Female bodybuilder won't let cancer and chemo stop her


Chemo is tough, but this female bodybuilder — who refuses to give up working out even after her cancer diagnosis — is tougher.

Read: 74-Year-Old Breast Cancer Survivor Beating Women Half Her Age in Bodybuilding Contests

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.

Read: Woman Claims She Was Kicked Out of Her Gym Over Her Revealing Workout Attire

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."

SEE MORE: Alexis won't stop

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Female bodybuilder fights cancer
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Female bodybuilder fights cancer
#chemo is officially in my rear view- radiation is up next but we won't let that stop us.. time to buckle down & get in the best shape & health of our lives. Who is with me?! 👱🏼‍♀️🙋🏼 I'm officially sweating for the wedding 👰🏼 .... check out my precious sports bra my sweet friend got made for me #flexforlex @tayfit22
Finally got my man back in the gym with me 🤗 rocking & obsessing over his @official_otomix shoes 🤙🏼
When you have goals, you go straight to them gym after #chemo. 😳 you may wanna throw up & fall asleep between sets but thank goodness I had @writch_fit there to push me 🙌🏼💕 today was scheduled to be #legday but I doubt that workout would have been productive so we switched to arms-- turned out to be a great workout 💪🏼
Feeling so much better physically & definitely mentally now that I have @thefigureprincess as my coach. Changes will be slow- I still have plenty of rolls, cellulite & a swollen face from chemo steroids but we are making due. I'll be ready to hit the ground running in January after chemo is over with. We have some exciting plans for 2017 😊 #mybaldheadisalwaysfreezing... side note- I love me some @sweetsweat 💛 tan by @rossaselftanning - super easy to apply, looks AMAZING, smells great & makes me feel so sassy & fabulous
Two pieces of my heart- I really have the best friends/support system I could ever dream of. We are kicking cancer's bootay so hard. Received my TENTH treatment today... only TWO more!!! Praising Jesus💗 #hodgkinslymphoma #cancersucksbutgodisgood #livestrong
Happy Halloween & 1 year to my Boo👻
Here I am during #chemo (7 rounds down, 5 to go).. so much different than #beforechemo. I think I've lost around 12 pounds or more of muscle. My shoulders that I used to love are so gone. 😫 I'm the most sad about that! I just renewed my gym membership- I took a whole month and a half off but I really haven't seriously lifted since July 2nd before all of this craziness. This last round of chemo was so good so I'm hoping I can stay in the gym this time without too many off days. I'm so ready for life after cancer🤗 but I am enjoying life with cancer right now bc I have no other choice 😊 #hodgkinslymphoma #npc #figurecompetitor #cancersucksbutgodisgood
#throwback -- I don't care about being ab-less but I do care about having chunk leggies right now.. Exciting for what's to come 😼 @team_divisionsupplyco @division_supply #weLIFT #weBEAST #divisionsupplyco #npc #figurecompetitor
Haha! Throwback to our gym photoshoots- which I miss so much. Oh and those muscles.. Miss the heck out of those toon😩😒 @writch_fit @team_divisionsupplyco @division_supply #weLIFT #weBEAST #hodgkinslymphoma #npcfigure #bodybuilding #fitlife #betterbodies
Came across the pics & thought I would share 😜 This is how/when we knew something cray cray was going on with my body.. Bottom right pic of my hands was on July 4th- took a Benadryl (thought I may have gotten stung by something) & all was well. Went to the gym the next day and it happened again- you can see my left arm is swollen and purple & the veins on the left side of my neck were acting funky too. So we threw in the towel and went to an urgent care that night- doc gave me steroids and said I was basically OK. 🤔 I knew something was up.. So we went to my primary doc the following morning- my HR and BP was thru the roof- she sent me to the ER to get tests ran. VERDICT-- a tumor is sitting on a vein that comes from my arm to my heart which was causing all this craziness- thankfully we had those signs! Praying that dern thing is currently shrinking 💃🏻 #hodgkinslymphoma
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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.

Read: Wrestler Pops the Question to Opponent Girlfriend in the Middle of Match

"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.

Watch: Woman Diagnosed With Breast Cancer After Finding Abnormal Bruise: 'I Was Never Meant to Have Cancer'

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