Utah Utes gymnastics: Annabeth Eberle inspires others in fight against cancer
SALT LAKE CITY — Annabeth Eberle has come full circle as her former coach Megan Marsden said Friday night.
The former Ute gymnast was center stage drawing a standing ovation from the fans Friday night as she did time and time again while performing from 2002-05. This time, though, the standing ovation was for a different performance. Fans were applauding Eberle's fight against breast cancer on Breast Cancer Awareness Night named in her honor.
"It's definitely been an eye-opening experience," said Eberle. "I just wanted to show people you can come back from something like this."
Looking back, Eberle said she reminded herself she was strong and mentally tough. For a former gymnast mental toughness is nothing new, but this battle required a different type of mental toughness.
"I was never going to give up and thought to myself this has to be happening to me for a reason," said Eberle. "I want to live my life and that pushes me."
Eberle admitted though that the battle was difficult at times.
"In gymnastics you are out there as a team. This fight had me feeling so individualized, which was really different," explained Eberle.
But Eberle has found a way to get back that team support, as she speaks with others fighting cancer and by attending support groups.
The Nevada native said even last week a young woman contacted her after seeing her story posted on Facebook. The woman asked Eberle to help her because she too had been diagnosed with cancer and was at a loss on how to deal with it.
"When you are young you think no way will this happen to me," said the 27-year old Eberle. "It really does happen. It helped me to tell her my story and to get it out. I really think that talking about it helps."
And so she has. Friday fans watched video clip after video clip with Eberle telling her story and asking fans to take care of their health. And in a night named after Eberle, where fans donned pink in support of breast cancer awareness, only a few tears were shed.
"She has been so upbeat and excited about helping us with this, so I think that helped keep it from being a cryfest," said Marsden who expressed a great appreciation to Eberle for sharing her message with the community.
"I am not really comfortable with the sharing and speaking yet, but I feel it is important to get people thinking," said Eberle.
Up next, Eberle begins physician's assistant school this May. In the meantime, she'll train for her first triathlon. And as for coming full circle, that happened when the fans who once watched her hit 105-of-107 career routines shared in the celebration that she is cancer free.
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