Britain’s toughest grandmother cheated death three times to become a powerlifting champion and is still pumping iron at the age of 76.
Pat Reeves survived a high-speed car crash and two terminal cancer diagnoses.
She started weightlifting in 1982, at the age of 36, after receiving her first terminal diagnosis due to a brain tumour.
The grandmother-of-two switched to a plant-based diet and started running marathons and weight training in hopes it would stop her slow-growing tumour.
She was encouraged by her bodybuilding coach to try powerlifting and fell in love with it, quickly breaking records and earning titles at the competitions she entered.
For 10 years, she traveled the world competing in national and global events – lifting 135 kilos (297 pounds) to a bodyweight of 42 kilos (92 pounds) at her peak.
But in December 1993, at age 48, she was devastated by another diagnosis of terminal cancer; this time she was told she had osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.
Reeves refused to let him defeat her and continued her healthy and active lifestyle in an effort to shrink all 14 tumors, and was declared cancer-free in mid-2016.
In September 2018, she was involved in a high-speed crash that killed her driver and the driver of the other vehicle on the German Autobahn.
The accident left her lungs crushed and led to pulmonary fibrosis, a lung disease that occurs when lung tissue is damaged and scarred. He was told he only had three months left to live in June 2019.
Refusing to let him hold her back, Reeves is still pumping iron and in March lifted an incredible 60.5 kilos (133 pounds).
It was a new British Drug-Free Powerlifting Association (BDFPA) and World Drug-Free Powerlifting Federation (WDFPF) record for her age and weight category – and she has no intention of s ‘Stop.
Reeves, a nutritionist from Kingswinford in England’s West Midlands, said: “As soon as I got sick it sparked a competitive side in me and I fell in love with powerlifting.
“When my trainer first mentioned it, I thought he must be crazy when he told me how great those little girls lifted.
“My cancer diagnosis gave me this new way of living and thinking.
“I have traveled the world competing and breaking records.
“I always joked when I couldn’t lift 60 kilos I would quit – but I’m not there yet.
“I can’t think of a world where I don’t do powerlifting.”
Reeves refused to accept that she would only live two more years after her cancer diagnosis in 1982 and looked for ways to extend her life.
“I never stayed in one place for very long because of my workload,” she said.
“I was flying everywhere for my powerlifting events and to Germany for clinics.
“I got such a thrill at every event and when I did well.”
Reeves has broken around 200 records and can lift almost 300 pounds.
Having already beaten her first cancer diagnosis, she was shocked when her knee pain turned out to be bone cancer when she was just 48, but she took it in her stride and has now “deactivated” all his tumors.
She joined the BDFPA in 2005 and continued her powerlifting, but her accident in 2018 took a long time to recover mentally and physically.
“It was awful,” she said. “I had been involved in accidents before, but nothing so serious.”
Reeves was told she would only have three months to live after being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, but she again defied the odds.
“It still affects me,” she said.
“But I found a way to train and keep weightlifting even with my setbacks.”
She needs supplemental oxygen almost every day, but she’s still able to train three deadlifts a week and bench work four times a week.
In March 2022, she broke the world record by lifting just over 133 pounds and is expected to break it again in September 2022.
“I can only do one rep now,” said Reeves, who also wrote a book called A living miracle.
“I’ve had to adapt my training to my abilities since the accident, but I’ve found what works for me, but I’m still breaking my records and doing what I love.
“I am the oldest woman in my association.
“I may not be able to climb stairs or hills, but I can still do weightlifting.
“Every day is a bonus.”
This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.