Monday, March 5, 2012

Guest Post

Hi all-

This blog has been on hiatus for almost a year now- full time classes, clinical internship, and personal training have kept me insanely busy. I'm going to attempt to update once a week or more- but no promises! My working/interning/student lifestyle has left me feeling a bit like this:

However- I want to keep this as current as possible and link to any and all relevant health and wellness information I come across!

I was recently contacted by a gentleman named David Haas who works as a cancer patient advocate for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. He writes and performs research for the betterment of cancer patients around the United States.You can find out more about David and his work HERE.

On this blog I try to discuss a diverse array of issues surrounding fitness and wellness, so it makes sense to include a guest post regarding fitness in the face of cancer. Everyone knows someone affected by this debilitating illness, so it's a very relatable topic. I'm also a huge advocate of exercise (clearly!) for life-long illness prevention, but David's thoughtful and practical post details how exercise can be beneficial when someone is dealing with, or in treatment for cancer. Please take a moment to read this short, helpful post- and pass along the word to your family, friends, or exercise buddies at your current fitness facility. Thanks to David and the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance for their work on this important issue.

Taking Control With Fitness Despite Cancer by David Haas

Cancer and the resulting diagnosis can leave one feeling out of control. The illness itself often involves loss of some body function. For example, mesothelioma can make it difficult to breathe. The treatment for cancer can involve pain, nausea, vomiting, weight loss and more. The diagnosis can create a swarm of negative thoughts and feelings. It can bring depression and anger. One way to reassert some control in one's life after a cancer diagnosis is to use fitness as a tool.

Taking charge of one thing can make a huge difference in self-worth. Cancer patients do not have to become Olympic gold medalists to reap the benefits of fitness. They can assess their own abilities and work with them. If running is not possible, walk. If walking is not possible, stretch. Take the first step of knowing where and when your pain threshold is reached. The next step is finding a fitness activity that works and doing it. It is okay to take some time off during treatment. It is okay to forego fitness when the body refuses to cooperate. Let those things go and take what control you can take when you can take it.

Cancer can take a lot out of a person. It can leave them tired and unhappy. The great thing about taking control with fitness is that it can increase energy levels and help boost one's mood. The change might be slight, but putting happiness before the disease and not succumbing completely to its trials can help on both a psychological and physical level. Furthermore, fitness can bring about routine in a life otherwise dictated by medication doses and appointments.

Cancer patients can take even more control by joining fitness clubs and groups specifically designed for cancer patients. They can make new friends and find comfort in helping and being helped. They can encourage and be encouraged. They can take strides to being healthier while watching others do the same. The motivational spirit among cancer patients is inspiring. Taking advantage of that community enables cancer patients to be in control while being shown just how possible it is by their peers.

It does not matter if cancer has just recently become a part of a person's lifestyle or it has been beaten back; it is still important to enable oneself to feel good. Going for long walks after being diagnosed can help give one the time and endorphins to put things into perspective. Fitness during treatment can help the treatment work and treat depression. Fitness during remission can promote feelings of control and mitigate the fear of recurrence. Done responsibly, fitness is never a bad idea for a cancer patient.

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