Fitness Trainer Battles Cancer With Patience, Humor

  • Ben Dearman, co-owner of KDR Fitness, is entering his second of six months of chemotherapy for Hodgkins Lymphoma. "This is like the worst breakup you ever had coupled with the worst flu, the worst food poisoning and the worst hangover times ten," said Dearman. "You hear cancer, and you think it's a death sentence," said Dearman who wants to educate people and help them understand the disease. "Unless you have a reason to learn about it, then you don't know about it." (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Ben Dearman and Jamie Crowe are co-owners of KDR Fitness in Lebanon, N.H. Dearman is entering his second of six months of chemotherapy for Hodgkins Lymphoma. "This is like the worst breakup you ever had coupled with the worst flu, the worst food poisoning and the worst hangover times ten," said Dearman. "You hear cancer, and you think it's a death sentence," said Dearman who wants to educate people and help them understand the disease. "Unless you have a reason to learn about it, then you don't know about it." (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Ben Dearman, co-owner of KDR Fitness, is entering his second of six months of chemotherapy for Hodgkins Lymphoma. "This is like the worst breakup you ever had coupled with the worst flu, the worst food poisoning and the worst hangover times ten," said Dearman. "You hear cancer, and you think it's a death sentence," said Dearman who wants to educate people and help them understand the disease. "Unless you have a reason to learn about it, then you don't know about it." (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/9/2016 10:53:03 PM

Lebanon —– Ben Dearman is typically a patient person. Whether furthering his business, building his physique or cultivating relationships, Dearman has staunchly taken the long view throughout his adult life.

So it was unusual two weeks ago when Dearman, at his KDR Fitness facility for the first time in three months, grew noticeably frustrated at a software glitch delaying the start of a group exercise to benefit the Mascoma High wrestling team.

“I was going to lose it,” Dearman said. “I almost had to put it down and walk away.”

Dearman, 37, is more selective with how he utilizes his time these days. Since the early winter, he’s been subject to a series of tests, evaluations and eventually chemotherapy treatment, after being diagnosed in February with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Dearman has completed the first of six rounds of chemo; one round is two doses spaced 14 days apart. During the intermittent two weeks, Dearman estimates there are probably eight “bad days” and six “good days.”

The bad days can be seem really bad: persistent vomiting, incessant hiccups, general lethargy and myriad general discomforts such as acid reflux. Like anyone diagnosed with cancer, one of the Dearman’s initial thoughts was that he didn’t want to die. Yet after his first dose of chemotherapy in early March, it felt to him like he maybe already did.

“It was the love of your life breaks up with you, you lose your job, your dog dies and you have the worst hangover in the world, times 10,” Dearman said. “I might feel like that eight out of the 14 days. For the other six days, I have goals.”

Dearman is selective about how to utilize those good days, diving into well-informed research about cancer and maximizing the quality time spent with longtime girlfriend and business partner, Jamie Crowe, of Enfield, and Crowe’s 12-year-old son, Logan.

Yet Dearman still makes time for the gym, offering nutrition and exercise advice via email and the KDR Fitness blog to a growing membership base that relies on him as an authoritative voice and mentor.

Dearman also posts on a separate blog, bendearman.net, chronicling his fight and newfound discoveries about cancer and treatment side effects with a sense of humor that those who know Dearman are accustomed to.

“Why do we get hiccups? I think it has something to do with carbon dioxide build up or something bah-blah-blah-blah. Who cares?” he wrote on Friday before posting a video demonstrating how to rid oneself of them.

“Do yourself a favor: don’t get cancer,” he writes on another post, smack in the middle of the latest facts and figures he’s learned.

Dearman has also continued to produce and post workout videos — on days when he has the strength. The first time he tried to produce one post-treatment, five days after the first dose, proved to be premature.

“I realized during the drive over just how much like crap I felt,” Dearman said. “I ended up driving back home and coming back the next day. It’s definitely a ‘one day at a time’ approach, where I have a goal for one thing each day.”

Dearman sees the opportunity to educate about cancer through his blog, sharing knowledge about the differences between tissue and blood cancers and eye-opening facts, such as that cancer affects one in three people and that it causes nearly 8 million worldwide deaths each year. He’s also candid about his thoughts toward the affects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment on the body.

“It basically kills you more slowly so that cancer doesn’t kill you first,” Dearman said. “A lot of people don’t think about that. But I consider myself an educator and the blog is one way I can shed some light on cancer, what it is and how it’s treated.”

Dearman is also quick to point out that cancer is not a death sentence, although some days it feels like one. He intends to make a full recovery and the prognosis is promising.

“My particular type of cancer, Stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, has an 80 percent cure rate. I say ‘cure’ instead of ‘survivor’ because it’s one of the only cancers that (medical professionals) use the word ‘cure’ for,” Dearman said.

Dearman has embraced “radical acceptance,” a psychology term meaning to accept life on its own terms or, as a Psychology Today magazine states, “saying yes to life, just as it is.”

One of Dearman’s biggest adjustments is being thrust into a state of vulnerability after experiencing such vibrant health until a few months ago.

“Four months ago, I was thinking about dead-lifting 900 pounds, getting bigger calves and biceps and building a million-dollar business,” Dearman said. “I’ve accepted that I’m not that person right now. I’m actually going to be three different people over the next two years. The person right now, going through cancer treatment. I’ll be another person after cancer treatment is done and the third person will be after this thing is kicked and I’m fully rebuilding and recovering.”

In the meantime, Crowe has been assuming many of Dearman’s responsibilities at the gym, “essentially being two people,” as Dearman put it. With Dearman’s family residing in and around his hometown of Lewisburg, Pa., Crowe and her parents, Pam and David, have anchored a local support network that also includes friends and clients.

“It’s certainly not easy for Ben because he’s so used to being independent and now he’s relying on other people to do things,” Crowe said. “We try to keep him involved with the gym, but I’ve accepted that I’m pretty much running it on my own for now. The hardest part is just doing all the little things by myself, like getting all the T-shirts together if we’re having an event, that kind of thing.

“Overall, for both of us, though, we have to look at it as a growing experience.”

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.




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