“Should I do it?”

I had been asking my girlfriend this question over and over. At the end of January, I found myself doing my usual routine of scrolling through internet and social media updates and a promotion, shared by a friend, caught my eye. It was calling for applications for the next Haymakers for Hope event. Haymakers for Hope is a non-profit that puts on amateur boxing events to raise money for cancer awareness, research, support, and care.

I had friends who participated in this event in 2021 and have been considering applying ever since. It seemed like an incredibly fulfilling experience that offered a unique opportunity to give back and participate in a new sport. Now seemed as perfect a time as any. Late one night, after some liquid courage, I hit the submit button for my application, narrowly beating the deadline.

After hitting submit, the whole application process became a bit of an afterthought, until I received this email:

Things suddenly got real

What I had envisioned being feelings of excitement quickly turned to feelings of nervousness, fear, and anxiousness. Was I prepared for this journey? Would I have what it takes?

My first few boxing classes reminded me of my first few months at the Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC) two years ago, when I felt excited but also overwhelmed. I had to learn my role, which is to showcase how our services can assist in improving health care in Colorado. As administrator of the Colorado All Payer Claims Database (CO APCD), CIVHC has access to the state's most comprehensive claims data set and offers many different services and solutions for all Change Agents. What seemed easy, was quite difficult to understand and explain, at first. I discovered the challenge of trying to absorb everything at once. There were so many different audiences, data sets, reports, acronyms, and more, that I did not know where to begin.

Boxing is similar. At the beginning, I was getting confused trying to focus on my footwork and balance, while also throwing and defending against different combinations.

- Jab, jab, cross

- Jab, cross, hook

- Jab, cross, parry, slip, roll, hook, cross

Our coaches emphasize mastering the basics, as little mistakes in the ring can have big consequences. Repetition of the fundamentals has been crucial, as well as maintaining focus and not trying to do everything all at once. Starting fresh at CIVHC, with new co-workers and responsibilities, I was eager to impress. It would've served me so much better to have embraced the “fundamentals and basic” technique and learned CIVHC and its operations. Instead, I hindered myself by moving too quickly, trying to do too many things, and making too many basic mistakes.

Boxing may be an individual sport, but it requires an incredible support system of coaches and training partners, often referred to as your “corner.” In all walks of life, we need people or persons that encourage us and hold us accountable if we want to grow. Thankfully, my “corner” at CIVHC came through, welcoming me with open arms, and being patient during my first couple of weeks. More importantly, they offered tremendous guidance at a time when it was easy to feel lost or overwhelmed. Their support has also spilled over throughout these past couple of months of training, and I cannot stress enough how important this has been.

There have been very tough days that have left me or my training partners with bloody noses, bruised faces, and egos as well. Despite the brutality of those days, I somehow ended up feeling good. I would get home and shower, physically and mentally exhausted. Weirdly, the pain and fatigue became almost satisfying, as I began to see all the hard work pay off. Yet, these past couple of weeks it has become more difficult. My body seems to always be in pain or aching. With “fight night” so close, now is the time that I must stay the most focused, and remind myself why I’m fighting.

Sadly, it seems that we all have become accustomed to having known someone who has had cancer. What is inspiring to me is that every single person I’ve known who had cancer always battled. None of them gave up, especially on themselves, an attitude I believe is becoming increasingly prevalent. I want to fight for those who have battled and those who continue to battle, but may need additional support in their corner. That is why I’ve chosen to support Children’s Hospital of Colorado Experimental Therapeutics Program, benefiting children and adolescents who have recurrent cancer. If they can battle cancer, I can step inside a ring.

So here I am, with “fight night” looming on June 14th at the Mission Ballroom. I’m tired, bruised, and battered, but reminded that not all fights end at the bell. Most importantly, I must remember I’m not alone on this journey. I have the support in my corner, it’s up to me utilize it, as I continue to push myself to limits my body and mind didn’t know existed.