Bodybuilding competitor Tracey Schofield credits her local gym for keeping her healthy and happy during Skin Cancer recovery

Fitness and physical activity have always been a huge part of Tracey Schofield’s life and it’s helped her get through her toughest test of all.

A seasoned marathon runner, Tracey took part in the London Marathon on four occasions before a foot injury meant she had to take her training down a different path. At the age of 40, she got into gym training and with the help of a Personal Trainer, quickly applied her determination to weight training.

After achieving great results, her trainer pointed her in the direction of bodybuilding competitions, something that Tracey never imagined herself doing. She first got onto stage to compete in 2017 and just a year later, she had won through to the British finals in her category.

However, 2018 also proved to be a turning point for the wrong reasons. Later that year in November after being concerned with a raised mole on her back, Tracey booked a doctor’s appointment. It was another spot that got the doctor’s attention and after being examined further, she was diagnosed with melanoma.

“I felt completely numb,” said Tracey. “When you look after yourself and keep fit, you don’t think that these types of things will happen to you. I was hoping it would be something that I could overcome quickly and initially I didn’t look or feel any different, so I only told my partner early.”

As it became apparent that this would be a longer-term battle, Tracey opened up to her family and friends as she began to lose her hair and appear visibly thinner. However, despite experiencing some low points, there was one thing that kept Tracey going; the support from her local gym Anytime Fitness Leighton Buzzard.

“It may have been too early but I threw myself straight back into the gym to feel some normality in my life,” said Tracey. “It wasn’t just somewhere to go and train, it was an opportunity to chat to people. The people in the gym are lovely and I’ve made some great friends there, it’s been a lifeline at times.”
Tracey initially joined Anytime Fitness Leighton Buzzard due to its convenient location and 24-hour access.

At the height of her bodybuilding training, she was in the gym twice a day and starting work at 5am, she needed somewhere that was open all hours to fit the training around her lifestyle. However, the gym has come to mean so much more than that to Tracey and it played a key part in her recovery while she was going through treatment.

“The staff there were so considerate and always asking how I was feeling,” added Tracey. “The office door was always open and they went above and beyond to make sure I felt looked after. It’s the main place I felt comfortable talking to people. They can tell when I’ve come in to have more of a social experience versus when I want to get my head down and train.”

Tracey had hoped to have received the all clear from cancer by the latter months of 2019. So much so that earlier in the year, she had entered herself into a competition in September 2019. Sadly, she was still going through treatment but determined to not let this stop her, still competed and got on stage regardless. Amazingly, she finishing third in her category and received an invite to the UK Ultimate Physiques (UKUP) British Finals.

“That was something I had to do for myself,” said Tracey. “During my recovery I was always working towards that date and there was no way that I wasn’t going on stage. It was hard work, but it felt amazing to be up there and as I’ve said before, have that sense of normality.”

The national lockdown in 2020 meant that Tracey was unable to go to the gym, but it was something she adapted to. Walking the dog every day for exercise became her new routine and she turned to online fitness, doing yoga, meditation and stretching classes.

“Having no competitions to train for meant I could do something different to what I’ve done before,” said Tracey. “It really helped my mind and gave me a balance. I’ve always been very motivated so on top of that, I used my time to qualify online as a Yoga instructor. With all this time on my hands, it was something I really wanted to do as I’d enjoyed it so much.”

When gyms reopened in July, Tracey began to revisit her sessions with her partner who is also into fitness. With no further treatment required until March, Tracey has identified the latter stages of 2021 as the next time she’s aiming to compete.

“Having this time off has been a great chance to try new things,” concluded Tracey. “In 2021 I’m aiming to get back to some form of normal life and I want to feel ready before I compete. I’m provisionally looking at September or October when I next step on stage and I can’t wait for it. It’s been a tough couple of years but there’s definitely light at the end of the tunnel.”