What can I do to increase my chance for survival?
This seems like an aggressive question, but I think all of us think this at some point. Throw a cancer diagnosis in the mix, I imagine it’s a much more common and frequent question.
I have said this before, but I am not a cancer patient or a cancer survivor. I do understand, however, that the cancer “process” or “journey” or whatever you’d like to label it, is a very overwhelming thing. It’s a constant “am I doing the right thing????” feeling, and I have seen first hand the stress, anxiety, and uncertainty that cancer brings. I’ve been with individuals before they are supposed to go and find out what their last scan shows after they’ve completed an aggressive round of chemo. There are no words that I can share to imply that I actually fully understand what they’re going through, other than the brutal reality of “man this has to be so overwhelming, I’m sorry you’re going through this right now.” And even that has probably unintentionally offended people at times.
All this to say, I think people are constantly asking “how can I increase my chance for survival?” when making decisions about treatment, what they’re eating, what they’re doing to be as chemical-free as possible, what they’re doing to stay as healthy as possible overall etc. And, if you consider exercise or being active through treatment, hooooly bonkers. I can’t even imagine.
Not only are there limited resources for the cancer population; when it comes to physical activity, exercise, or staying active, there are really very few and more often than not, there are none. Think about how many people are in the world, and how many other cities and towns there are aside from the big ones. Consider the fact that cancer patients may have to drive 4+ hours for treatment. That’s going to be their priority then, right? Treatment. The other stuff would be nice, but dietitians, trainers that understand cancer, mental health counselors etc., are all just something that isn’t in the cards when you’re trying to get to treatment and maintain some level of normalcy.
So, there’s always the internet then, right? Of course. You can find out that if you eat a banana every morning for breakfast, you’ll shrink that pesky waistline of yours by 6 inches. And if you do push-ups a certain way, you’ll soon look just like Jessica Biel. Ah yes, the interweb holds all the secrets. Joking aside, there is certainly accurate information out there that is credible, and useful, and important for folks to find. But, who has time for that? And also, someone who is already questioning everything they do as to whether it’s good or not, they certainly are less inclined to sift through all of the information.
I started this organization because, when it comes to being physically active through and after treatment, I know the information that is accurate, useful, and immensely important for a better chance at survival. My goal is to empower individuals dealing with cancer to feel confident in a very important decision about their health, especially in a time of such overwhelming uncertainty.
Being active does not mean doing something you hate. In fact, it won’t be successful or sustainable if you hate it. Do what you like to do in terms of movement. Exercise does not always mean being in the gym. If you don’t like a gym setting, save your freaking money. Your goals are your goals and how you get there only matters if you enjoy the “journey.” Oh the journey. Being active is a lot like socializing for your social health. If you socialize with somebody and they cause you emotional pain, (or even physical), you’re much less likely to continue spending time with them. It’s no different than being active; if it causes you pain or doesn’t bring you joy, you’ll cut that out right away.
All this to say, cancer can bring a lot of uncertainty, doubt, and questions that need answers. And for the most part, those answers are available, it just takes someone trustworthy to assist. When searching for the answers, it’s important to seek out credible people. Here’s a way to determine if a personal trainer or health coach is going to be giving you as accurate information as possible:
Ask about their certifications. Go to the organization’s website and evaluate the amount of training it took to earn the certification. You wouldn’t want your oncologist treating you if they had a weekend’s course to become an oncologist, so don’t settle for less in other professionals. Most nutritionist certifications are a quick weekender test, and unfortunately the same can be said for personal trainers. There are, however, Registered Dietitians who complete years of training in order to even sit for the exam. The same is true for personal trainers who get certified through credible organizations; credible meaning partially that it takes more than just a quick and easy test to be certified. The American College of Sports Medicine’s Cancer Exercise Trainer certification, for example, requires a degree, 500 hours of working with a clinical population by training them OR 10,000 hours of working with a clinical population by training them.
I hope this helps, or at least starts a conversation with yourself about ensuring that your sources of information can truly put you at ease. You are in control of a lot more than you may feel at times, and there are people out there who are willing, able, and wanting to help you.