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Bad Kitty® Inspiration Series: Kirstie Tancock

By on January 18, 2016

image7Every month, Bad Kitty® features a pole dancer from the community who has faced extraordinary circumstances when it comes to their health. We call this collection of pole stories our Bad Kitty® Inspiration Series. We have talked to polers who have faced debilitating cancer, severe scoliosis and cerebral palsy. All of these women cite pole as one of their primary tools for recovery – and not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. This month we talk to an amazing young lady across the pond named Kirstie Tancock. Kirstie was born with cystic fibrosis and has one heck of a story about how pole quite literally saved her life.

BK: Tell us a bit about your circumstances. What kinds of challenges have you faced with your health?

KT: I was born with cystic fibrosis, a multi organ disease mainly affecting the lungs. In 2011, at the age of 21, I became so ill I was placed on a pioneering  life support system for 5 days and put in a medically induced coma. On what would have been the last day of my life a match for my lungs was found and I received my first double lung transplant. I had to learn to walk and talk again due to muscle atrophy from being in a coma and from being ill for so long.image1-1

Unfortunately in 2013 I went into chronic rejection of my new lungs. I started radiation therapy to try and slow the progression but I declined too quickly. I was told I desperately needed another transplant as I had as little as a week left to live and no option to be placed on life support this time due to complications. In August 2013 I received my second lung transplant.

My recovery was much quicker this time as pole had been my savior in making me fit and strong.

I went through early menopause at just 23 from the radiation therapy.

I still have cystic fibrosis in all my other organs and have regular complications. As I write this I’m in the hospital because my bowels have stopped working – an extremely painful setback.  I am also diabetic and suffer from juvenile chronic arthritis all related to my CF.

BK: Have these challenges impacted your emotional health positively or negatively? How so?

KT: It’s hard to say, I have said my goodbyes to my family far too many times and know that my life will ultimately be shorter. In fact, on average a double lung transplant lasts 5 years and a third transplant isn’t heard of. I know I can’t have kids due to menopause and every month I have to process the loss of another transplant or CF friend. These of course all have a negative affect on your emotional and mental health. But despite this I love my life and feel that I’m blessed with the view that my life could end tomorrow. For some people that might be a negative, but to me it puts everything into context. I must live harder, faster and with more passion and love – something everyone should do.

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I have struggled with depression. In fact, I think once you realize you’ve been depressed it never really leaves you and you worry that it will come back. But despite everything I have been through I think I’m a well balanced, happy person.

BK: When did you discover pole?

KT: I was 17 and in college doing performing arts and arts management and I went to a class at the local uni. I had always loved to dance but was no longer able to take part in p.e at school because of my arthritis. I loved pole though. I was instantly hooked and loved how easily pole came to me. At the age of 19 I qualified as an instructor and started my own business teaching pole. It was short lived as my health declined but I always knew I would be back on the pole when the time was right. Now I’m well and truly back and loving pole more than ever. My arthritis is in remission and with my new lungs I can finally perform long, strenuous routines and have even competed and performed.

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BK: What kind of an effect did pole have on you mentally, emotionally, physically, even spiritually?

KT: Every kind of effect. It was one of my saving graces. I would not be alive today if it weren’t for pole. I wouldn’t have been given the option of life support if the doctors hadn’t seen how physically strong I had been before the surgery. It helped keep my lungs strong for as long while I battled my disease for as long as possible. It helped me regain my strength and come to love my body as a fit,strong woman instead of the incredibly skinny and ill girl I had become. You see with CF you also don’t absorb fat and you burn calories twice as fast and when you can’t breathe, you can’t possibly eat.

When I had to give pole up I wrote a blog about saying my goodbyes to my dance. It was heart wrenching. Pole helped me stand out despite my illness rather than because of it.

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BK: What do you consider to be the most healing aspect of pole dancing?

KT: The desire it gives you to push yourself beyond what you ever thought capable, to strive for that next move. It’s cathartic.

BK: What advice do you have for other pole dancers who may be going through a challenging time?

KT: Remember why you love pole. Give yourself the chance to dance and leave all your problems behind. When you get lost in trying that new move the pain in your joints, stomach or your lungs just doesn’t seem so bad because you become so wrapped up that it melts away. And to never compare your pole journey to someone else’s. This is your journey and no one will have the same experiences as you. Make your progress individual, unique and amazing.

 

Know someone who you think should be spotlighted in our Bad Kitty® Inspiration Series? Do you have a story about your health that you would like to share with the community? Email Claire@badkitty.com!

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Claire Griffin Sterrett
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Claire Griffin Sterrett

Editor in Chief at Bad Kitty Inc.
Writer, pole dancer, teacher, social worker and editor of this whole awesome thing.You can find out more about me at www.polestory.com.
Claire Griffin Sterrett
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