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29 Seriously Incredible Things People's Bodies Have Achieved

From beating cancer to saving someone else's life to nailing that solo against all odds, people talk about the awe-inspiring things their bodies have achieved. Warning: Includes detailed discussions about eating disorders, self-harm, rape, kidnapping, and abusive relationships.

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1. The double-cancer smasher:

"My body has been through two bouts of cancer (cervical and uterine), 15 surgeries for stage IV endometriosis, and a hysterectomy and bowel resection... and now, even after the hysterectomy, it's fighting the endometriosis again. My body is strong and fierce; we've been through hell together, but we will succeed and survive!" —paulat40218dd78

2. The gift giver:

"I started a kidney chain that ended up giving three people kidneys, including an 8-year-old boy who had only a 3% chance of ever finding a donor. Thousands of people were tested for this little boy, but it was my kidney and the kidneys of others in the chain that found him a match." —a4380bbc9d

3. The dreamer and doer:

"My body gave me a new career. I started training in circus arts at the age of 27 — 20 years later than most circus professionals start! As an adult, learning to gain the strength, flexibility, and quality of movement needed to be a professional circus artist was the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done." —Vee Smith, Facebook

4. An appendix assist:

"My doctor found cancer during my appendectomy. It's pretty cool that my appendix gave itself up to alert me that I was sick, and now I've beat the cancer too." —David Matayabas, Facebook

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5. Heaven on wheels:

"I have dyspraxia, so I often fall or drop things for no reason. Despite that, I have become a competent roller derby player. I'm constantly amazed that even though I get checked by gravity regularly on flat shoes, when I'm on wheels, my body feels 100% mine." —Ruth Jepson, Facebook

6. The definition of a busy body:

"My body made a person at the same time I had a malignant tumor in my brain." —Booksnotboys

7. The climb conquerer:

"I was the fat kid who couldn't run the kilometer in school and got picked last for gym class. When I hiked the Chilkoot Trail years later, I became the first person my guides had ever seen complete the summit climb with energy to spare. Who would have thought that awkward and non-athletic kid would one day conquer the 30 meanest miles in history? It was the most incredible week of my life." —Rae Crothers, Facebook

8. Crash and (re)learn:

"I was hit head on by a transport truck that had crossed the center line on the road, and was trapped in my car for two hours in -15° weather. My femur was snapped in half and sticking out of my leg, and the gash on my forehead from the steering wheel mixed with all the glass of my windshield had blinded me. Still, I was awake for the whole thing, and called emergency services (thank god for Siri!), which airlifted me to the hospital. I almost bled out in my car, but little over a year later I am walking again, and relearning to run, jump, and climb stairs. The human body is a miracle." —pab4cc4d8f30

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9. "It's handled":

"I suffer from chronic pain due to fibromyalgia, endometriosis, and IBS. My back might hurt so badly I can barely stand straight, or I'll have a tension headache, or my pelvic pain leaves me on the floor — and on top of that, I suffer from major depression. So each day I get up and make it into work, for the whole day, is a win in my book. My body tells me on a daily basis that it's in pain, but it also tells me that I can handle anything." —CallieJo Funk Hazeltine, Facebook

10. Beating the odds:

"I was born with a rare and potentially deadly disease where the left portion of my heart was extremely underdeveloped and didn't work. But I had a heart transplant at 1 month old, and I'm still doing great." —Generalhux

11. The fighter:

"When I was 15, I was kidnapped, raped, and almost strangled to death, but I was able to break my attacker's nose and knock the wind out of him long enough to get away. I didn't think about it or have a plan at all — I just made a fist, fought, and escaped. The most amazing thing my body has ever done is react and protect me." —MagsNcheese

12. Amputated and awesome:

"My body is fucking rad! It recovered from stage III osteosarcoma and my resulting amputation. I love my one-leggedness, and my 3-year-old daughter truly loves my stump. It is very cool to be alive." —malcolmburrito

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13. Don't sweat the technique:

"I took my 215-pound body to spin class for the first time. I knew I would be hard. I was the heaviest girl in the room and was dripping in sweat, but I've never been so impressed with my body. I'm sore, but I'm proud." —katelynh4

14. A labor of love:

"Shortly before my daughter was due, I started vomiting and experiencing severe chest pain. After some blood tests, my doctor diagnosed me with HELLP syndrome (the result of preeclampsia that went undiagnosed). I was induced that day, and after 13.5 hours and no pain medicine after seven centimeters, I stopped dilating. I was given magnesium to prevent me from having a seizure, which weakened my muscles, but my body took over and 45 minutes later I had my beautiful baby girl. Being that sick was terrifying, but the experience of natural childbirth was amazing, and the love I have for my daughter allowed me to heal. I am in awe of my amazing body and its instincts." —tayloralyssab

15. Très amazing:

"I climbed the Eiffel Tower. I have really bad asthma and other breathing problems, and when I heard that my tour couldn't take the elevator due to time constraints, I really thought I would have to sit it out. But my amazing tour guide talked me into trying, and I did it! It was the most amazing feeling, and I know now that I can do anything." —emilyw113

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16. Armed and dangerously amazing:

"When I was 11, I severed my arm down to the bone in an accident, cutting my brachial artery. The quick thinking of the surgeons and other people who handled me kept me not only alive, but with my arm intact. Your wrists and fingers are controlled by the tendons and ligaments that run the length of your arm, so I had to learn to use everything again — but even though there are some things I can't do, it's amazing that I got as much use back as I did. Cheers, body!" —Caytybrady

17. The swole sister:

"When I started lifting weights, I struggled to be able to lift the 45-pound plates in order to load the machines. Now, I can manage a 405-pound deadlift. I can't believe how much stronger my body has become!" —LeashaLeash

18. Resilient Ruth:

"My body has survived years of cutting, substance abuse, and two suicide attempts due to depression and OCD. And now, I'm stronger than ever." —ruthhk

19. Helping hands:

"I have a disorder where my immune cells attack my own organs, so it often feels as if my body is against me, but a part of my body I'm so grateful for is my hands. Although they sometimes tremble with fatigue, I can do so much with them: I can speed-knit through muscle memory, I can draw, I can build a table, I can feel how soft my cat is, I can cook for my family, I can braid my friends' hair, I can squeeze and hug and tickle and caress. Even when the rest of my body isn't working so well, there is so much of life I get to experience just through my hands." —Julia Staron, Facebook

20. Radical recovery:

"My body is recovering from my years-long battle with anorexia. Last summer, I finally got the help I needed and began to let my body heal. It still amazes me every day that when I stopped abusing my body and started nourishing it and listening to what it needed, it was able to repair the damage I caused and return to normal functioning. Eating disorders are mental illnesses first and foremost, but the physical havoc they wreak is no joke." —jenng3

21. Giving arthritis an ass-kicking:

"I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 5, and by 19, I was wearing knee braces and taking huge amounts of medication just to be able to walk. I'm 27 now, and dietary changes and regular chiropractic visits over the past several years have reduced my pain enough to hire a personal trainer. Since then, I've lost 60 pounds, painlessly run 12 miles at a time on knees with permanent soft tissue damage, regularly squatted well over 150 pounds, and haven't had a flare-up for over a year. Now I'm a trainer myself, and am preparing to enter my first figure competition in 2017. I love being a team with my body and 'beating the odds' together." —Melanie Nelson, Facebook

22. Singing through sickness:

"My school was doing a production of Godspell, and I had a solo in the song 'Learn Your Lessons Well.' But by the end of the first weekend, I was suffering from severe migraines, an infection that closed up my ear completely, and a throat infection so bad I couldn't even swallow water or Popsicles. I missed school and was up at night sobbing in pain, but by the time our next show rolled around, I managed to perform a very rigorous musical and rock my upbeat gospel solo. I don't know how I did it, but the audience never knew!" —mariajoannav

23. Power through panic:

"My body has endured panic and anxiety attacks for the past two years. It took me a long time to realize how amazing my mind and body are, and how strong I have become." —marcelab4c6971299

24. The doctor defier:

"I had an ovarian cyst burst in such a weird way and at such a young age that doctors had no idea what it was for the longest time. Once they figured it out, they told me my growth would be stunted, that I'd go through puberty early (I was 6 and it was happening), and even that my life could be cut considerably short. But a few months later, my chest went back to its normal 6-year-old flatness and I stopped having periods. Plus, I'm now taller than my mother, grandmother, and sister. Suck it, doctors." —juliaplaat

25. The abuse survivor:

"I survived an abusive relationship. My bruises faded, and my tears dried." —poohy220

26. The seizure savior:

"My mom had a seizure and started turning blue. I usually faint when my anxiety kicks into gear, and would have expected I'd be down for the count. But I knew what had to happen, and mind over matter I was able to resuscitate her and call 911. I thank god she's healthy now, and that my body was able to hold out and help her body." —erinr4e004f7cc

27. Nourishing and nuturing:

"Breastfeeding. Everything about it. Sustaining my daughter's life amazes me every day, and it gave me this new strength by having the will to continue through all of the challenges I've faced while doing it." —addisonsmom

28. Tumor, no more:

"My body kept a potentially deadly tumor from killing me for 15 years. I had every symptom in the book, and it was far larger than most, but doctors kept misdiagnosing me, and some of the treatments actually made it worse. When I finally got a proper diagnosis, my body also kept me alive through a very risky surgery to remove it (they forewarned me that even with a cardiac team in the room my chances of being brought back if I coded were slim, and my chances of coding were high). I have since gone on to start a foundation to increase awareness, and my body is proof that I am meant for something." —jenniferlowerys

29. Crushing Crohn's:

"I have Crohn's disease. I've had 30 operations to remove my large intestine, as well as three feet of small intestine and my rectum. Now, I have an ileostomy that I inject every week to lower my immune system. But my body still got me down the aisle to marry my husband, despite being in hospital 48 hours beforehand, through my under- and post-graduate degrees, and through every day in my dream job as a teacher. It's not perfect, but it's mine!" —katyh419728254

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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