It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month — pay heed to your health and help others with these events and fitness tips.
by Katie Flaherty | Photo from Marandi Productions
Cancer Conquerer - Breast Cancer Awareness & Recovery

Lisa Nicolette

She was a woman on top and in the best shape of her life. As a body builder and sales professional, Lisa Nicolette had it all; looks, health, and a great career when she was hit with a cancer diagnosis that almost took that all away.

In 2008, Lisa was preparing to compete in The Northern Kentucky Beverly International, one of the largest amateur body building and fitness competitions in the country, when she found a lump on her breast. “I knew immediately it was breast cancer,” Nicolette says. The lump was hard like a stone and different than others she’d had in the past. After seeing a physician to confirm her worst fear, Lisa lost the executive level sales position she landed in Philadelphia just two days prior.

She calls her incision the “designer scar” for the healing marks her surgeon left, but it was Lisa who designed her recovery to not only reclaim her health, but to inspire others with her story as well. “I was told, you’re never going to do what you did before, you’re going to have to completely change your lifestyle and give up a lot of goals and dreams,” Nicolette says. Used to pushing herself to physical and mental limits, Lisa refused to accept her diagnosis as an end to her fitness career and instead used it as motivation to amp up her training. “I went nuts in the gym and trained harder than I ever did. I trained like I was going to the Olympics,” she says.

Since her diagnosis, Lisa has been in four body building shows, placing in three at the National Physique Committee (NPC) level. Just three weeks before undergoing cancer surgery, Lisa completed the Men’s U.S. Marine Fitness Challenge at the Arnold Schwarzenegger Fitness Expo. Preparing for radiation treatment, Nicolette says, “It’s a lot to go through, and I wanted to go into it in top shape.” She consulted with advanced trainers and became certified herself to design her own workouts that included preventative strategies to avoid any complications such as lymphedema issues.

Now cancer free, she works at the Baierl YMCA in Franklin Park, implementing fitness regimes for cancer patients and survivors. Knowing that not everyone has a background in body building, “I’m hoping they’ll regain what they once had,” Nicolette says. As a result of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, cancer patients lose a lot of muscle and bone mass that is replaced with fat. “The only way you can ever reverse that for them is some form of weight training or weight bearing exercise,” Nicolette says.

Still in its early stages, functional fitness training for cancer patients is a relatively new frontier. “I tend to gravitate to that style because you can train anybody from a body builder all the way through a senior citizen,” Nicolette says. In the midst of researching grants, Lisa hopes to see her work blossom into a form of ongoing health care that will eventually be implemented in hospitals around the region.

Lisa maintains a blog of her personal struggle to inform and motivate cancer patients and survivors. She’s currently writing a book, and hopes her work can be a resource for people going through any kind of serious illness or injury. “People want answers,” Nicolette says. “I want to show people in various stages of life where they can go for information, because a lot of people really don’t know where to go to get help for finances, counseling, or even alternatives to their situation.” For more information, visit

According to The Susan G. Komen for the Cure, there are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors alive today. Celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month and more success stories at these inspiring fundraising events!

Paws for a Cure • October 7
Bring out your pooches to prance in the park at the fourth annual Paws for a Cure at Hartwood Acres on October 7. Deck out your furry friends in pink and raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure — there will be contests for the best dressed pup in Steeler garb, pink for awareness, and overall outfit. Athletic pups can also attempt the homemade agility course. Local country celebrity Sydney Hutchko will be entertaining during the walk, and WTAE-TV’s Andrew Stockey and Star 100.7 FM’s Shelly Duffy will also be in attendance. Paws for a Cure,

6th Annual Pink Party • October 10
Support the healing powers of pink at Philip Pelusi’s 6th Annual Pink Party on October 10. Come out to WHIM nightclub in Station Square for an evening of cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and an exclusive fashion show featuring cutting edge trends in hair and make-up for fall. General admission tickets are $22 at any of the area’s 12 Philip Pelusi salons or by calling 412.488.8951 x205.

Pink Ribbon Round-Up • October 19-20
Bring out your boots for the seventh annual Pink Ribbon Round-Up and join in a Western-themed gala and horseback ride October 19-20. Riders and non-riders will enjoy an evening of tasty treats, live entertainment, and auctions at the Chadwick Banquet Hall in Wexford on Friday. On Saturday, saddle up for the horseback ride in North Park — riders must bring their own horse and will receive a free lunch, T-shirt, gift bag, and treats for their horse. Both events benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Pink Ribbon Roundup,

Bid for Hope XI • October 29
Mix and mingle with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Bid for Hope XI auction at Jergel’s Rhythm Grille on October 29. Tight end Heath Miller and his wife, Katie, host a starstruck evening of hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, and bidding amongst some of your favorite players. Special guest KDKA-TV’s Bob Pompeani will act as auctioneer, and proceeds benefit Glimmer of Hope and the fight against breast cancer.
Bid for Hope,

• • •

Registration for the 21st Annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on May 12, 2013 opens this month!

Stop by The Pussycat lingerie store this month and mention your mammogram appointment within this calendar year for $10 off any regularly priced bra! The Pussycat, 5824 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill. 412.521.5977.


This article is featured in the October 2012 issue of WHIRL Magazine.
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