If someone had told me that I would be better after breast cancer treatment than before, I would have thought them crazy.
But when I started my last session at the exercise clinic, I really felt like an accomplishment that I was fitter, faster, and stronger than when I started my prescription exercise medicine program.
We all hear about people being diagnosed with breast cancer, but before I became one of them I really didn’t know much about it.
Early last summer I got the call for my very first mammogram and thought it would be routine – I was in my early fifties and expected the appointment call.
I’ve always checked my breasts for lumps and never found anything to worry about, so I wasn’t too worried about going.
I also wasn’t too concerned when I received a follow-up letter telling me to come to the hospital for further tests, as the nurse who performed my scan explained that this could happen because it was my first mammogram.
On the day of the additional examinations, I was in a waiting room with about eight other women.
A million missed mammograms
After being diagnosed with breast cancer during a routine mammogram in November, MP Dawn Butler was thankful to have been caught early.
However, she found that one million women missed their mammograms because of the pandemic and an estimated 10,000 are currently living with undetected breast cancer.
Determined to change that, Dawn has launched a campaign with Metro.co.uk to get one million women to book their missed screenings.
If you feel inspired to do so after hearing Dawn’s story, let her know on her website by emailing us or using #FindTheMillion on social media.
Covid meant we were all on our own, and as these women were slaughtered one by one after I was seen, I on the other hand underwent all the additional testing I was told “might” be necessary.
When one of the incredibly nice nurses showed me a quiet room with two chairs and a box of tissues ready, I knew I wouldn’t be one of the relieved hospital leavers.
My life looked very different when I entered the unit that day, and when I left it would never be the same. Everything changed in a second. It was overwhelming and scary, and I had a complete sense of disbelief that this could happen to me.
Until I suddenly found myself in the eye of the storm, I had no idea how common breast cancer is or how many of us – of all ages – are affected.
Before I even had time to understand the full implications of the diagnosis, my treatment plan was in the works.
I had a lumpectomy to remove the cancer and luckily the area around it and my lymph nodes were clean. However, the type of cancer I referred to would require chemotherapy in addition to radiation to maximize the chances of it not coming back in the future.
I felt like the ground was being pulled from under my feet.
I was shocked. I think we all have an image of what chemotherapy does to you – and I expected that I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed for months, that I wouldn’t be able to act as a mother to my teenage girls or do things that I would normally like to do.
So I was surprised when my oncologist at GenesisCare asked me if I would be interested in going to the hospital’s sports medicine clinic during my treatment.
He explained that 60% of breast cancer patients reported a positive change in their health after participating in sports medicine during their treatment, and I jumped at the chance to try it.
You always think that staying fit and exercising will help you, but I never imagined that it could play such a positive role when you are sick and could even help your body cope with intensive treatments such as chemotherapy.
I certainly wasn’t a fitness buff before I was diagnosed, but I’ve always tried to stay healthy by eating right and exercising. Growing up on a farm, nature has played an important role in my life.
But the ability to do something that made me feel better gave me a little bit of control over the circumstances that felt like a spiral.
Five months of chemotherapy – especially with the added complication of the pandemic – felt like it would last forever. There were days when I didn’t feel so great, but exercise—be it going for a walk or attending one of my biweekly sessions at the exercise clinic—gave me purpose and the need to get up and go. doing something became positive Focus.
At the GenesisCare Clinic, I was put on a prescription exercise regimen with all the types of exercise you’d expect: strength, conditioning, cardio. It’s an ordinary gym and going there also gave me a sense of normalcy, although the reality was far from it.
Every day was different and some days were harder than others, but I always felt better on the other side of the workout. And I found that on days when I felt tired, I regained energy after my sessions.
Looking back now, exercise became my chance to stick two fingers in a horrible situation, and when I managed to get out of bed and then out of my house to go for a walk or workout, I felt like I was winning used to be ‘.
It was also encouraging to make the decision to get in the car twice a week to go to the clinic for practice sessions. I didn’t choose cancer, so many of my journeys were non-negotiable, but when it came to training, I made the decision to do something for myself in the midst of all the negative chaos cancer had brought into my life. To live.
Exercise also helped reduce my anxiety levels – I’d joined a club we all hope we’ll never be a part of, and the workout and feeling stronger inside me helped push that panic button.
Even now, the whole experience of being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer feels incredibly surreal — like it happened to someone else.
My diagnosis came out of the blue after my very first mammogram when I had no idea anything was wrong and I would encourage everyone to accept that invitation for a scan when it comes.
I am so thankful that I did it and that my cancer was discovered early. And if anyone is in a similar situation to mine and is considering trying exercise as part of their treatment, please do. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
I just had my first year exam and luckily it was clear. Exercise is still a big part of my life and I still get the “win” hit when I’m done walking or exercising.
I never expected it to play the role it plays during and during recovery from cancer treatment, but I couldn’t be more thankful for the positive boost it has given me at an incredibly challenging time in my life.
I am a highly experienced and well-connected journalist, with a focus on healthcare news. I have worked for several major news outlets, and currently work as an author at 24 news recorder. My work has been featured in many prestigious publications, and I have a wide network of contacts in the healthcare industry. I am highly passionate about my work, and strive to provide accurate and timely information to my readers.