Thriving not just Surviving- Life after Cancer with Exercise!

Kentucky has the highest cancer rate in the country!

The state of Kentucky has the highest age-adjusted death rate for cancer out of all 50 states, with 211.2 deaths per 100,000 population, compared with 180.7 per 100,000 nationally, according to statistics released Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

In 2004 my friend Kathy was struggling with breast cancer. On her bucket list was sky diving. Not one of my items on the list, but for Kathy I would have done anything for the chance to put a hope in her heart and a smile on her face.  I asked why she wanted to do some crazy thing like jumping out of a plane at 10,000 feet?


She replied,

From my book, HOPE FLOATS!

Life is different now. While on the outside things were seemingly calm, my insides were being tossed like a ship in a hurricane. When I first heard that I had breast cancer, I was shocked to say the least. Up until then, all my mammograms were normal. I wasn’t grossly out of shape, and I lived a somewhat normal lifestyle. Logically, why did this happen to me? Not now– not me, I thought.

The other thing on my mind was; what about my body? Things were now going to be different on the outside too. What would I look like? What would others think? And my hair! Never in my life did I think of wearing a wig. After the initial shock, with some reassurance from God, my husband and the doctors, I realized now it was up to me.

Before cancer, I never thought life could change as quickly as it has. One moment I’m going through my everyday items, and next thing I know, a part of me is threatened to be taken away. Maybe even my life. What do I do now? Where do I go from here? How will I cope? Who will be there when I need them most? Then I realized it all started with me. Was I going to be the victim or the survivor? Was I going to mope around just enough to get by, or was I going to get on with my life?

I decided that I needed to get on board or else my life was going to just wither away. I had to keep breathing. I had to believe there would be life after cancer. Was it tough? Sure it was. It still is. But, I had two choices; get up and walk or stay on the couch and die. Either I eat healthier or continue to scarf down the junk food and feel rotten.

For the last few years, my sail has been up. The wind has taken me to places I never thought possible. I’m healthier, I’m active and I am determined to go on. Do I know where my ship will take me? No. Maybe it’s best that way. I do not wish cancer on anyone, but in some crazy way the cancer opened up my eyes to what matters most to me; my faith, my family and my fitness. I am so thankful I got on board. So, my answer is, WHY NOT jump out of a plane?


Exercise should be a “standard” part of cancer care!


Studies show that patients getting cancer treatment should be told to do two and a half hours of physical exercise every week, says a report by Macmillan Cancer Support. Being advised to rest and take it easy after treatment is an outdated view, the charity says.

Research shows that exercise can reduce the risk of dying from cancer and minimize the side effects of treatment. The Department of Health says local initiatives can get people moving.

Macmillan’s report, Move More, says that of the two million cancer survivors in the UK, around 1.6 million are not physically active enough.

Adult cancer patients and cancer survivors should undertake 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week, the reports says which is what the Department of Health guidelines recommend.

In the report, the American College of Sports Medicine also recommends that exercise is safe during and after most types of cancer treatment and says survivors should avoid inactivity. It doesn’t need to be anything too strenuous, doing the gardening, going for a brisk walk or a swim, all count” Getting active, the report says, can help people overcome the effects of cancer and its treatments, such as fatigue and weight gain.

“The evidence review shows that physical exercise does not increase fatigue during treatment, and can in fact boost energy after treatment.” “It can also lower their chances of getting heart disease and osteoporosis.

“Also, doing recommended levels of physical activity may reduce the chance of dying from the disease. It may also help reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.”

Previous research shows that exercising to the recommended levels can reduce the risk of breast cancer recurring by 40%. For prostate cancer the risk of dying from the disease is reduced by up to 30%.

Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said physical activity was very important to the survival and recovery process.

Keeping active after treatment for cancer is now recommended by cancer experts

“Cancer patients would be shocked if they knew just how much of a benefit physical activity could have on their recovery and long term health, in some cases reducing their chances of having to go through the grueling ordeal of treatment all over again.

“It doesn’t need to be anything too strenuous, doing the gardening, going for a brisk walk or a swim, all count.” The bottom line is, getting exercise during and after cancer is priceless.

Why not thrive verses just surviving?

Greg Ryan is an accomplished author, personal trainer, life coach and owner of Resolutions Preventative Health Care through Fitness for Seniors and Diabetics in St. Matthews.