Krystal Cantu is an American crossfit athlete who lost her right arm above the elbow in an automobile accident. Just a few weeks after her surgery, Krystal was in her coach’s garage with a kettlebell in her hand. “I guess I just realized sooner rather than later that it’s life,” says the 34-year-old athlete.
“I’ve never been the person to sit down and cry about anything. The day the accident happened, I was already thinking about how I was going to get back to my normal life. I was doing CrossFit and working before; I just wanted to get back to living the way I was living.”
Read her story:
I was born in Edinburg, Texas on May 9th of 1989. We were a family of four; my mother, father, sister and myself. My parents never had much but we lived the happiest and fullest life with what we had. I knew my parents struggled financially and they did everything in their power to raise my sister and I in a way where we grew to be strong and independent in a life we could hold on our own.
Growing up I was involved in sports, specifically softball. My father enrolled me into little leagues and I quickly grew to love the sport, camaraderie and competitive aspect of it. I continued to play all throughout high school and joined a co-ed team during my first years of college.
I’ve been athletic almost my whole life and I’m glad I was, because it taught me life lessons that I will forever be grateful for. In May of 2012 I graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with my bachelors in Communications. In the year leading up to my final days in college, my life was exactly where I wanted it to be.
Late 2011, I found myself on the Internet watching a promotional video for a Tough Mudder. Tough mudder is a 12-13 mile obstacle course that includes freezing cold water, 12-foot walls, electrical wires and many more. I sat there wondering why in the hell people would voluntarily sign up for something like that. I then saw the faces of people crossing the finish line and immediately knew I wanted to feel exactly what they were feeling at that moment. I wanted to feel accomplished, happy, strong, all of the above. I found that the next closest Tough Mudder in Texas would take place in January of 2013. I signed up, trained, and by the end of 2012 I claimed a total of 3 Tough Mudder headbands and 2 Spartan Race metals.
At the age of twenty-four I was working at a company that I worked extremely hard to get into. I was one of the lucky ones who got to say I had my dream job and I woke up every morning excited to see what the day would bring. I was healthy, in shape and starting a new relationship. There was nothing more that could bring me such happiness then when I was in that chapter of my life.
In April of 2013, I was introduced to the sport of crossfit. If you asked anyone at that time what I thought of crossfit, they would gladly tell you that I was against it. I had heard so many negative comments that I quickly turned that into my own personal concept of crossfit.
That concept quickly changed the day I decided to put my pride aside and take my first crossfit class. It wasn’t the workout of the day that had me coming back for more; it was the coaches, the people, and the environment. I had never experienced anything like it and little did I know that it was going to save my life.
On August 2nd of 2013, I was involved in a car accident that resulted in the amputation of my right arm above my elbow. My boyfriend, Daniel, and I were on our way to see our families who lived 4 hours away. It was a beautiful Friday morning that was quickly darkened when our tire all of a sudden blew out and all control of the vehicle was lost.
As I sat in the grass with strangers surrounding me, I couldn’t help but only think of the first crossfit competition I had signed up to do a couple of weeks from that day. Nothing else seemed to cross my mind but crossfit and I’m glad it did. I mentally prepared myself for what was to come, had a successful surgery and was back at my apartment three days later.
I lost a lot that day. I lost confidence in myself as a woman, I lost dreams and I lost a piece of me that I didn’t think I could ever get back. My arm was never and will never be something I consider as a loss, it was everything that the eye couldn’t see. I stayed strong on the inside and out for my family, my boyfriend and my friends. I pushed myself to learn to live a normal life very quickly for them. The last thing I wanted was for the important people in my life to see me weak, because I wasn’t raised to be weak. I still deal with my losses, but never in public. I still cry, but never when anyone can see.
I went back to crossfit a month after my accident because I wanted to prove to others and myself that I was still the same strong willed person since before the accident. I found comfort and relief in doing crossfit. I found confidence and I found the piece of me I thought I had lost forever.
Crossfit saved my life and it helped me find the super woman that I had inside me all along. I have competed in a number of crossfit competitions, beat my personal records countless times, inspired people around the world and put myself in a chapter of my life that I never want to end. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I was put in that vehicle, on that day and in that time to blossom and be an example to the masses that life doesn’t have to stop or end because of one tragic event; it can be made into the most beautiful life when you believe in yourself.
Congratulations, you are an inspiration to all of us.