Fitness during chemo (not an oxymoron, I promise)

Today is about embracing the new normal… THEN: Regularly trained for 5ks, 10ks and half marathons NOW: Regularly preparing for each new round of chemo treatments THEN: running a 10:30 mile. NOW: walking a 15 minute mile while trying to push for spurts of running when I can. THEN: hoped I wouldn't get stomach or leg cramps during a race. NOW: hope with each chemo that I'll figure out how to better handle nausea. THEN: felt girly and pretty and sexy. NOW: feel fierce and strong, despite my limitations. THEN: thought cancer would be the worst thing in the world. NOW: Knowing that cancer is NOT a death sentence, but a temporary set back that I will recover from. THEN: rocked silly running pants with pride. NOW: well…some things never change. 😉 I can't control tomorrow, but I can control today and today I choose to embrace this new normal. #fcancer #hodgkinslymphoma #fbf #thirdchemo #letsdothis

A post shared by Jamie LeRoy (@jleroy15) on

When I first started chemo (which really wasn’t that long ago), my doctor told me that the best way to fight the fatigue would be to exercise when I can.

I was surprised by this. And I was also pretty excited by this. Because, for the two months prior to actually getting my cancer diagnosis, I had cut all ties with living an active lifestyle. I was fighting neck, back and shoulder pain on a daily basis, along with a crippling cough and wheeze that left me breathless when I tried to do something as simple as take a shower or go up a flight of stairs. I knew that until I got better that the fitness plans I’d had for myself would have to be put on hold.

At first, I took the doc’s words as more of a suggestion. The fatigue would come whether I wanted it to or not, and it had a cumulative effect that would be more and more present with each passing treatment. But back in the beginning, I didn’t think I would have time to focus on getting fit. I was more focused on just surviving the chemo treatments.

And then, the first day of my first good week (which shall be hereto known as the third best day EVER), something in me changed and I. Felt. GREAT. I talked about this in another post where I went on and on about not having to be on drugs (HUZZAH!), but the thing that I wanted to do most on that day was to get out and go for a walk. So I did! In fact, I was able to walk all the way around our lake and back to the house – a descent 2 mile walk. Now, my heart rate had spiked to an unhealthy 168 at certain points, as my body was clearly still not in peak physical condition for even a small walk, but to be honest, it all felt great. I got home and was panting so hard you’d think I just ran a 6 minute mile. But no, just walking that whole time.

First walk after my first chemo treatment.

First walk after my first chemo treatment.

 

After that, I started to think – this is something I can do. This is something I can definitely do during the good weeks, and maybe also something I can maybe pull off during the bad weeks. So I kept walking.

After that first walk, I also started to look for others who were making it their mission to keep their fitness goals while they’re going through chemotherapy. It’s not easy to find them (trust me, I’ve looked)…but they are out there. And they motivate me on a daily basis.

I also understand that staying fit while you’re going through chemotherapy isn’t your biggest priority, but for me, it’s just one more distraction that gets me through the day, so I embrace what ever level of fitness I can achieve at this point.

But hopefully, I can continue to fight the upward battle and keep the fatigue at bay while also getting a good workout in.

Today, I’m walking between 2 and 3 miles at a time with spurts of running that I’m trying to increase whenever I go out. Soon, I’d like to start doing yoga again on the cruddier days, and hopefully I’ll be back to the muscle mass I once knew before all of my ailments started.

But also, I respect my body’s limitations and I’ll give into the three hour naps and the early bedtimes whenever they come upon me.

Speaking of early bedtimes, it’s getting to be about that time. Enjoy your evening! And enjoy this weather while you can!

Ciao!

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11 thoughts on “Fitness during chemo (not an oxymoron, I promise)

  1. Great news Jamie! You have come a long way just from a couple weeks ago when we took that walk. Yeah!!! And you ARE rocking those workout pants. 🙂

  2. This is awesome! High five 🖐️. Keep exercising and keep going! Keep positive. My mom had cancer, multiple myeloma, and it made her very sick. She was too sick to exercise, but her biggest anchors were her positive attitude and her faith. Without her positive outlook, she would have not made it. Even when she was a nurse prior to her cancer diagnosis, she noticed that her patience with the best mental attitudes survived most of the time. Keep it up! ✌️ 😀 🙌

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