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Thrown a curveball, gym owner rallies

Posted: Friday, Oct 18th, 2013

Tracy Boyd, owner of Curves fitness center on South Green Valley Road, talks about her battle with cancer Thursday. (Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — Several women were in the midst of their workouts Thursday at the Watsonville branch of Curves fitness center, some doing gentle stretches and movements while others were vigorously exercising to the beat of a lively song.

In the midst of the lively room, however, owner Tracy Boyd’s movements were much slower and significantly more measured.

The 47-year-old single mother, who purchased the business a little more than a year ago, was diagnosed in June with breast cancer. She had a bilateral mastectomy on Sept. 10 after doctors found seven tumors, and she is currently undergoing painful reconstructive procedures.

Add to that a recovery that includes several medications, and it’s easy to understand her depleted energy levels.

She will start chemotherapy in November.

To help her with burgeoning medical costs, her friends and employees are holding a fundraiser on Oct. 26 that will include food, music and a raffle.

Boyd’s first thought when she received her diagnosis was financial — what would happen to her business?

“This was my livelihood,” she said. “I was my main staff member, but now I’m basically off the schedule.”

But Boyd is not one to feel sorry for herself. Despite her medical troubles, her main concerns were for her clients, who she says have come to rely on the business for a safe, comfortable place to work out and get fit.

“Women need this,” she said. “I was worried about letting them down.”

Exercise, she points out to her clients, keeps adherents fit and prevents diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and, ironically, cancer.

“I love helping the women, and teaching them about fitness and why it matters so much,” she added.

Boyd is a Santa Cruz County native who grew up in Aptos and currently lives in Watsonville with her 14-year-old daughter. She became involved with Curves as customer, when the health regime she learned helped her lose more than 50 pounds.

After managing a location in Las Vegas for four years, she came back to run the Watsonville location. She purchased it in September.

Boyd said one of the most challenging parts of her current situation is letting go of her fierce independence.

“It changes you,” she said. “I always say, ‘I got it,’ but you learn that you don’t always got it.”

Moreover, until Boyd found the lumps during a self-exam of her breasts, she had always lived a healthy lifestyle.

“I’m 47 and I had never had a mammogram,” she said. “I had never even had a stitch. This has been a very new experience for me.”

Now, while telling her clients their medical decisions are their business alone, Boyd has changed her tune somewhat by recommending breast cancer screenings for women around 50.

She also pointed out that Northern California has one of the highest rates of breast cancer in women under 50.

That figure is borne out by a 2012 study by Public Health Institute's California Breast Cancer Mapping Project, which shows a cluster of counties around the San Francisco Bay labeled as “areas of concern.”

“If you’re in that age group, get a mammogram,” she said. “Why not?”

To bolster this, Boyd is waiving the signup fee for any woman who is a breast cancer survivor, who has had a mammogram in the past year or who plans on getting one.

These days, as she speaks with her clients, she has learned that many of them have survived cancer, she said.

“Having them encouraged me, and lets me know it’s going to be OK,” she said.


The fundraiser for Tracy Boyd is scheduled for Oct. 26 from 2-4:30 p.m. at Curves, 1058 South Green Valley Road in Watsonville near Orchard Supply Hardware. For information call 724-0900. The event includes a raffle with several prizes ranging from jewelry to art to restaurant gift certificates.

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