to stop living your life and have remained inspiringly optimistic and confident. What do you attribute to being able to stay so strong?

I can be so strong because of my faith. When I was diagnosed, my faith is what told me I would be okay and I feel that every morning when I get up.

Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system, but it accounts for only about 3 percent of all cancers in women. What advice do you have for other women who are just starting their journey with ovarian cancer?

My advice is never to give up. Statistics are scary, but I tell myself that I will not be that statistic. I will be apart of the statistic of survivors. Never stop being positive, because the mental aspect is the most important part.

How do you feel about being considered an inspiration to people, but more specifically women all over the world? I am still in shock at how much my story has blown up. I have been called an inspiration from men, women, young adults, and even the elderly and it makes me smile. I just want to be able to help people whether they have cancer or not. 

What are your biggest goals and aspirations for post-cancer life?

My biggest goals and aspirations for my post-cancer life is to start a family. My husband and I want to settle down, buy a house, and start the family that we have always wanted. I was also thinking about public speaking and maybe write a book, but that is still up in the air because family is the most important.

Connect with Cheyann and learn more about her via social media:

Youtube, Instagram


Statistics Sources:


About Chloe

Chloe is a San Antonio, TX native who loves margaritas and brunch almost as much as she loves reading a good book and a catching up on Empire. Learn more about Just a Girl in This World, click on the "About" tab in the main menu.