Meet Shelley, who is taking on B2GC to support cancer research.
At 29 years old, Shelley Bishop was down 45kg and in the best shape of her life—guiding her 60,000-strong Shred with Shelley social media community on how to do the same.
At 30, she’d had a tumour above her collarbone removed and was enduring her fourth round of chemotherapy, after donating her long, thick, dark hair to a children’s charity.
“Cancer takes all sense of control away from you, so instead of waking up and feeling my hair fall out and crying and being really emotional, I just got in and did it,” Shelley said.
“And it was quite shocking visibly for me to just be completely bald, but that’s the day I really took control back in a way, and it turned out to be one of the greatest days of my life.
“Plus, somewhere in the world there’s a six-year-old with Leukaemia wearing my hair right now!”
The dramatic weight loss is likely to have saved the musician’s life—revealing a lump above her collarbone she may never have found otherwise.
“I was working at a recording studio… I’d worked for my whole career to get to this point, but physically, I couldn't keep up with the job. I came home one night and was going to quit because I just didn’t have the energy. I felt like I was throwing it all away,” she said.
A letterbox pamphlet for a free trial at the new gym next door became the catalyst for a two-and-a-half-year transformation.
“I never had a trainer; I never had a dietician. I just watched YouTube videos or read articles and nutrition books and sit at the back of the gym and just tried and figure it out.”
“The first six to eight weeks was the hardest. But then I thought, wow, this is great! I can lift heavy things, I’m losing weight, I feel good! Even the smallest change was that little spark to just keep going, keep going, keep going.”
Posting a before and after shot to Reddit during lockdown kicked off Shred with Shelley. What started as an opportunity to keep herself accountable soon grew to a community of followers, keen to tap into Shelley’s effervescent energy and never-give-up attitude.
They would soon become some of her greatest cheerleaders for the journey that lay ahead.
“I was used to maintaining that weight, to knowing what my body did and how it reacted to workouts, but I just felt like I’d been unplugged. Like the batteries were drained.”
Shelley’s GP wasn’t concerned about the lump above her collarbone. An ultrasound revealed nothing. Two months later after it had grown further, a needle biopsy came back inconclusive. Eventually the lump was causing so much discomfort that Shelley was scheduled to have it surgically removed.
Ten hours later, she found out she had Hodgkin Lymphoma—a blood cancer her friend and musical colleague, singer Delta Goodrem, had been diagnosed with at just 18 years’ old.
“She told me that you can’t be good every day. You can’t try and be a hero every day, which is what I was always trying to do. It’s one day, one hour, one minute at a time… I’m so grateful for that advice,” she said.
Shelley still has nerve damage from the surgery but is back playing her beloved saxophone and learning to live with the changes to her arm and hand.
“I started on piano but once I moved to the saxophone, well, it’s my thing, my golden instrument, and then jazz music, that was the thing I fell in love with,” she said.
While Shelley feels like she’s slowly returning to her former self physically, her life after cancer is very different.
“Living in the fast-paced lifestyle I was in, I just thought I was invincible, but no one gets an easy way out of this. Cancer is terrible, there’s nothing good about this journey, and you’re never going to be the same person you were before.
“I was so disciplined with my fitness and nutrition to the point where it was my whole life. It was my hobby, it was my job, it was everything. I would weigh everything I'd eat, schedule all my workouts. But now I'm just so much more relaxed as a person, and I’m just working to find the balance,” she said.
Shelley is dusting off her bike to tackle the 40km Brisbane to Gold Coast to support cancer research.
"I'm so grateful that so much funding and time has already gone into science and research and developing better treatments, because that’s what enabled me to get from diagnosis, to treatment, to remission in less than a year,” she said.
“It’s because of events like this that there is funding and support, and I know first-hand that it makes a massive difference. It’s the reason that people get to live the quality of lives that they do.
“And you can only imagine that, with more support, how, how much further that's going to go.”