Breast Cancer - Gym
My name is Nicky Wakefield. I am nothing out of the ordinary, a 52 year old mother, a dedicated gym lover who has used her nursing and fitness instructor background to get through an extraordinary medical history. I have HLA B27 associated diseases (Rheumatoid arthritis, Crohns disease, complete with ileostomy and iritis). So far so good and managed well with exercise and drugs, including a low dose chemotherapy agent. Therefore a diagnoses of breast cancer stage 3 was not expected or predicted.
After all I was fit, underweight, breast fed both my children and had no family history, neither did I smoke or drink (OK...I lied about the last bit.. I love a glass of wine but my drug regime prevents me from any excess!). My breast cancer treatment was standard, a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy (FEC-T), then reconstruction and 5 years of Tamoxifen. In a situation when you feel a passive patient and reactive to all the problems I know I needed to be proactive. The gym and exercise was part of me, what I am and what I love doing...Cancer could take away my breasts, hair, health and time BUT it was not going to take my identity.
Every morning through treatment I went to the gym, even on the days when the only thing that did not hurt were my earlobes. I took antibacterial gel to protect my compromised immune system and copious amounts of lemon/ginger water to combat my nausea. I hurt, I laughed and I was slow and weak, but I was ME. Doing something I loved. I got tremendous support from my fellow gym buddies and occasionally would be exercising alongside my Consultant surgeon (an austere lady in her professional capacity but warm and interesting when working out on neighbouring cross trainers).
The early morning effort paid off, I was not isolated and felt proactive in my treatment, visualising my body getting stronger for the battles ahead. I suffered relatively few Chemotherapy side effects and when fatigue did strike I could allow myself permission to stop.
My advice to all fellow Cancer patients is... keep doing what you love...your body will let you know what feels good, follow your own instincts and don't let others discourage you. Exercise for me is as needed as breathing. it's not about weight, size or image. it's about the fabulous machine that makes us (mental, emotional and physical) keeping it in good condition so it is ready to fight all the unseen battles ahead and enjoy everyday to its best.
I have include a photo of me whilst in the middle of treatment (I really am not one for 'gym selfies!).. The photo's were taken 20 mins apart as I went to the gym in wig and false eyelashes etc so no one ..apart from my friends had any idea of my medical status...You really can live life and carry on doing what you love...
If this helps just one person then I will be SO happy.