my Breast Cancer blog

2004, age 34 — this is my story

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More and More Life

“The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life.” —George Sheehan

EXACTLY.

And because my running obsession has been thwarted by a hip injury, I am finding a new groove, which is turning into an obsession with walking (+ little bits of running here and there) and a new love for Bob Harper and his boot-camp and yoga DVDs.

I want more and more life.

Fight Cancer With Fitness (GUEST POST)

By: David Haas

Whether you have just been diagnosed with cancer, are undergoing treatments, or are in remission, the benefits of keeping fit cannot be understated. Exercise keeps the body healthy and functioning at its highest capacity, and for bodies fighting a rigorous chronic disease like cancer, exercise can make a tremendous positive difference.

When my doctor first told me I had mesothelioma, I felt like there was nothing I could do, but he encouraged me to get off my sofa and start exercising, even for a short time daily, so I could make a positive change. Conventionally, healthcare professionals have encouraged cancer patients and survivors to ‘take it easy,’ but Ciaran Devane, chief executive officer (CEO) of Macmillan Cancer Support, stated in an article posted by CBS News that patients would be shocked to know the benefits of physical activity on their recovery and long-term health.

Decreased Risk of Recurrence

Studies indicate that for those who have beat cancer, exercise can help keep the disease from coming back. In a recent article posted by webMD, Kerry Courneya, professor from Canada and research chair at the Physical Activity and Cancer organization in Edmonton, Canada, stated that not only did exercise reduce the risk of recurrence, but it also ensured a longer survival after diagnosis.

Elevated Energy Levels

Exercise is known to reduce fatigue and increase overall energy levels. It also increases stamina. Cancer treatment can be rigorous, and exercise helps build the muscle and stamina needed to better withstand its effects on the body.

Improved Quality of Life

Exercise reduces the risk of other chronic illnesses, like cardiovascular disease and diabetes, while decreasing the risk of other health issues, like osteoporosis and depression. It also enhances mood by releasing serotonin, a ‘feel-good’ chemical in the brain, and produces an overall positive feeling of well-being.

Even a little effort at fitness can go a long way while living with or beyond cancer. It doesn’t need to be anything too strenuous. Small choices like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, gardening instead of watching television, or walking the dog instead of playing a computer game make a tremendous overall positive impact on living.

Thank you, David, for this reminder that exercise is powerful medicine!

The Magnificent Morning Mile

The following post appears on all of my blogs (this one, Braving Boys, and Square One), because the topic is just too good not to share over and over again. I know it’s not about breast cancer, but there’s a good amount of pink in the photos. Does that count?

Mingling at the Morning Mile

The Morning Mile is the kind of event that gives you goosebumps, said my friend and fitness maven Fitz Koehler today at a Hidden Oak Elementary School post-run press conference, where she addressed parents, school officials, and partner executives from AvMed, all of whom were gathered to marvel at the success of this school exercise program.

Michael: 100 miles completed

Goosebumps is right. I felt them when student Michael stepped up to the podium to be honored for running a grand total of 100 miles since the program launched at Hidden Oak this past November, and I felt them as I watched hundreds and hundreds of kids, their moms and dads, and the officials and execs, too, log laps on the field behind the school at 7:15 this morning. The day was foggy and gray, but the spirit that filled the outdoor space was not — the energy was electric as camera men snapped away and shouts of excitement were captured for TV. It was inspiring.

Fitzness International’s Morning Mile is a before-school walking/running program offering children the chance to actively start their days while enjoying fitness, fun, and friends. There’s some competition, too, because that just makes life more exciting, and kids earn necklaces, plus a colorful sneaker charm for every five miles completed. It’s a big deal, and it could be exactly the fresh start you need at your school. Think focused energy, positive self esteem, obesity prevention, and in-shape kiddos, and this program should be just a little bit enticing — right?

Time to explore your Morning Mile options. Goosebumps, remember? Goosebumps.

Post-run pose

Get Fit and Get Your Mammogram

We don’t know what causes breast cancer, but we can take steps to decrease our risk. Here are two.

Simple enough, right? OK, maybe the getting fit part is easier said than done. But you can find some great inspiration for slimming down and working up a sweat over at That’s Fit — I’m an editor and writer there, so I’m partial to the place. And to make good on that mammogram (yes, it might hurt, but I promise it’s not as painful as breast cancer), check out these American Cancer Society recommendations for who should get a mammo and when. Self-exams are important too. Here, how to do them.

Weighing on my mind

I admit it, I’m concerned about my weight. Not worried about it, just concerned about in a way that makes me work at keeping it right where it is. But I don’t exercise and eat right (yesterday doesn’t count) for weight reasons alone. I also do it for my overall health, which really is a bigger concern for me than the numbers that stare up at me from my scale each day.

A healthy lifestyle as it relates to cancer prevention gets a lot of press. It’s pretty much a fact nowadays that by eating certain foods, ditching all the junk and working up a good sweat most days of the week, we can ward off all sorts of disease. Simple stuff. Also pretty high pressure.

Now that I’ve had cancer, I know that the way I live my life can quite possibly keep me from getting it again. So I do my best. But when I cheat and eat that plate of chicken nachos or skip a day (or week or month) on the workout circuit, I feel guilty, as if I’m rejecting the medicine that can keep me well. It’s a weird mix of motivation and burden. Knowing I have the key to a long, healthy life makes me want to eat veggies for all of time. But knowing I have the key to a long, healthy life makes me feel like I’m doing myself a major disservice when I steal fries of my kids’ dinner plates.

I know, I’m human, and I can’t be perfect all that time. Still, it weighs on my mind. Which is why today, I walked for 3.5 miles, and tomorrow, I plan to lift a few weights. A fruit salad is on the menu for breakfast this morning, and I’m recommitting to a ban on most packaged foods. It’s the least I can do to ensure I’m here for the long haul.

Photo courtesy of Pink Sherbet Photography on flickr