I know first hand what it’s like to watch someone I love battle cancer. In 2011, my wife Melissa was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. During her radiation treatments my family and I made certain lifestyle adjustments that could help her in the recovery process. I also received a certification called breast cancer recovery exercise programs. Fast forward to 2014 and Melissa is diagnosed with breast cancer, again! After receiving the news of her cancer coming back, Melissa with my support, decided to have a double mastectomy. I was prepared to help her again with my experience in breast cancer recovery.
I utilized the knowledge I obtained from this program and created a plan of action to help not only my family, but other families dealing with cancer, more specifically breast cancer.
“I was terrified getting diagnosed the first time but Scott helped me through all my treatments and helped me gain my strength and confidence, in not only my body, but also my mind. My training post double mastectomy has been a much slower process, however I never doubted that I would be back to my normal self with Scott’s knowledge and support. (I’m almost there!!)” Melissa stated.
If you had cancer and now are on the road to recovery or you know someone who is a survivor, first, congratulations! Secondly, make sure you have your doctor’s permission to resume activity.
Once the green light is given to workout, I am ready to help. While my program is directed for post cancer treatment, I can also offer advice to people who are exercising during their treatments.
- Start slowly and light (especially in the upper body). Whether or not you had surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or any other form of treatment, you have gone through a lot of stress and your upper body will most likely be tight and not as strong.
- Focus on good posture. Movements that help with this work on your Rhomboids and Scapula (upper back), along with your medial and posterior deltoids (shoulders), as well as your core. The tightness from your treatments may cause you to round out your shoulders. You may be self-conscious of whatever treatment you had, which can lead to not opening your chest and shoulders. Incorporating exercises such as bent over rear deltoids, wide grip pull-downs, lat raises, planks, etc. can help with this.
- Stay positive. Realize you are strong beautiful woman who is a SURVIVOR! Remind yourself daily that you deserve to feel and look the way you want.
- Choose exercises you enjoy doing. The key is to get you back into the swing of things, build up your confidence, and get you feeling and looking the way you want. Choosing exercises that are effective and you like will help you stay on the plan.
- Choose a realistic amount of times you can workout each week. I suggest 3-4 days of strength training, 1-2 days of Yoga, and 20-30 minutes of cardiopulmonary exercises. About 4 days a week is suggested for the intermediate to advanced, while beginners should start at 2 days a week and move up from there.
- Track your progress. This will help you visually see the strength gains you are making along with the physical changes that are occurring.
- Hire a certified personal trainer, preferably one that specializes in this area. Your trainer should be able to help you start out slowly, focus on good posture, work on your self esteem, choose the best exercises, set realistic guidelines and track your progress.
- If you have had surgery of any kind (lumpectomy, mastectomy, reconstruction) you will need to work your way back to exercising slowly. I suggest utilizing a physical therapist and/or massage therapist in addition to training. Working closely with individuals in these professions has enabled me to help get my clients back to “normal” sooner than later. My mental approach (learning to love your body and the changes that have occurred), along with nutrition guidance, and training for posture and strength, without comprise, is what I think separates me from other trainers.
With the above guidelines, make sure you are safe and realize your body has changed. Be patient with your body, as it may take you some time to feel “normal” again.
When working out make sure you stay hydrated, dress comfortably, stretch daily, and workout with a trainer, friend and/or carry your cell phone on you in case of an emergency.
Stop exercising immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Swelling and/or pain in your joints.
- Chest pain.
- Unusual muscle pain. It is common to have soreness and tightness after exercise, but if the muscles “hurt” and feel strained or torn, stop!
- Blurred vision.
- Numbness and/or tingling.
If you would like to find out more about my Breast Cancer Recovery Exercise Program, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.