I had always considered myself as just being very, very lucky as far as my cancer treatment went. I didn’t miss a scheduled chemo session, the nausea was almost non existent and apart from the 5th month into chemotherapy when I got a little tired after lunch, I really didn’t suffer with fatigue.
It wasn’t until I re-trained and further understood the science behind exercise and nutrition, that I realised that the things that I chose to do instinctively were probably the reason my cancer treatment was so manageable. I’m not saying it was easy. If only!! But having seen so many of my family struggle desperately, especially with chemotherapy, my experience in comparison was very good.
In my favour was the fact that at 40, (age of diagnosis) I was probably the fittest I’d been since my early 20s. I had just run a half marathon when I was diagnosed so had the next, post cancer half-marathon as a goal even before the surgery. I have never driven and am fiercely independent; another thing that went in my favour. If I don’t get outside and walk I feel like a caged animal. The first round of treatment was a mastectomy and reconstruction plus axillary node clearance. The reconstruction involved an implant, a nipple areola reconstruction from skin on my back and a latissimus dorsi muscle flap from rear to front over the implant. So I had five drains in.
Worthing Hospital is situated right by a park. There was a lot of snow that New Year but I was determined to get outside for a walk. On day 3 I wrapped up warm and with the staff’s permission had half an hour to potter in the park, drains an’ all!. It was bliss.
Sitting on the park bench I had a real moment of clarity and decided that 3 things were going to get me through this……1) a positive mindset 2) exercise and 3) nutrition.
I promised myself that I would walk every day, and I did, even during the latter stages of the chemotherapy when the peripheral neuropathy got the better of my feet. I walked my daughter to and from school. I walked to the shops. I shuffled round the block….and on a Friday morning I walked to the hospital ( a couple of miles or so away) and later walked back.
The post ‘breast op’ exercises were very straightforward, so once mastered I added some weights. I gained a little weight around my tummy throughout the treatment but didn’t really lose any muscle tone in my limbs at all, which is quite unusual.
Within a few months I was back to running; not far and not for long, but knew that I had to run another half marathon to prove to myself that I was back on track. I increased my fitness regime and loved what it did to energise me. It was then that I decided that I didn’t want to return to school teaching but wanted to work with people that had ‘been through the mill’ and wanted to help themselves to return to health.
Yesterday I signed the lease on a property that will become my very own holistic fitness studio. It’s been both a bumpy and relatively hard journey getting here, and I have to admit that at times I have thought…”will anyone come? If I create this place…will anyone come?” Then a suggested link came up on my social media news feed that made me smile.
It’s a great little documentary, easy to watch and understand and fills me with absolute hope……