Wife, Mother, Taekwondo Student Fights On

Placer County, CA (MPG)  |  By Rick Reed
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She says she takes after her mom, and looks much younger than her 44 years. A wife and mother herself, Monique Griffith is also a fighter. With family and friends in support she is an accomplished victor in her first battle. Like many women she faced breast cancer, fought and won, once. This time her story is about second chances, a caution to other survivors and a way to share strength in the battle against cancer.

Six years later, she is battling cancer, again. This time however she has discovered a new weapon that is helping her remain strong as the struggle resumes. This breast cancer survivor is training in a martial art. “I kind of enjoy doing things that maybe I shouldn’t be able to do,” like having purple and pink hair that Monique is proud to show off and won’t like losing. She explains the diagnosis with, “Doctors say they can’t cure it they can just try to keep it stable for now.” Despite that unwelcome news, she remains strong in her desire to remain positive and keep fighting. While dealing with the news, Monique says she found strength and focus to help her as she tested to win her Black Belt in Taekwondo. “In Taekwondo training, where do I start.” she says, “I have gained so much strength, my body stronger and my mind so much sharper because I am constantly memorizing and learning, pushing myself.”

Her daughter, twelve-year-old Emily is her joy in life and an important aspect of TKD classes was training, challenging and growing together on the mats. “I’ve had a goal to get my Black Belt for sixteen years” Monique says, “Emily decided she wanted to train so I signed her up, and then I couldn’t stand it so I signed up too.” She remains upbeat with the support of her family at home and community at Robinson’s Taekwondo Rocklin, “It’s given me something to look forward to and I achieved my Black Belt right before my Stage 4 diagnosis. It was something I wanted to do to prove to myself that I could do it.” Black Belt instructor in Rocklin, Clint Weithington says “No changes to the program for Monique, she rocked the full test to win her Black Belt, and I don’t think she would have it any other way!”

Her story also serves notice to all who are impacted by breast cancer that winning the battle may not end the war. Doctors say Monique has a recurrence of cancer stemming from her original breast cancer, now stuck in the lining of her lungs making it inoperable. Despite this new challenge, this mom and wife keeps faith by continuing her martial arts training. It helps in many ways beyond just the physical according to Monique, “The friendships that I formed with classmates, strong deep friendships. We are family, going to each other houses, going to each other’s parties. We support each other and having that support since I was diagnosed as Stage 4 has been phenomenal.”

As she laughs and says, “I very much enjoy a challenge.” That same indomitable outlook has grown into a powerful new tool for Monique. TKD’s healthy fitness the Black Belt endurance and strength gives her new tools to utilize in managing chemo-therapy daily. With radiation therapy added to treatment she explained, “As an adult in my 40’s whose gone through that difficult diagnosis again, it proved to me that I am not done.” Her family and her TKD community support her, and she says getting the Black Belt and training with her daughter and friends show her life is not over, “Absolutely, it did so much for my confidence, and it made me feel normal again. After going through what I have to sometimes just feeling normal is all you want.”

Monique says Taekwondo is also a way to help Emily learn, “She just didn’t like any sports, so this was the first time she actually loved a physical activity. It’s good for her body, it’s good for her mind and she knows that nobody will hand her a Black Belt.”. She knows that when she has a goal she can win by training hard. As her Black Belt mom says, “I can’t hand her this. It’s taught my daughter a lot about growing up, taking responsibility and working hard. It’s also given us something to do together.” And no matter what as Monique continues treatment, she says, “I know Emily can take care of herself.” Emily is now training to win a Black Belt and for Monique this is quality time.

Even with her cancer challenges her only fear was giving up, “At first, diagnosed at Stage 4 I was really heartbroken because I thought my Taekwondo career is over. I was really upset.” She says, “My husband and I talked and he said, ‘you know what just keep going until you hit a brick wall’, so I decided to go ahead and earn a Second Degree for Black Belt.” And she says, “As long as my body allows it I will keep pushing it. That has given me a goal to look forward to every day going to Robinsons. The work ethic, the process of learning new things, getting a belt.” Monique says she chose Robinson’s because, “I really loved the balance, the fun while learning discipline, respect and the will power of perseverance in never surrendering.”

Cancer is a life and death fight but never surrendering your positive outlook, having goals, family and friends makes life worth the battle.