By Nate Kolmodin
My mother was diagnosed in May 2004 and found much-needed peace in running. She said it kept her energy up, no matter how much she could exert herself, and kept her from feeling less than she was.
As she was running, she told me she could feel the endorphins kicking in. Almost every time she was finished running, she would return home with a ‘runner's-high’ and feel almost euphoric.
As the treatment increased from chemo to radiation, she exercised less and less, but as the treatment slowed her down, she still did her best to stay active and has been cancer-free since 2006.
I was little at the time and didn’t realize my mom had cancer until recently. I used to wait at the finish line of triathlons (with Team Survivor) for my mom to finish triumphantly, not knowing what that meant for her.
Now that I know, it makes me so proud of her, knowing my mother never gave up on herself, and the rest of our family.
Tips for Staying Active During Treatment
Below are some tips I’ve learned about staying active during treatment:
Exercise is good for everybody. It's essential for people with breast cancer to remember: Even though you may feel like nothing is in your control, you can always take care of your body in the most natural of ways- by moving it.
Exercise may feel exhausting to even think about, but in practice, it can make you less likely to have your cancer come back or progress compared with those who were inactive.
Any type of exercise can feel rewarding. Don’t feel the need to overwork yourself, it's important to pace yourself, and do what you and your doctor feel comfortable with.
Three Types of Exercise
Depending on your doctors’ advice, there are three types of exercise that can help your body and mind the most.
Stretching: Stretching is important to maintain mobility. If you aren’t ready for more vigorous exercise, being as flexible as possible is key. Yoga is a perfect example of a low impact and possibly spiritually fulfilling way to move your body.
Aerobic Exercise: Aerobic exercises such as running, swimming, and brisk walking are great options to burn calories and lose weight, while also building cardiovascular fitness, and lowering risk of stroke, heart attack, and diabetes.
Resistance Training: Resistance training is just a fancy term to describe weight lifting and isometric exercises such as wall sits, planks, and squats. Resistance training builds muscle. Many people lose muscle, but gain fat, through cancer treatment. For those with a high fat-to-lean mass ratio, resistance training can be especially helpful.
You Can Do This
I understand that none of this is a walk in the park (a good form of exercise), but if you spend 30 minutes to an hour a day, at least 5 days a week, your mood will increase and you will feel more relaxed. Keep us posted on how you are doing and feeling. We love to hear from you! Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking to start, with a supportive community? Check out our free, virtual movement offerings: https://www.survivingbreastcancer.org/movement-mondays