This past weekend at the Branch Warren Classic, a bodybuilding competition at the Lone Star Convention Center, Chris Tarver waited patiently as the names of the third- and second-place winners in the overall novice division were announced.
“After they announced second and third I knew I was the winner,” said Tarver, who graduated from Montgomery High School in 2004. “It was the most emotional moment of my life.”
Earlier in the day, Tarver captured the heavyweight novice first-place trophy, making him eligible for the overall award. Once he won the overall title he had to hold back the tears.
“It took everything I had not to break down and cry,” Tarver said. “I really had to remain calm and keep my composure.”
On October 10, 2007, Tarver’s life completely changed when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
“When you’re young and the doctor says the word ‘cancer’ you tend to assume the worst,” Tarver said.
“It was heartbreaking,” Bill Tarver said of his son’s diagnosis. “It’s the kind of cancer that has a high cure rate. But when it’s your child, any survival percentage is not high enough.”
Chris Tarver had the surgery to have the cancer removed and underwent about four months of chemotherapy.
After the chemo, he decided to turn his hobby of casually working out at the gym into competitive bodybuilding.
“I was determined to use the competition (at the Lone Star Convention Center) to prove to myself and to my family that I was totally back from cancer,” Tarver said.
“He’s a survivor and a fighter,” Bill Tarver said. “The cancer took a lot out of him and he wanted to prove something to himself.”
Chris Tarver is taking online courses at Lone Star Community College and is working toward a degree in health and fitness management. He works as a personal trainer at Snap Fitness in Montgomery and hopes to someday be a fitness model.
“I have faith that God is going to point me toward the right career,” Tarver said. “Ultimately, I’d like to open my own nutrition shop and gym.”
It is a strong faith in God that Tarver said helped him beat cancer. On his left shoulder he has a tattoo of a cross and the Bible verse Psalms 56:11. The verse reads: “In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
“To me it means that if you have faith, wordly things like diseases can’t get the best of you,” Chris Tarver said. “Obstacles don’s mean anything as long as you have faith.”
Tarver played outside linebacker at Montgomery High School. By his own admission he was an average football player. Now he is making a name for himself in the world of bodybuilding and hopes to keep going. Up next is a possible competition in August in Dallas.
“It’s just an awesome thing to work hard and watch your body change,” Chris Tarver said. “If someone were to look at me now, they’d have no idea what I’ve been through.”
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