In February 2013, my best friend and man in my life was diagnosed with rectal cancer. After the tears and the first waves of depression passed we had to figure out how to carry on each day. We institutionally agreed with each other that we would not let the cancer interfere with our lives anymore than we absolutely had to. We had begun going to the gym together some months before. Since he was feeling well physically at that point, we continued to go. We swam together, walked on the elliptical trainer together, and passed the medicine ball back and forth to each other. Keeping as much normalcy in our lives for as long as possible seemed to keep cancer from mastering us.
Once he began chemo there were days he needed to rest or nap in the afternoon but on the days when he was feeling stronger, we went for walks. We went in the pool even if only to make a few easy laps. As the radiation treatments progressed and the bladder and bowel side-effects were troublesome, it was the anticipation of getting back to our gym routine that held out promise for a better tomorrow. Things are getting better every day. The Livestrong organization has a wonderful program in conjunction with the YMCA called “Livestrong at the YMCA” in which they assess a cancer survivor’s abilities and needs and guide them week by week through a strength building campaign in the company of other survivors. One day we ran into one of his Livestrong buddies in the supermarket. They greeted each other so warmly! It was clear they had bonded through their activity program. I was so happy for the two of them and the others who were regaining their sense of self-determination and reclaiming their physical selves through exercise.
Two years later, he is a member of the YMCA, and attends regularly with great, renewed conviction to remain active. I think his experience just underscores the science in the article below.
Written by: Susan Dicosola, MS, CMPE – Executive Director
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