(WSMV) - If you know anyone that’s lived through a traumatic event, there’s a good chance it changed their life.
That’s especially true for Shemeka Turner, a two-time breast cancer survivor who gave up her career to inspire others with a new full-time pursuit.
“Cancer took everything from me. I thought everything in life was gone. I was left with only the smallest, tiniest joy,” she says, seated in an exercise room at a gym in South Nashville. “I literally looked at my kids and tried to prepare them to be in the world by themselves.”
On October 19, Shemeka celebrated five years cancer-free. During these past several years, she completely changed her life.
“I thought I understood what life was about. I came from the projects, I built a thing. I chased life. And I realized I wasn’t doing my life work,” she says, detailing her college education in criminal justice and several decades she spent as an investigator.
She won’t go back to that career. Instead, she now spends her days and nights inspiring others to find joy in life. She does it as a full-time cardio dance instructor with a company called Lionheart Fitness.
Shemeka says it was in the hospital, staring her mortality in the face, that she realized she better get busy living.
“This is how I got out of the bed, from chemotherapy,” she says while dancing in her chair. “I feel like it’s why I’m breathing.”
In the hospital, Shemeka got on her feet and began lifting the spirits of everyone else around her and hasn’t stopped since. “Survivor or not, you’re surviving something. It may not be breast cancer,” she says. “And so we’re choosing. And if you’re going to be choosing and you’re breathing, you might as well choose to find some joy.”