COLUMBIA — Among the field of power lifters at Lange Middle School for the Show-Me State Games on Saturday, Mary Easley, 55, was easy to spot. Her bright pink tank top and matching iPod were enough to catch anyone’s eye in a room with 113 competitors, the most the event has ever seen.
She began lifting weights after being diagnosed in 2005 with endometrial cancer, a form of uterine cancer. It is a cancer that is associated with excessive estrogen exposure, and to keep her estrogen levels low, Easley began exercising. Three years later she has four gold medals in power lifting at the Show-Me State Games over two years.
“I wanted to lose weight and building muscle is a way to do that,” Easley said.
After staying in shape for two years, Easley wanted to compete in the 2007 Show-Me State Games as a power lifter. But two months before the games, she had to have half her thyroid removed because of another cancer scare.
“She still had a visible mark when she was competing last year,” Glenn Easley, her husband, said.
Mary said that the surgery slowed down her training but didn’t end it. She would go on to win two gold medals and set records in both bench press and dead lift. For women in the 50-54 age group, she benched 115 pounds and dead-lifted 200 pounds.
This year she improved her bench by 5 pounds and her dead lift by 10, which was enough for her to earn her third and fourth gold medals.
“She is pretty inspiring. She’s one of those people who is always doing something,” Sarah Easley, her 22-year-old daughter, said.
Lifting weights and exercising has done more for Easley than just improving her physical well-being, it has led to her feeling livelier. After working out, she said she feels “jazzed,” and struts around.
At the end of the day she’ll be sore and during the next day, working as a nurse, she may regret the tough session.
“I don’t mind that kind of soreness, it’s like a badge of honor,” she said.
Even her daughter said she has noticed more swagger in her mom since she began lifting after the diagnosis.
“I do think that since she has been working out the last two to three years, she has been happier around the house,” she said.