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Alex moved beyond treatment to live a life worth loving

Recovery takes longer than treatment, and is different for everyone.

Alex Mandarino knows that. Diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2014, he had to find a way to move beyond treatment to live a life worth loving.

One of the most important tools for his recovery was going to the gym.

Alex leans against the wall of a GoodLife gym. There is a colourful GoodLife sign covering the wall. He is holding a water bottle.
Photo by Karine Chalifour

“I headed to the gym while being back at university after the first few months of my treatment. This activity was something I was dedicated to prior to cancer, and diving back into it during treatment felt like it just fit. I had a goal to work towards, and an opportunity to build myself back up again.

“I attended the McMaster University gym with friends as much as possible early on, and eventually built up the courage again to go by myself. It allowed me to develop a healthy relationship with my body again, and mentally it really gave me something to focus on
other than my treatment, hospital visits, and feeling sick.

“I have carried that habit with me to the present day, and now I make it a necessity to stay healthy and play intramural sports with friends, lift weights, run and take brisk walks either with close friends or on my own.

“I knew that originally my goal was to get my physical weight back to where I was prior to cancer diagnosis, but I discovered that I was loving the slow progress of muscle growth and regaining energy. It gave me hope that everything was going to be okay.”

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