Monday, May 7, 2012

The Benefits of Fitness for Cancer Patients

Some time ago, I was approached by a gentleman named David Haas, who had located my other blog via a search engine.

In his own words:

I am an advocate for cancer patients and want to make a difference in their lives because cancer has devastated so many people in this world.

David asked me if I would allow him to guest post, or feature some of his articles on my blog. Having given it some thought, I decided that I am happy to do this, however I feel that THIS blog is the more appropriate forum. After all, Cancer is the sole reason I created this blog in the first place.

So as soon as I work out how, I am going to give David guest author status for this blog. Meanwhile I will post an article that he wrote, and sent me sometime ago. David, my apologies for taking so long with this, I've been in a strange headspace the last several months.

Live a Better Life Through Physical Fitness Even While Fighting Cancer

Physical fitness is know to have many benefits for anyone who participates in it. For someone who has been newly diagnosed with cancer, is going through radiation and/or chemotherapy treatments, or for those who are in remission, exercise is even more beneficial.

Exercise improves strength, endurance, and increases self esteem. It also increases energy levels, which are often depleted due to cancer treatments. Physical activity can help with depression and it relieves stress. All of these things will help you to feel more physically and mentally fit, aiding you in experiencing a general feeling of well being. While taking certain medications and treatments you may become constipated. Exercise is also known to ease this issue.

Physical activity may not be easy for some due to the type of cancer they have, the treatments they are receiving, or due to their age. Some people may have trouble moving or walking, or may experience weakness. Others may experience pain causing them to have difficulty in moving. In these cases, it is understandable that you would rather not move at all, but the more you stay in bed, the weaker your muscles become.  

Physical activity does not mean that you should do strenuous amounts of exercise for great lengths of time. Exercise is beneficial to you even if you do only a small amount to start with. If you do more than you should you may cause injury or harm to yourself. To begin getting some exercise, you can do things such as making an effort to get out of bed and walk to the other side. If you are feeling weak, have someone help you to do this. You can also sit in bed and do simple movements such as moving your arms in circles or lifting your legs, if possible.

Exercises that are common among people who are in remission from cancer or who are newly diagnosed are: Walking, yoga, range of motion exercises, gardening, dancing and light aerobics. As you gain strength you might try biking, swimming and moderate strength training. Start slow and build up to doing more as you can.  The American Cancer Society recommends that cancer survivors who are adults, exercise for at least 30 minutes a day for five days a week or more.

You should discuss with your doctor, the types of physical activity you can do, before doing any type of exercise, especially if you are undergoing mesothelioma treatment, as this normally affects the lungs making it painful and difficult to breathe at times. Your doctor can help you to make personalized recommendations for your fitness plan.

By following your doctor's recommendations on exercise, and following through, you can live a better life even while fighting cancer.

Thanks David, we look forward to your future contributions.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


So.... I'm trying not to bore everyone with my woes at the moment, so thought I'd pop in here and have a bit of a whinge. That way, I'm only boring those who WANT to be bored...

Actually, several of the wonderful staff at The Mater have told me that my current malaise is entirely natural! I keep trying to focus on the positive... i.e. the rapidly approaching end of treatment, but I seem to be having more down days than I have throughout this whole crapshoot. Apparently, that's normal! I HATE being normal.... always been one to try and buck the trend.... (Actually that's crap, I'm one of the most boring people I know!) I seem to be in tears 3 or 4 times a day, for no apparent reason, someone just said something nice to me on Twitter and my eyes are leaking all over the place. (Don't let that stop you saying something nice though).

Anywhooo, apart from the mental/emotional meltdown, I do have some physical issues I'm dealing with. The radiation has burnt my skin, let's just say in "the treatment area". No need to get too graphic, you all know where my cancer is. It's painful, it's uncomfortable, it means I've had to wear a bra 24 hours a day for the last few weeks .... it just FKN HURTS!!!! I see the Doc today after my treatment, and am hoping that he doesn't suggest taking time out to allow for some healing. I'd really rather just get it over with.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


So here we are again!

I'll start by saying that treatment is going well. I finished Chemo in October, and am currently undergoing Radiation Therapy. That will continue until mid January. I have no reason to suspect that the treatment will not be successful, though obviously I will have to be vigilant for the rest of my life.

I don't miss the illness caused by the Chemo, and so far my main side-effects from the R.T, are tiredness, insomnia, and some soreness. Given I am  only one third the way through, I have been warned to expect an increase in these side-effects during the course of the treatment.

I've had a couple of minor setbacks during my treatment. I ended up in hospital at one stage with an infection which the Doctors wanted to treat with I.V. antibiotics. Unfortunately, this proved difficult, as my veins had pretty much broken down, and after a couple of days, and some VERY nasty failed attempts at cannulation, I ended up back on tablets.

This also caused the Docs to recommend that I have a line inserted into my upper arm to receive my remaining chemo. A total pain, as I actually only had one treatment left. However, I went along with it, only to find it caused even more dramas. First, the dressing they applied to hold the cannula in place burned me so badly, it actually cut the skin. I still have the scars some two months down the track. Then a couple of weeks after chemo finished, and the line was removed, I had an infection, as well as a DVT at the site. Treatment was twice daily injections of Clexane, and I don't care what anyone says, that shit HURTS. Monster Yuppy to the rescue again.

This complication caused additional drama. As mentioned elsewhere, my best friend shouted me a trip to Melbourne for J's birthday. Mum went BALLISTIC!!!! She cried, and screamed, and told me I was taking a foolish risk by flying with a blood clot. She even went on the internet to find research to back up her argument. It didn't matter how much I assured her that I wouldn't do ANYTHING my Doctors might consider even the slightest bit risky, she raged at my selfishness, my lack of consideration for her and for The Brat.

 As it turned out, I had an appointment to return to my Oncologist, as I had been quite unwell with the Clexane, and my GP suspected that I may need a change in medication. (This was in addition to the lumps and bruises that prevented me from sleeping, or even climbing stairs without considerable pain). My Oncologist was a little surprised by the side-efffects I was experiencing. Even though they are listed on the medication information sheet, they are relatively unusual. Anyway, she ordered another ultrasound, to check the status of the blood clot. She also assured me (as did my GP when I spoke to him later), that a blood clot only increased the risk when flying, if it was situated in my leg. The fact that it was in my arm meant I could fly without any worries.

Anyhoo, the upshot of the ultrasound was that the clot was gone. It was small to start with, and the 3 or so weeks I had persisted with the injections had dissolved it. YAY!!! No more needles, and the added bonus that Mum would be reassured that it was safe to fly... you would think! So I flew to Melbourne at the end of that week, (without Mum's blessing), and had a ball. No regrets!

The day after I returned, was the first of thirty Radiation Therapy treatments. Due to public holidays I will be finishing these in the middle of January. I had previously had 4 tattoos, on and around my breast, and the techs spent a fair bit of time working out how I would need to be positioned to receive the radiation in the correct spots. Suffice to say, it involves gladwrap slings, and lots of tape...

As I mentioned earlier, so far not too bad. Apart from tiredness and insomnia, I have some pain and minor burning on the skin. I have been warned that this will worsen, so I am prepared. I have also dropped back to 4 days a week at work, hoping this will help lessen the tiredness. It was a good call, and my sisters, who pushed me to make this decision, are helping me out a little financially, as I am trying to build up enough leave for a short break at the end of my treatment.

Emotionally, I seem to be having a few more bad days than previously. You would think that with the light at the end of the tunnel I would be less inclined to meltdowns. I personally think it's just the result of a long 7 months of treatment and chaos, and I am simply tired. It will settle once the treatment and associated side-effects are over. Then I can relax, have a break, and start looking seriously at jobs in Melbourne. Early research looks quite promising for admin jobs in my preferred salary range, so we shall see.

It's likely that this will be the last update before the end of treatment, with the madness of Christmas approaching. So thanks to you all for your love, support and encouragement. I know that I am lucky, as I have wonderful, supportive friends and family, as well as a very treatable cancer, and a very positive prognosis.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

WOW! It HAS been a while....

So now I am halfway through my chemo, by this time next week I will be two thirds of the way through. (Trust me it helps to think that way)!

I am mostly doing okay. The week after chemo is "unpleasant" to say the least. My Doctors were a bit baffled as to why I am suffering so much from nausea, when they give me enough anti-nausea meds to fell an elephant... until they found out that during my pregnancy with The Brat, I was actually hospitalised with Morning Sickness. Apparently that's an indication that I am pre-disposed to nausea, so they add a little something extra to my prescription each session. Monster Yuppy has been incredibly generous, with advice and time and some magic cream to take away the pain of the needles. Many thanks! I have also had some luck with something a little "less prescribed" shall we say. Thank you my friends, you know who you are....

After the first week my main difficulty is with tiredness. I'm struggling a little bit at work, but given I am now out of accrued leave, I don't have a lot of choice. I still need to work. Some days the boss is fantastic, other days not so much. I am trying to ignore the less fantastic days. I have found that if I let things get to me, a meltdown is inevitable and invariably unpleasant, so I try not to stress. Having The Brat out of work for a while has added to the stress, but thankfully that situation is now resolved.

I also get terribly hot.... gently perspiring buckets, regardless of the actual ambient temperature. Annoying, but not fatal, though now Spring has sprung I am dreading the inevitable warmer temperatures. My skin is also suffering, the slightest bump results in bruising or blood blisters, and a minor burn takes weeks and weeks to heal. I have  still got a mark on my forearm from the tape used after a pre-chemo blood test nearly six weeks ago, as well as a bruise from the actual treatment around the same time. And rashes....

The week before chemo is better, I feel almost normal, though still tire easily. And I eat! My weight goes up and down, some weeks I can barely eat, the week before chemo I shove everything that's not nailed down, into my mouth at every opportunity. Ain't side effects fun? : )

I am making an effort not to hide away (tempting as it is), but still try to get out and see friends, even if it's just for a quick coffee. My new look is a hit, and I LOVE seeing the looks on people's faces when they see me as a blonde for the first time. Even my sister did a double-take when she saw me earlier this week! The wig can get uncomfortable, but I went shopping with Mum and my sister on Friday night, and we have added some scarves and turbans and little bits and pieces to my repertoire, and today I will take them to Mum's and practice tying scarves and experimenting with different looks.

All in all I'm doing okay. I have my moments obviously, and if you follow me on twitter you're more likely to know when those moments occur. I do a little bit of whinging over there, and I thank you my friends for putting up with it! I still check in to the blogs I follow, but mostly just lurk. Sometimes it's an effort even to comment. I apologise for that, but know that I'm still around...

I WILL try to be a bit more diligent about updating at both of my blogs, but no promises. As always, thanks for your love and support!

Monday, June 28, 2010


As promised I phoned the Hospital this morning to let them know that I was unhappy with the schedule change for my first Chemo session.

The young lady on the phone advised that the appointment had been changed because the Doc would be away. I explained that I was aware of that, the Doc had mentioned it, but we agreed that her lovely assistant would be capable of handling the procedure. This caused some confusion, as it turns out, my appointment had been logged as an appointment to meet the Doctor, rather than Chemo. She assured me that as it was a Chemo appointment, should be okay, and she would call back to confirm after she spoke to the Doc. At about 11:30 I got the call, and confirmation that Chemo would begin as originally scheduled on July 8th.

On the one hand I was annoyed that I had made myself sick with stress all weekend over a simple clerical error, on the other hand, we all make mistakes, I'm not immune myself, and it's better than the Doc just deciding to push me out a week without any discussion.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Got home yesterday to find a letter from The Mater.

My first Chemo has been rescheduled to a week later. They invite me to give them a call if the new date doesn't suit me.

Too right I will be giving them a call. I have just spent a week and a half organising the rest of my life around the 8th of July. I could have had this 1st session this week, but put it off so that Mum and Dad could have their planned holiday. I REALLY didn't want them to give that up, Mum and the kids especially have really been looking forward to it, and no way was I going to break their hearts.

Apart from that, I really want this to start, so it can finish and I can get on with the rest of my life...

I don't think some of the people I've talked to about it get it! It isn't JUST a week, it's ANOTHER WHOLE week.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I've Been Slack....

Okay it's well past time for an update. Apologies for my slackness, between staying at Mum's through the weekend, Doctors appointments and Nanna Naps, it's been hard to find the motivation....

Anyhoo, the news so far is good. My meeting with the Surgeon on Wednesday confirmed that the 4 lymph nodes collected during surgery were clear of any evidence of spread. They retrieved a 2.5cm tumour with clear margins and no additional surgery required. One of my bandages is completely off and the scar is very neat and clean. Pain is not too bad, though with my back and neck issues I am having a fair bit of referred pain in the right arm. My Back Doctor, along with some Valium, is taking care of that

Wednesday also involved meeting with the Breast Care Nurse, two Medical Oncologists (Chemo), the Radiation Oncologist (Radiotherapy), and a Cancer Care Specialist Nurse. Lots of information (again), more appointments, as far away as October, and more tests before further treatment starts.

So far I have in my calendar the following:

24/06 - Back Doctor
30/06 - Echocardiogram
08/07 - Chemotherapy (to be repeated every 21 days for a total of 6 treatments
19/07 - Look Good Feel Better program, makeup, turbans, scarves etc., to help you look and feel your best during and after Chemo.
12/10 - Appt with Radiation Oncologist to discuss timimg of Radiation Therapy

I also have to have a blood test just before each chemo session, and I have to decide whether or not I'd like to participate in a trial using acupuncture in conjunction with chemo, to see if it helps with nausea. I'm keen, but it involves extra hospital visits, so I haven't quite decided on that one. Apparently I also have "Chemo Brain" to look forward to. That means that instead of a half hour frantic searching for my car keys every morning, it will be more like an hour... basically I'm fkd!

Plenty of support and assistance along the way.... I have already received a free bra, specifically designed for post surgery.... ugly as sin, but blissfully comfortable. There is a package on it's way containing a voucher for wig purchase, a turban, turban making patterns, scarf tying instructions and other little goodies. The Look Good Feel Better Program will help me make the most of makeup, skin care etc., with heaps of free goodies thrown in. Apparently they will select makeups based on my colouring, skin tones and preferences (supplied via questionnaire), show me how best to use them to disguise the ravages of Chemo, then hand them over. Could be several hundred dollars worth of Estee Lauder, Clinique, and/or other expensive brands.

Meanwhile I return to work on Monday, with time off for various appointments until the first Chemo session on Thursday the 8th. On the 25th of June my parents take off for a week to 10 days on holidays in Northern NSW with my sister, her partner and the grandkids. On the 30th of June my man will arrive from Melbourne and leaves the day I start Chemo. Speaking of my sister, she had her Mammogram on Wednesday, and received a callback today for Ultrasound, which she will have on Monday. We are hopeful that they are being extra cautious due to my diagnosis, and that she will be fine. We are staying very calm.

That's probably about it for now. If any more news comes to hand I will check in. Again, if I have a particularly bad or especially good day, I will certainly try to check in and share, I suspect there will be more of those days once treatment begins in earnest.

As always, thanks for your messages of support and love.