Brookes Horton is a fighter. At 71, the Marietta grandmother not only beat breast cancer but she continues to wage a daily battle against a coronary artery disease brought on as a result of complications from her cancer treatments.
So she fights.
Five days each week, Horton walks, bikes, swims and goes through her workout paces at Sterling Estates Senior Living community in Marietta.
Moving to Sterling Estates took away her stress over the responsibility of running a household. No more fretting over things that could distract her from her wellness goals.
“You have to have the will to live,” Horton said. “And I am a fighter. I want to be here for my children and my grandchildren. I knew I had to do something. Due to my health condition, I knew I needed assistance. It was time for me to make a decision and go where I chose to go without my children having to take on that responsibility. I knew I might need medical assistance if my health declined. I knew that help was at Sterling Estates, my chosen new home.”
The hill was a steep one, and Horton knew it.
When she moved into Sterling Estates last year, she could barely stand for 10 minutes without getting short-winded. It was more than humbling for the once active golf and tennis enthusiast.
Since she felt a lump in her breast and was diagnosed with cancer in 2001, it had been an uphill climb.
Open heart surgery.
Coronary heart disease.
The death of her husband, Tom, in 2009.
It had all piled on.
But from her first day at Sterling Estates, Christine Walsh, its wellness director, saw a determination in Horton that was unrelenting. They made a pact to push forward together. “Brookes had an acceptance of where she was and where she wanted to be,” Walsh said. “When I explained to her what her heart would allow her to do and what it wouldn’t, she knew where she stood. She told me that she didn’t want to settle for that kind of life.”
They started slow, Exercise 101, if you will. Walsh started Horton with some minimal strength training, a little aerobic exercises and some walking. Five minutes. 10. 15. The more she did; the better she felt.
She eventually hit the aerobic pool (where she now works out at least two times a week). She participates in strength and aerobic training five times each week. In five months, Horton had pushed past the shackles her cancer and heart disease put on her.
“It’s all about being consistent and persistent,” Horton said.
Today, Horton’s workout warrior mentality continues to shine through.
She is capable of walking and biking 3 miles. Once a candidate for robotic heart surgery (she received a second opinion when her physical condition ruled out surgery as an option), doctors said she doesn’t need it at the moment because she has shown signs of improvement.
In fact, Horton has become such a student of the workout game that Walsh said she could teach the class. But perhaps more important is that, since her diagnosis in 2001, Horton has remained cancer free.
“It took a lot of dedication and determination — a lot of faith — to get to where I am today,” Horton said. “But I knew that I could do it. It was about having a strong faith. And I do. I have had a lot of support. Sterling Estates has more than changed my life. I have reached goals I never thought possible.”