Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cancer and Exercise

Exercise for Cancer Patients: Longer Life, Less Recurrence

There's abundant evidence that exercise and eating right can help prevent people from getting cancer. The latest information shows that exercise for cancer patients can also keep cancer from recurring.

Several recent studies suggest that higher levels of physical activity are associated with a reduced risk of the cancer coming back, and a longer survival after a cancer diagnosis.

In studies of several different cancers, being overweight after completing treatment was associated with shorter survival times and higher risk of cancer recurrence.

Women who exercise after completing breast cancer treatment live longer and have less recurrence, according to recent evidence. Colorectal cancer survivors who exercised lived longer than those who didn't, two recent clinical trials showed.

What experts suspected has now been proven. As a cancer survivor, exercising could help you live a longer life -- free from cancer.

Exercise for Cancer Patients: What's In It For Me?

The benefits of exercise for the general population are well-publicized. But what if you're a cancer patient?

Exercise has many of the same benefits for cancer survivors as it does for other adults.. Some of these benefits include an increased level of fitness, greater muscle strength, leaner body mass, and less weight gain.

In other words, exercise for cancer patients can make you fitter, stronger, and thinner -- like anyone else who exercises.

Exercise can also:

·         Improve mood.

·         Boost self-confidence.

·         Reduce fatigue.

·         Lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

When should you start exercising after cancer diagnosis and treatment? As soon as possible!

Studies show that after a cancer diagnosis, people slow down. Stress, depression, and feeling sick or fatigued from cancer or its treatment all tend to make people less active.

The problem is, most people stay sedentary after treatment

As a long-term solution to the problem of fatigue, taking it easy and avoiding activity is not a good solution. It is important for cancer survivors to get back to exercising to help their recovery.

In other words: if you've down-shifted your activity level since your cancer diagnosis, now is the time to rev back up.

The following types of exercise can help cancer patients - and everyone else - get back in shape:

·         Flexibility exercises (stretching). Virtually everyone can do flexibility exercises. Stretching is important to keep moving, to maintain mobility. If you're not yet ready for more vigorous exercise, you should at least stay flexible.

·         Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, jogging, and swimming. This kind of exercise burns calories and helps you lose weight. Aerobic exercise also builds cardiovascular fitness, which lowers the risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.

·         Resistance training (Iifting weights or isometric exercise), which 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.

"Ideally, cancer survivors should do aerobic exercises and weight training," says Courneya. "Both types of exercise are critical to the overall health and well-being of cancer survivors."

Exercise for Cancer Patients: How Much and How Hard?

For the general population, the American Cancer Society recommends "at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity at least 5 days a week."

This amount of exercise is proven to reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Experts say it that it should also be beneficial for cancer patients


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Riding the Cancer Roller Coaster with God on my side

As a cancer patient myself since 2011 I have had the typical cancer treatments, chemo, radiation, surgery, more chemo and radiation, adverse reactions to chemo meds, adverse reactions from surgical wash and glue, popped stitches, biopsies, pain management, horrible blistering, incapacitating nausea, abdominal and intestinal cramping, hair loss, blinding fatigue, pain, all the fun issues associated with cancer treatments.  But through it all God's grace carried me through it, I have NO doubt.

Cancer is a roller coaster, like life it has it's ups and downs, it's good days and bad, but when you are the patient who is on this ride, the ups and downs are far more extreme than regular life ups and downs.  A cancer patient straps in, buckles up, holds on tight and even some scream on this ride, it is scary as heck, there are dark tunnels and curves and hills and if you are lucky you have a big crowd cheering you on.  Most say a prayer waiting to shoot out of the gate, some pray the whole way through the ride, and most are so relieved when it is over and they are still alive they can barely walk away from the coaster.  Those of us who are like me, metastatic feel like this ride lasts forever, because it is.

  I can never get off the cancer coaster because I can never be cured, I will never again be declared "cancer free" unless it is by miracle and our detection machinery has become more advanced and accurate, but for now I cannot.  I have to change my "normal".  Luckily I am in remission for the 2nd time, but the 1st being stage 4 metastatic.  What that means in my case is that I am living with a deadly disease, although my counts are low and in some cases so low it counts as non-existent.  The best comparison my doctors like to give is that of a diabetic who has complications.  They can live for a long time with their disease, as long as they take necessary precautions, medication, are closely monitored by their medical team and take their condition seriously.  Same thing here for me.  However, I have a couple other things up my sleeve that allow me to stand out from the norm.  I am a Christian, I have faith that God will see me through this, and that I can be used to bring help to others and glory to Him.  I am good at being obstinate and stubborn, dare I say "Brat"  ok I really want to say the other word, but I'm trying to reduce my swearing.  Cancer is a brat, no way around it, cancer treatment is no picnic, no way around it, I am really good at being a brat, no way around it in this case.  I'm a tough cookie, a fighter and I have taken that trait and focus it on the battle in my body with this cancer.  I will not be defeated, I have children to live for, and I will play dirty with the cancer if I have to, this is serious war and I'm not here to play around. 

I have relied on my faith, bible verses, and counseling while on this roller coaster.  There have been times where I asked God to hold my hand as I squeeze my eyes shut and hang on tight while the world goes upside down for a minute.  I have cried begging that He not make me go through this anymore, I want the ride to stop and let me get off.  I have also glowed in pride that I made it through with God beside me even though I was scared to death and never want to go on the ride again, I made it through without peeing in my pants from fear! 

The cancer coaster can seem very isolating, like you are the only passenger in the car.  But you aren't, there are plenty, too many people who are going through a similar if not same roller coaster as you, and that offers some comfort.  There is also the fact that you aren't alone because you have Jesus, and this offers comfort as well, but as much as you "know" these things in your head, it's normal to still feel this way in your heart at times because it is happening to YOU in YOUR BODY and there is no way around that.  Cancer affects everyone around you in your inner circle, whether you want it to or not, some ride the coaster with you, others are cheering for you in the crowd, and some may even be waiting for you while they wait in line to go on another ride. 

There were plenty of times where I visualized myself curled up in God's hands or with an angel completely surrounding me with big beautiful white wings protecting me.  I even got a tattoo of angel wings on my left shoulder, not to symbolize my angel wings but to remind me that I have an angel who has my back.  I also have a cross with a pink breast cancer ribbon entwined to remind me I am covered in faith and with God all things are possible.  Sure I still get scared, and stressed that my cancer might return, or that I could take a turn for the worse, but deep in my heart I know I am carried by grace, and God won't let me down, He is carrying me whether I can see or feel Him doing it.