Actually, I have mentioned how important exercise is for cancer survivors a few times below.
Regular exercise isn’t just important for cancer survivors but for anybody. My post-cancer chronic fatigue issues were pretty heavy, and the only way to keep my body up and running and to have any energy at all was to push it hard. I don’t think my running story is all that special or glorious, but all things considered, finally being able to do a 5K run in under 30 minutes after years of pushing myself might as well have been like completing a full marathon for me. Some personal heroes of mine, like my friend Jonathan Barr in the UK, kept doing regular 4 miles runs or walks during treatments, and then ran the full 2015 New York Marathon just 10 weeks after EPx4 chemotherapy in only 5 hours and 5 minutes despite being in his 50’s! It was great to meet Jonathan and his lovely wife Lauren who is also a runner at the original Testicular Cancer Summit in 2017. Couple goals and fitness goals all in one!
Don’t miss Jonathan’s amazing post-cancer running story here: Defying All Odds
Anyways, to say that 2018 was a disastrous fitness year for me would be a gross understatement. A combination of my job being totally out of control busy with numerous fires to put out every single day, and then having a new dog to care for at home left absolutely zero time for exercise. Even if I did have time to exercise, I was approaching 50% travel for work at times throughout the year, all of which continually threw wrenches into developing any sort of fitness routine, and you always tend to overeat or just not eat properly while traveling for work, especially when your company paying. While I managed to do some running and a few 5K races with my son William, who’s 9 years old and kicked my butt both times, in general I felt like total crap in 2018, the pounds piled on, and my energy levels plummeted, and I was back to struggling for every bit of energy I could muster just to get through the work day, with nothing left for anything else.
A big problem was the fact that the previous gym I was a member of was a 20-30 minute out of the way roundtrip just to get to. If you’re trying to make it to the gym for a solid workout 3-5 times per week, that adds up to over 2 hours of time in the car just getting to the gym and back, which is time I simply didn’t have. I managed to figure out that I did have time exercise, but not time to get to the gym also, so I very sadly discontinued my gym membership and just pounded the pavement with running and walking in my neighborhood, and then quit that too when the weather turned too cold. My neighborhood community center has a decent set of exercise equipment, but with zero ventilation in the room and flickering lights that bring on migraines, it’s truly a miserable experience working out in that small room. I could never commit, and so I fell completely off the fitness wagon for a few months, and of course the chronic fatigue hit me hard.
Luckily for me, a fantastic brand new gym has opened just a few blocks away that’s less than a 5 minute drive for me now, not really out of the way at all, and at a fraction of the cost of my previous gym. I got in on opening day December 31st, 2018, and I already felt a million times better after just the first workout, and after a solid week in the gym I’m already feeling like I’m back to my old energetic self. The fatigue has all but vanished, I’m sleeping better, I have plenty of energy in the morning now, and am no longer struggling for energy at all.
It’s funny how our bodies work and how counterintuitive they are. If you sit around all day or never exercise, you’ll feel fatigued and like you can’t move, which discourages you from moving at all, and only makes the fatigue worse! Get your ass into the gym and get a solid workout in, and all of a sudden your body is charged up and you feel like you can conquer the world. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s a night and day difference for sure.
Check out some photos of the new gym! This place is sweeeeet! The pool will be opening sometime later.
I know it and I’ve lived it, and I cannot allow life or work schedules to interfere with my physical health and getting regular exercise ever again. If I have one New Year’s resolution for 2019, it will be that, oh and lose the 20 pounds I managed to pickup and get back down to my goal weight (again). There’s a lot of “best things” that I’ve done for myself as a young adult cancer survivor and best practices that I can and have passed on, but surely regular vigorous exercise is at the very top. Maybe a lot of people can get by just fine without ever exercising, but I cannot after cancer. Regular exercise is what keeps my chronic fatigue issues at bay, and I can only go so long before my fatigue issues will start to rear their ugly heads again and my body starts grinding to a halt.
You don’t have to run marathons like my friend Jonathan. Just get out there and get moving and do whatever you can do. Your body will thank you for it, and it will be a huge boost in mental confidence as well when you can do just a little bit more each time, cancer survivor or not.