JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When you watch Gabrielle Andrews lift more than 100 lbs, you would never believe at one point in her life she could barely move.
"It was really painful just getting up and walking down the stairs was really painful and about as much as I could do," Andrews said.
After losing her father in July of 2008 and two other family members the same year, she began to feel very sick. She developed pain in her feet, hands and joints that progressively got worse. At one point was hospitalized and even tested for cancer, but she didn't have cancer.
What she had was Lupus an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks healthy tissue. It wasn't until 2011 that she started to feel a bit better.
"I remember thinking 'OK I don't hurt as much anymore', so I began working more and becoming more active again and started working out again," said Andrews.
Not only is she working out, Gabrielle Andrews is a rising star in the sport of CrossFit in Northeast Florida.
"As far as what she has done, what she has been able to accomplish and continues to push for is pretty phenomenal to watch," says her coach and owner of Bold City CrossFit, Nathan Long.
Andrews says her doctors told her not to do CrossFit because it puts stress on the body, but Andrews says working out helps her forget about Lupus and she doesn't want to live her life in fear of the disease. Although, having Lupus has taught her some big life lessons.
"It just makes me feel like I appreciate the sport more and appreciate my health more and not take things for granted because it can be taken away like that," said Andrews.
As she prepares for her next competition, she knows there is nothing in the future too heavy or big she can't overcome.
"I never dreamed that I would be where I am and I can still do amazing things with Lupus and you can feel good again," tells Andrews.
May is Lupus Awareness Month. For more information on Lupus, here is the site for the Lupus Foundation of Florida: http://hstrial-lupusfoundati.intuitwebsites.com/
For more information on Bold City CrossFit: http://boldcitycrossfit.com/
First Coast News