Karris Littlepage uses fitness to fight cancer
Karris Littlepage, age 45, makes diet and exercise a huge part of her life. "I used to believe that good nutrition and regular workouts would prevent disease," she said. "But then came my diagnosis."
Karris lives in Frisco, Texas, with her husband Cory and three daughters: Reese, age 14, Brooke, 12, and Allie, 9. She’s also been living with breast cancer since 2016.
"All I have is today," says Karris, with the positive attitude that pervades all facets of her life. "God gave my family the strength to get through this," she said. "Plus, we have an army of prayer warriors fighting with us."
A seed of wellness
Karris was raised by a single mother in Odessa, Texas, and attended Permian High School, which gained fame through the movie Friday Night Lights. "My childhood makes me appreciate that we can now afford to eat healthy and go to the gym," she said. "Cory and I are planting the seed of wellness in our girls, and hope it will stick with them."
Growing up, Karris played the piano and was active in dance, cheerleading, tennis, and track. She earned a degree in nutrition and dietetics at Texas Christian University and remains committed to a healthy lifestyle.
"Diet and exercise help me tolerate my cancer treatments and boost my recovery. Exercise is my drug of choice," she admits. "It plays a huge role in developing a positive outlook, which is the most important thing for me right now."
An encounter with cancer
Karris had just turned 40 when she felt a lump in her left breast. She went for her first mammogram, which showed three tumors and aggressive cancer. "It was July 13, 2016, and I started on a rollercoaster of MRIs, biopsies, oncologists, and surgeons," she said.
Over the next year she received chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, breast reconstruction, radiation therapy, and eventually a full hysterectomy, to stop her body from producing the hormone estrogen, which is associated with a greater risk of cancer.
She recovered slowly, battling fatigue, and continuing her prayers, diet, and exercise. "It was hard, brutal on my family," Karris said. "Some days I just wanted to go back to bed. But we keep fighting. And every day is a gift."
Though she was feeling well by June 2018, she had a CAT scan as part of a preventive exam. It showed that the breast cancer had come back and moved to her lungs. Later, it would appear in her liver. She is now seeing research specialists at MD Anderson Cancer Center, to understand why her cancer keeps recurring. She is hoping to be part of a clinical trial for a new medication.
Either laughing or crying
In the midst of all this, Cory got Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, Karris responded, "God sure has a funny sense of humor." But she and Cory kept their spirits high, turning lab tests into date nights and laughing when the hospital staff gave them the nickname "cancer couple."
Their friends and their church members have been generous with their time and support, and Karris was grateful that her family was fed and cared for. "We had meals for six months," she said. "When others want to help you and you say yes, you are giving them a chance to glorify God by serving you."
Drinking TruLabs Hydrate
Cory is doing well, but Karris continues with her chemotherapy. "My workouts are my saving grace. They help me be my best self," she said. "My week-off the meds, I have more energy and I’m in my happy place."
Karris uses TruLabs HYDRATE every day before her workouts, which rotate among hot yoga, yoga sculpt, her Peloton bike, and weight lifting in their home gym. "Everyone in my family likes HYDRATE. It’s better for you than other electrolyte drinks," she said. "I like the lemon lime. There’s no artificial junk and it tastes good. It’s the healthiest option for me to replenish all the vitamins I lose."
"Exercise, diet, prayers, and a healthy perspective. That’s how I keep going."