Our reactions to the experiences we endure illuminate our innate character and, for Andy Greenwood, he is the pinnacle of tenacity.
“My first experience (with leukemia) was at 14 years old; the second when I was 22,” said Greenwood, who is assistant vice president of development at Macerich.
Beyond being a two-time cancer survivor, Greenwood is also known within his community as a church leader, CrossFit coach, nutrition enthusiast and avid exerciser.
“I had a bone marrow transplant in January of 1992 for the first one, and the second, at 22, was treated with what’s called a donor lymphocyte infusion,” said Greenwood. “And then, life’s been great.”
Greenwood leads church groups at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, where he shares his past experiences with fighting leukemia as well as advocates for proper nutrition and exercise to improve health.
“You sit down and learn a lot about a lot of people, and that’s certainly been a component of my life that has been important to me,” said Greenwood.
Greenwood describes religion as a “turning point” in his life. He finds great value in discussions where he has the opportunity to disclose his personal journey, as well as learn about others’ experiences. He believes in learning and growing together.
Greenwood’s passion for exercise moved him to participate in CrossFit within the last four years, which ultimately led him to obtain a Level 1 certification and become a CrossFit coach.
“Now, I find myself sore, but that is connected to weight training, not general health,” said Greenwood. “I’ve never felt better. I’ve never been stronger. I’ve never been fitter as I go into my 40s.”
Greenwood believes that deeming nutrition and exercise as “paramount” would be an understatement.
“For a period of time, I had been undergoing esophageal strictures, a tightening of the esophagus, and it caused me to lose a lot of weight,” said Greenwood. “For whatever reason, having started to exercise and focusing on nutrition … was really a lifestyle change that went from not doing well nutritionally, and subsequently physically, to changing that dynamic in my life.”
Greenwood explains that there was a period of time where his nutrition plan was “religious.” He followed a macro diet, measured food, ate at very specific times and focused on attaining a healthy weight.
“This experience really has a tendency to help you understand what’s important in life, so a lot of inspiration mainly comes from understanding that there was a period of life where you couldn’t do what you wanted to do,” said Greenwood. “Not many cancer patients get an opportunity at a second chance, so there’s a desire to not waste it.”
Between serving his community as a church group leader, CrossFit coach, diet and exercise believer and being a father, Greenwood has certainly not wasted his second chance.
“In high school, after my initial round of treatment, I had a friend once tell me: ‘Keep your chin up and your back straight,’” said Greenwood. “That’s been a mantra of sorts that has always been there.”