Chemo is tough, but this female bodybuilder — who refuses to give up working out even after her cancer diagnosis — is tougher.
Alexis Mercer, 23, a competitive bodybuilder from Rincon, Georgia, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma last July.
"We all had a mini-panic attack when the news hit us," Mercer told InsideEdition.com.
She said she was on a boating trip with her family when her left hand swelled up. Assuming it was an allergic reaction, she took some Benadryl and waited for the swelling to subside.
The following day, Mercer said she returned to the gym, and the swelling, along with some discoloration, returned.
When she finally made a trip to her doctor the next day, they discovered she had cancer, and the tumor on her chest was constricting blood flow, causing the swelling in her hand.
Despite her diagnosis, and looming chemotherapy and other treatments that will weaken her body, giving up her time at the gym was never an option.
"Being at the gym and working out — that's one of my top priorities," she said. "I consulted with my doctor as soon as I found out about the cancer and she gave me the go-ahead."
While Mercer has since abstained from bodybuilding competitions — several of which she has won in the past — she continues to hit the gym.
"My workouts are certainly not as intense as they used to be. I do the same type of workouts like I always have, just lower weight and more repetitions," she admitted. "It's a little frustrating how much strength I have lost."
But, now that she has finished her chemotherapy treatments and her doctor has informed her that radiation treatments will not likely have any side effects on her body.
"I'm excited to build up my strength again," Mercer said, adding that she has since returned to the gym on a daily basis.
"During my treatments, I would be sick for about a week, then the following week I would feel pretty good, so I would make it to the gym daily until my next treatment," she said.
And, following her recent engagement to her boyfriend, whom she credits for her love of bodybuilding, she plans to wait until after the wedding before entering her next competition.