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"I've had it all!", jokes Sara Andrés Barrio (Madrid, August 21, 1986) with the smile that always characterizes her despite the adversity that has touched her. The Paralympic athlete arrives from a hectic training session where her prostheses have just been adjusted as every two weeks. She calls them "robot feet," and they have replaced flesh-and-blood feet since they were amputated in 2011.
After overcoming thyroid cancer and basal cell carcinoma [a type of skin cancer that usually develops in areas of skin exposed to the sun] he now stars in a campaign to raise awareness about melanoma with tennis player Rafael Nadal and Real Madrid footballers, all of them ambassadors of Cantabria Labs. In Spain, around 6,179 new cases are detected annually and cause more than 900 deaths.
"When I see myself next to these icons of the sport I feel super lucky to be with them transmitting values of sacrifice and effort. It's very cool because we played a game where we won the battle against melanoma, "he says, making the gesture of zero with his hand. The athlete was selected as the image of the laboratory at a decisive moment, four years ago, when she had just closed her hard process against the disease. "I take medication for life. In 2015 I had surgery for thyroid cancer and, soon after, I saw that I had a kind of wart and I did not stop it, "he recalls.
Sure enough, it turned out to be a tumor. Once recovered, the spots and moles are checked every year at the dermatologist to confirm that there is nothing abnormal. "Now I protect myself more. I take topical and oral photoprotection. Unfortunately, with the sun either something bad happens to us or we are unconscious." Because everyone, when they feel well and consider themselves healthy, recognizes, sometimes they don't think they're going to have a condition.
"Athletes are more likely to develop skin cancer because we spend a lot of time in the sun, just like other people who work outdoors," she slips already fully recovered.
Although thyroid cancer usually has a hereditary history, in her case it did not. "It's mere speculation of mine, but I think it had more to do with the heavy medication I had to take in the amputation. When I was admitted, my thyroid was greatly altered and could derive from there. Or maybe it was time to pass these two cancers and that's it. Without further ado," she says, accepting once again the becomings of a trajectory that made her abandon her teaching position to become the woman she is now. "Four years ago I asked for a leave of absence, but I still go once a year to see my children because I am fond of them. And I give a lot of motivational lectures that also help me." Repeating his story does not tire him. It helps you be more grateful.
"I am who I am because of what happened to me. I don't live on tiptoe. I am demanding and do not waste time. People can say that losing their feet is a lot, but gaining awareness is not little," he summarizes once he has found his way. "I would never have stood out as an athlete otherwise. I've managed to be a Paralympic."
Now the athlete protects her skin more from the sun.C. Labs
The Grand Prix, an international Paralympic athletics competition, has just been held in Jesolo, Venice, Italy. There Andrés has achieved the minimum mark to go to the World Cup in Paris. "A direct ticket where I want to do a good role to prepare also for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games." Up to 4,400 athletes will participate. "It would be my third Games."
Of course, in August he will take a month of "active rest". Because he never stops training but pretends not to step on the slopes. "I will do other sports that I love, such as cycling and tennis, which in season they do not let me do in case I get injured. I won't forget about mobility or abs either."
YOGA AND THERAPY
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Andrés acknowledges that restarting the body in September is ungrateful. "Athletes are slaves. More in athletics, that's why I have to always be very in tune." She also combines workouts with yoga sessions. "Once a week with teacher. And at home every day. It comes in handy to open spaces, expand, stretch, feel comfortable in my own body and relieve contractures. Also, I meditate by listening to how I feel. It's a very good time to understand yourself and take things differently." It lowers revolutions and connects her with the earth. "I'm very nervous, as you can see, and it calms me down. He's a healer."
Sara Andrés has always talked about the benefits of therapy after her experience, although sometimes it is difficult to find the right psychologist and that connection occurs. It's okay to change specialists, he says. "A novelty that the Paralympic Committee has introduced since the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is to introduce a sports psychologist. A unique advance in the history of the sport throughout the trip, because he came with us as one more, "he explains. He defends that both the body and the mind must be trained. "Sometimes I myself have stretched the rope a lot and you need someone to give you advice from the outside and help you understand your emotions and manage them to get out of the hole. The important thing is to look for solutions, not to believe that you are weak. It's normal to need an adjustment, like the one that goes to the endocrine or the physio."
Nutrition is also important to her. "I've been on a diet since February. I don't do it all year, because it's impossible: you don't have that much willpower and you're going to get tired. You have to enjoy life too," he says. But as an athlete you must adjust your weight. No fried, processed, fatty and, of course, no drop of alcohol. Everything measured and controlled until July. "When I have to be fine and strong it's hard because my habits are strict." Eat little many times and very healthy. "The goal is not to feel full so I don't have heavy digestions and that annoys when you enjoy like me. You are not happy in times of so much sacrifice and renunciation. That's why when the World Cup is over I'm going to eat everything that's not written," he laughs again.
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