Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Keep Moving!

Twice a week I drive up to the hospital and head down to the gymnasium in the bowels of the building.  Usually when I arrive, the previous exercise group is just finishing up but I can always tell who is in my group: the other group has babies and bags under their eyes, my group has headscarves and wrinkles.  It really doesn't seem so long ago that I was in the antenatal group myself...

My group are a jolly bunch, all things considered.  Sometimes someone has to sit down for a bit because they feel dizzy and none of us exactly drip with sweat due to exertion but we all have a go and a bit of a giggle at the same time.  Not bad when most of us are doing chemo, some have metastasised breast cancer, one has ovarian cancer, all of us have been under the knife.

We do the machines first and I always get frustrated because I have to go slowly or my heart rate flies up.  Apparently this is because of low red blood cells: the heart has to work harder to get enough oxygen around the body and so the physios circle round us reminding us again and again to breathe.  Then we do some work on the mats, the sort of small movements that look easy but cause agony by the time you've done it twenty times. Picture a hall full of women of a certain age wearing headscarves and attempting to exercise with strips of elastic and ankle weights...we must look hilarious.

And why does the hospital provide these sessions?  Because research has shown that physical exercise reduces the chances of the cancer returning.  Significantly.  In the old days they were always telling you to rest when you were on chemo, now the advice is to keep moving.  And it makes me feel better too: often I don't feel like going but I always have more energy afterwards.  Today my muscles still have the Taxol ache but at least they have a good reason to ache now! 

I have to confess that, before all this, I was getting a bit on the middle-aged flabby side.  Is it possible that I'll end up in better shape than I was before my diagnosis?  I can live in hope.

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