By Liana Jacob
MEET the brave cancer survivor who reclaimed her strength through strength sports and can deadlift almost twenty-nine-stone despite escaping an abusive relationship that led her to become homeless for two months.
Fashion assistant manager, Julia Hamilton (29), from Texas, USA, grew up with her single mother, who has always been her biggest supporter. At the age of 18, she entered into an abusive relationship that forced her to run away from him a year later, despite having nowhere to live.
She would then spend two months sleeping in her car for most of the time before sleeping on her family friend’s couch, until her mum found them an apartment.
Around the same time, she was told by her doctors that she was at the early stages of cervical cancer, a type of cancer that develops in a woman’s cervix (the entrance to the womb from the vagina). She would undergo biopsies every three months in the first year, then every six months for two years.
The experiences of being beaten down motivated her to get involved in strength sports and has now been lifting for four years, working out at least five times a week; with the ability of squat lifting 33st 3Ibs, bench pressing just over 16st, deadlifting 28st 13Ibs and can carry a 46st 6Ibs weight over her shoulders for a distance of 15.24 meters.
“The abusive relationship started when I was eighteen until I was nineteen. He was horrible to me. He was abusive in every way possible; physically, verbally, emotionally, and sexually,” Julia said.
“He tried his damnedest to break me. I ended up homeless because I had to get away from him no matter the cost. I couldn’t move in with my mum at the time because her living situation did not allow it.
“So, I slept in my car for a while and then when family friends found out they let me stay on the couch for a week.
“My mum ended up getting both of us an apartment, I couldn’t get my own because the relationship had also cost me my job as well. I was out of a home for about two months.
“Just before I left him, I found out about the early stages of cervical cancer. It shattered my whole world. Being so young I felt like a huge part of my life was over.
“I had to go and get many of biopsies that were extremely painful and had to do that every three months the first year, then every six months for two years.
“My reason for getting involved in strength sports was that it helped me find strength when I was at my weakest. Not just physically but emotionally, mentally, spiritually.
“It has brought a complete growth and transformation for me. Feeling strong, brought a new perspective to my life. I have been lifting for four years now and started training strongman a year ago.
“You’re constantly challenging and surprising yourself. It’s incredibly empowering. Not to mention the muscle tone is pretty wonderful. I want to be the world’s strongest woman, nothing less.
“It has been a huge struggle the last couple years especially in terms of training. But I’m an overcomer and I’ve worked really hard to get myself into a balanced place right now.”
Around 3,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in the UK a year. While women of all ages are likely to develop the cancer, it mainly affects sexually active women between the ages of 30 and 45.
In the UK, just under 1,000 women die from cervical cancer each year. According to the NHS, cervical screening is the best way to detect abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix at an early stage. Women can begin this process from the age of 25.
Julia says that while it was difficult to walk into the gym without being stared at, she has since been approached by men about her strength.
“Love hasn’t been hard. Men are the ones that often have something to say or some weird fetish about it though. Many guys just seem shocked, or impressed,” she said.
“I often get the ‘you can easily beat me up’, or ‘it both scares me and turns me on that you can lift more than me.’ But that just comes back to the ego that society breeds into men, that they have to be the stronger of the pair.
“The love of my life was actually the one who got me to start lifting and he has supported me ever since. The thing I have found is that strength attracts strength.
“I had to get used to people watching me. It used to make me so uncomfortable, but I’ve gotten practise now at tuning it out and focusing.
“But honestly for the most part I get good reactions in the gym. Shock and awe, or possibly people thinking something negative.
“It’s really none of my business what others are thinking about me in the gym, I’m there to put in work. There is always some sense of negativity, it mostly comes out on social media.
“Social media otherwise has been incredible. The amount of people that show love and support and find inspiration in me leaves me completely speechless.
“Don’t hesitate on starting. Starting can be scary, but the longer you hold off the longer you are holding yourself back.”
For more information visit: https://www.instagram.com/ladybeast_juju/