September 23, 2020

         The founder of NYC/CT-based, Chi Chi Life, Lauren melds her passions: fitness, event production, and fundraising, corporate wellness and cancer advocacy. In honor of September - Blood Cancer Awareness Month we share Lauren Chiarello's story. 

 

Tell us about yourself.

    I grew up about an hour north of Manhattan in Westchester County. I was raised by two loving and compassionate parents, have one older sister, Jenn. Jenn is married and has 3 amazing kids. I am married to my love, Russ – and we recently bought a home in Connecticut, where we share our time.

     I have a deep passion for travel. It expands my heart and mind. I truly enjoy learning about different cultures and immersing myself in new environments. My husband and I foster service dogs in training, through a program called Puppies Behind Bars. The dogs are raised by prison inmates and eventually paired with a war veteran with PTSD. We help to socialize the pups – introducing them to new environments, people and sounds

    I am the founder of NYC-based, Chi Chi Life which melds my passions: fitness, event production and fundraising, corporate wellness and cancer advocacy. A graduate from Villanova University with a degree in Accounting and Marketing, I have 13+ years of experience fundraising and producing events for non-profits, for-profits and agencies – including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

     I am a 2x cancer thriver who supports, motivates and teaches rock stars who value the importance of strengthening the mind and body. I teach Barre, Pilates and TRX classes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, exhale and Flex Studios. I work privately and in companies. I have completed multiple half and full marathons while fundraising $125,000 for cancer charities.

     Going through the lows of cancer has given me a deep appreciation of everyday life. Fitness changed my life. Movement allowed me to regain my strength post-treatment. If cancer never entered my life, I doubt I would’ve fallen head over heels in love with fitness. It’s a true gift to move our bodies.

    How Did Fitness Play Apart in You Life?

    Running was also a huge part of my recovery. The mental strength and dedication shined bright as I took on challenges like half marathons and full marathons. The running community is welcoming and taught me so much about showing up for each other wholeheartedly throughout this journey of life.

     Movement improves our overall physical wellbeing -- improving our functional movement in our daily activities, helping us feel less stressed + sleeping better at night. I integrate movement into my day through exercise and stretching. If I am feeling tired, I will try to push through even for a quick 15-minute workout. I always feel more energized + have clarity of mind. 

    Your journey to motherhood wasn’t easy.

    Having no idea if I’d be able to conceive naturally. I was encouraged to freeze my eggs at age 24 when I relapsed from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. My husband and I had an ectopic pregnancy in May 2018 before conceiving our identical twins naturally last year. I learned about acceptance and staying in the present moment. We had a mono/di twin pregnancy, (Monochorionic-diamniotic twins are identical twins who share a placenta but not an amniotic sac).which is high-risk. We saw our OB every two weeks and were monitored very carefully with ultrasounds. I vividly remember when we learned we were pregnant. Two days after my missed period start date, we waited with excitement as we stared at the pregnancy test. Moments of disbelief, joy, squealing, and jumping ensued. We were pregnant! I had a chemo-blasted fallopian tube—and it still worked! That Monday, I went straight to my RE’s office to confirm — yes, we were pregnant! 

     At six weeks and three days, we had our first scan to discover that there were two embryos and two heartbeats, sharing a placenta. Identical twins. A double miracle. I had faced mortality not once, but twice. Now, here we are with two tiny humans on the way, conceived naturally. 

    Through these life hurdles—the cancer treatment, egg freezing, and fertility struggles—I am continually reminded of the resiliency of our bodies and the power of a positive mindset. My gratitude for life deepens with each of these blessings.

    Tell us about your entrance into motherhood.

     I had no idea I’d be cannonballing my way into the deep end of motherhood. One week postpartum from my cesarean, I was riding in the back of an ambulance with one of our identical twin sons, Jacob. He needed to get to a Level IV NICU — STAT. As we drove one hour away, I peered out the back window in despair. I left half of my heart behind in the NICU — our other son, Vincent. 

    Sweet Jacob had a very rocky start to his life. Nine of the first 10 weeks of his life was spent in four different hospitals — with various health issues, including a surgery. I learned the true meaning of resilience. 

     During this time, my heart was absolutely torn in two. Jacob in the hospital. Vincent at home. I had to learn to show up for my boys in different ways — even when I was physically + emotionally drained. Motherhood is unconditional love. It’s putting one foot in front of the other when you’re not sure you can move another inch.

    Even in the midst of a pandemic, I am deeply grateful we’re all home under one roof. Sweet Jacob has made tremendous progress – my boys are now eight months!

     Conclusion

    My mantra is “Squeeze the juice out of life”. Every day we are alive is a gift, and I never take it for granted that I was given a second chance at life. Abundance is all around us. When we take a pause during our day to acknowledge what were grateful for, it can shift our mindset into a positive state.

    Find out more about Lauren:

    www.chichilifenyc.com

    @chichilifenyc

     


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