Before my cancer diagnosis I thought I was fit and healthy, watching my diet and running 3 times a week. The ‘view’ that everyone is overweight and unhealthy that is diagnosed with cancer is not true. OK, I am an ex-smoker (12+ years) so there may be an association there. I had just had my second child later in life (35 for my 1st and 38 for my 2nd) so there may have been issues with that. Issues drinking alcohol and binge drinking which is, if we are quite honest, what a great number of women and men do (especially at weekend). All these factors could have played a part in my diagnosis of breast cancer. Even though the reports of ‘red wine gives hope in war on cancer’ makes me shout ‘pass the red!’ Unfortunately, I can’t drink to excess anymore as I end up very ill the next day due to it – my friends can vouch for that!
I loathed running at school and up to 10 years ago didn’t think I could do it. I originally started running with my sister in law but when I got pregnant with my second child I of course had to stop (not until 4 months into pregnancy though). I was due to start running again BUT 5 months after my little girl was born I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Shocked is a total understatement. After the chemotherapy and radiotherapy I tried desperately to get back into running as prior to my pregnancy I was running 10k 2x per week. So, a year after I finished chemo I tried again but failed quite miserably and felt like I’d never run again. I tried again another 6 months later and I felt much better. I started running with a friend and we began small runs covering just a couple of miles 2 or 3 times per week. Unfortunately, my friend moved location and even though I continued to run, I needed more motivation. In the New Year in 2010, I talked a then friend into running as a diet and fitness regime for the New Year. I motivated her to run (she will be forever in my debt..) and I lost a good ¾ stone and felt much better and not blaming excessive weight on Tamoxifen or Zolodex injections. Yes, they can cause weight gain but it’s the basic principle of what you put in your mouth you have to burn it off someway. Running is fantastic for that. Any kind of exercise whether it’s walking, cycling or running with help with your recovery from cancer. It can help mentally with depression, moods, hot sweats (I didn’t get as many when on the Zolodex I believe due to running). It really is a ‘wonder drug’ – Exercise is ‘wonder drug’ that can prevent cancer relapse.
And I understand some people especially secondary breast cancer patients cannot exercise to excess. I always think of Jane Tomlinson and what she did running marathons whilst having secondary breast cancer. I say you really don’t know until you try but if you really can’t then yoga, pilates, walking on a treadmill, static cycling and weight bearing exercises maybe with weights is the way to go.
One thing I’d always say is, try to do any exercise with another person or join a club. That is the way that you will continue to do it, see the benefits AND it’s good because there’s healthy competition. There are links on the site about diet and exercise and buddy schemes too.
I completed the 10k Race for Life in May 2012 and raised over £700 for Breast Cancer Care Race for Life
I had run up to 8 miles (just under 13k) on some runs. When I started running I couldn’t run a mile without stopping 4+ times. I really have come far and hope to keep challenging myself and mix exercise up with weight bearing exercises too to help with loss of muscle mass as we get older.
I like running because there is no real effort and its free, it doesn’t have to cost much apart from running shoes – you walk out of your door and run. No going to gyms, waiting for classes, doing it when someone else says. You can fit it in with your work/life.
One recommendation from personal experience is a good pair of running shoes – it’s a must. Everything else you can buy pretty cheap. I’ve just changed my running shoes as I had terrible pain in my left knee. I thought it was just my running style (which it was) but the shoes were worn down (yes 30k/40k a week does take it’s toll!) and it’s obvious now, that the running shop I’d bought the shoes from were right in saying you have to change your shoes every 3-6 months… The pain has gone and I’m back running normal distances.
Another shock was being being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in February 2014. I had to stop running as it was too hard with the chemotherapy. I did continue cycling throughout the treatment and even did the Manchester to Blackpool bike ride for The Christie charity whilst going through chemo. With a team of 24 cyclists we raised an amazing £4894 for The Christie.
I also completed the Manchester to Blackpool bike ride the following 2015 helping to raise £885 for The Christie
I was back to running in the October 2015 with a new set of running friends who are totally amazing! They have
supported me so, so much through my recovery and continue to do so and I’m very thankful of their love and friendship.
Recently there has been this report confirming this link ‘ Exercise as a treatment for depression‘
Lastly, no what exercise you do, enjoy it – that’s why I’d recommend exercising with a friend. It’s much more fun. We talk all the way when running and that also helps with your fitness – running and holding a conversation is quite hard! Exercise doesn’t need gym memberships or much equipment as long as you have a good pair of trainers. [abcdretreat – Diet and exercises]
Good luck – keep fit and healthy!