Shannan McWaters is truly a testament to the strength and grit of the human spirit.

As a highly active person, movement has always been Shannan’s outlet of choice. In a series of events that transpired over nearly a decade, Shannan was forced to navigate life’s challenges without always having access to this tool, while fighting her way back to physical wellness.

The former cheerleader played competitive state sectionals and nationals USTA tennis for ten years until she tore her ACL in 2013 and couldn’t make a comeback, despite several replacement and revision surgeries.

Instead, the go-getter began frequenting the Orange Theory gym in Germantown, six days a week, at 5:30 a.m.

As a realtor, Shannan is quite hands-on, and so in 2018, when she was moving furniture to stage a sale home, the mom of three (Maisen–23, Tate–21, and Billy –10), ruptured a disk in her neck and had to undergo cervical spine surgery. The resulting procedure and debilitating pain put Shannan into a 2.5 year-long exercise sabbatical.

As someone who gains mental clarity from exercise, Shannan recalls this being one of “the darkest, weakest place[s] of [her] life.”

In 2020, a fully-recovered Shannan tore her ACL and MCL, and fractured her knee while trying to perform an old cheerleading move for one of her eccentric real estate videos.

However, that did not stop the newly-divorced powerhouse in 2021 from co-founding The Firm, a Memphis-based real estate company.

“Those eight months were the hardest, most beautiful months of my life.”

During that same time, Shannan discovered she had the PALB2 gene mutation, which put her at an 80% risk for triple-negative breast and ovarian cancers. So, in January 2022, Shannan underwent a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction, as well as a full hysterectomy shortly thereafter.

As you may have learned, McWaters is not easily discouraged.

Together with private trainer Daavon Grayson of Body by Daavon in Cordova, Shannan began a three-month strength and weight training regimen, eating clean, eliminating alcohol, and increasing supplement intake.

“If my body is out, my mind is out. If my body is strong, my mind will always be stronger.”

She credits her quick recovery to this, having returned to work two weeks postsurgery, the events of which would normally keep someone down for much longer.

“It wasn’t my mentally strongest time, but I just did it.” Shannan refuses to stop; she holds steadfast an unwavering determination to figure things out, and a belief that she can do it.

Whatever area of life it is, Shannon always puts in 100%.

“I’m extra in every single area of my life, pedal to the medal, and exercise is a big part of that.”

By Shlomit Ovadia
Photo by Christen Jones