Cancer is devastating. The Canadian Cancer Society, Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada released a report showing that up to 45% of males, and 42% of women will suffer from cancer at some point in their lifetime. However, this report also states that our success at treating it is getting better and better (www.cancer.ca). Cancer recovery is more likely than ever. The treatments however can be tough on our bodies, causing fatigue. The exhaustion from cancer recovery can be so severe that it prevents us from returning to our normal lives. This includes work and social activities.
Exercise can help. But that idea can be very scary for someone who has just faced a lot of treatment. Often the fatigue is so severe that the idea of getting started on an exercise program is overwhelming. And those that are determined to begin anyway do not know where to start. This is where your medical team can help.
First check with you family doctor or your specialist to make sure that it is safe for you to start exercising. Once you have received the all clear, talk to a trained physiotherapist about what to do. They are the experts in exercise. Physiotherapists will be able to guide you through the proper steps to recovery.
Remember that your program should involve exercises that are aimed at improving your heart, lungs, fitness and strength. Prior to diagnosis, one thinks of cardio including things like walking, running, rowing and swimming. This is often too much immediately following treatment. Simpler activities such as step up or marching can often be enough to achieve fitness goals. Shorter, frequent sessions of exercise can also be as effective and better tolerated. Strengthening exercises build muscle and stamina. These need to be adapted to your body’s new abilities.
Cancer recovery is possible. You can get better and you will get back to being the old you. Just talk to a physiotherapist to see how to do this faster and safely.