Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cancer and Exercise

CT Fox, Certified Cancer Exercise Specialist

EXERCISE AND CANCER by CT Fox, Certified Cancer Exercise Specialist

“You have cancer.” These words rip through your entire being with the horrendous force of an atomic blast. Suddenly, everything is inside-out, upside-down. Your mind tries to wrap itself around this new and frightening reality. The somber-faced doctor looking at you from across his desk surely must have you mistaken for somebody else. How can this be? Are you kidding me? Will I die? Once having worked through the myriad of denials, when the acceptance of the news finally settles in, it does so with gut-wrenching agony.

You have entered a new and foreign world. Life is now no longer just about getting the kids ready for school, walking the dog, dropping off the laundry, planning dinner for the family, cleaning the house, meeting deadlines, spending time with friends, or the minutia of daily living. Life is now also about survival.

The speed at which things begin to happen can be terrifying. You quickly have to make some decisions regarding treatment that will move your life in a direction you never anticipated. Your life may seem like it is spinning completely out of control. “Overwhelmed” is an inadequate word for the experience.

There is nothing that can totally remove the fear and the shock of discovering that you have cancer. You can, however, do something significant that will help you regain the feeling of being in control of your life, your body, and your destiny EXERCISE!

You might be tired, depressed, frustrated, drained, worn-out, and have limited strength and functional capacity. Activities of daily living might become an unimaginable challenge. Good news; moderate physical exercise has been proven to help fight the possible physical and emotional side effects of cancer and associated treatment. It can be part of your personal recipe
for living stronger.

EXERCISE, your weapon, can help you make significant improvement in the following areas; stamina, functional capacity, strength, range of motion and flexibility, treatment tolerance, self-esteem, self-confidence, increased ability to perform activities of daily living.. Exercise can also help decrease pain, decrease depression and total mood disturbances, reduce sleep problems, anxiety, nausea, and cancer related fatigue. Quite simply, it can help you get your life back.

It has long been thought that staying active can lower the risk of getting cancer, but new findings
show that it can also be a valuable prescription for recovery.

A recent study, released March 2004, done by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston,
found that women who exercised after breast cancer reduced their chance of dying from the disease by one-quarter to one-half, depending on their level of activity.

Although there are many expert theories, it is biologically unclear as to how exercise
accomplishes this feat. Researchers do agree that moderate activity is an unquestionably
safe recommendation and that it can have a myriad of benefits.

For breast cancer survivors, getting back normal range of motion in the affected arm can be challenging, at best. The surgical arm can feel extremely tight. Simple tasks, such as reaching
a high kitchen cabinet can prove to be difficult.
Presumably, after surgery for breast cancer, the surgeon will refer the patient to a Cancer Exercise Specialist (or a physical therapist trained to work with breast cancer patients) for initial
assessment of range of motion, lymphedema precaution instructions, and exercise education.
If the surgeon has not offered that as a viable option to you, ask about it.

A Cancer Exercise Specialist can put together an exercise program that is tailored to your individual needs and limitations. A regimen of progressive milestones will undoubtedly provide you with a sense of accomplishment and confidence, as well as bolster your self-esteem.

The goals of your exercise program should include; increasing your energy levels; improve your posture by stretching tight muscles and strengthening muscles that are weak; increase your range of motion through stretching and movement exercises that emphasize your upper body, and
improving your quality of life by enhancing your physical and mental condition.

When you begin an exercise program, do not be discouraged if you find that you tire easily. Fighting and surviving cancer, takes emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental energy.
You might also find that certain movements cause you discomfort. Working through slight
discomfort is acceptable, but you should never try and work through any kind of pain.

Being consistent with your program will assist you in getting past these issues. It will also provide you with benefits you may not have even imagined possible when you were first diagnosed with cancer.

“Keeping up with a regular exercise program is great for my mental health.” It gives me something to look forward to, breaks up the monotony of my house-bound days, and gives me more energy. It helps me maintain a better self-image to see the positive changes in my body.
I feel strong and in control.

I believe that keeping physically active and keeping myself strong are going to help me fight and beat this not unconquerable enemy. Somebody has to beat the odds. There is absolutely no reason why it won’t be me.”

CJB – Stage IV uterine cancer

Hold close to your heart the fact that while cancer may have invaded your body, it does not have to invade your spirit.

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