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Monday, November 29, 2021

Meet breast cancer survivor Cheryl Kire Achumi, who is motivating people to exercise and live healthy

A silver lining amid this pandemic has been that people have understood the importance and benefit of exercise, she says

Written by Jayashree Narayanan | Pune |
Updated: October 21, 2021 5:47:34 pm
Cheryl Kire AchumiCheryl Kire Achumi has been advocating for fitness in Nagaland's Dimapur. (Source: Cheryl Kire Achumi)

Cheryl Kire Achumi, born and brought up in Dimapur, was living the life of her dreams with her husband and two children. A graduate in hospitality management and a BA in English, the native of Nagaland had dabbled in a few jobs before she started her own side businesses in the form of a tent house, a service apartment rental and later a tea garden. She quit her job in 2010 to pursue entrepreneurship full-time.

But in May 2014, she was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. “I had a small uncomfortable lump in my breast. So, I underwent a lumpectomy and sent it for biopsy. Results came and I was diagnosed with carcinoma breast stage 1,” the 43-year-old told

As part of her treatment, Cheryl had to undergo three clinical operations, six rounds of chemotherapy and 15 rounds of radiotherapy, as a result of which her “body and mind were encountering immense pain, stress and anxiety”. “During the treatment process, I also gained about 18 kilos and went from 50 to 68 kg. Since I was unable to move around freely without feeling constantly fatigued and in pain, the most I did in terms of ‘fitness’ was to walk around the compound. But I kept myself busy with the household, a little bit of gardening, read a few books, and even did a little knitting when my stiff fingers allowed,” she recalled.

Cheryl Cheryl Achumi works out six days a week. (Source: Cheryl Achumi)

She soon realised she “urgently needed to work on my core strength to get back in shape and become healthier and fitter”. With that in mind, she visited various nearby gyms in Dimapur city but “could not find a single gym in the locality that had proper amenities and trainers”.

“So, I ended up working out at home and focused on core strengthening exercises, cardio and some weights, stretching and flexibility training,” shared Cheryl who was guided by her husband Abraham Botoking, a fitness enthusiast and a certified personal fitness trainer. Her diet included both micro and macro level intake. “My husband made sure I consumed a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables, dried nuts and fruits, protein, and soup. I started on Omega 3+6+9, multivitamins and calcium,” she described.

Over the next several months, she and her husband also started discussing about the prospects of starting-up an entrepreneurial venture around “enabling high-quality fitness for all”. And in no time, her husband — a former banker by profession – had quit his job to wholeheartedly support Cheryl’s entrepreneurial aspirations into becoming a reality. This is how City Gymn, co-founded by the fitness-lover couple, came to being in September 2016, and emerged as the first-ever gym in the city to have a dedicated ‘women’s fitness section’ incorporated into their facility. The gender-inclusive gyms aim to motivate and aid people to take care of their health and fitness goals.

“Everyone should exercise daily and live a healthy lifestyle. Women usually ignore their health and hardly ever exercise. We need to realise that the benefits of living a fit life are both mental and physical. This means, reduced anxiety and stress, reduced chronic illnesses, more energy, hormonal balance, weight management, longer life, better mood, good skin, good sleep, good mental health. Basically look good and feel great! That should be the ultimate motto for every woman,” Cheryl, who opened yet another branch in 2019 in Burma Camp area of the city, told this outlet .

The certified diet and nutrition coach and fitness trainer now works out six days a week with focus on core strengthening, weights and a little cardio.

Cheryl Kire Achumi Cheryl Kire Achumi, a breast cancer survivor, opened a gym with her husband (Source: Cheryl Kire Achumi)

But the pandemic soon halted things with the couple facing a financial crunch and being forced to close down one of their centers. “But we brought all the equipment home for our elderly clients and those opting for personal training—thereby enabling them to work out in privacy and security without fear of contracting the virus,” she expressed. Now as she begins again, Cheryl, who was part of the Her&Now Entrepreneurship Support Programme in the North East Region in 2019 (which enabled her to formulate a solid business expansion plan and introduced her to various innovative avenues to grow her venture), plans to “open more gyms”, along with a sporting centre, and a football coaching centre in the near future.

Notably, Her&Now programme is an initiative that empowers women entrepreneurs and is implemented by GIZ, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and in partnership with the Government of India’s Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MoSDE).

“A silver lining amid this pandemic has been that people have understood the importance and benefit of exercise. We have many individuals who have signed up for our fitness training in an effort to live a healthy lifestyle. Footfall is now on the rise. We also opened a Futsal centre which is doing well at the moment,” she mentioned.

According to statistics, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in India with one woman being diagnosed with breast cancer in India, every four minutes, and one woman dying of it in the country every eight minutes. Despite the numbers, and the call for preventive check-ups, people especially women are “seldom proactive about their own well-being”.

“No matter what part of the body is affected, cancer is cancer. Cancer can touch anyone irrespective of caste, creed or colour. No one is immune. My advice to every woman would be to always do a self breast examination every month educate yourself. Do research. Go for regular checkups. Eat healthy, exercise regularly, let go grudges and do things that make you happy,” Cheryl said.

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