Tag Archives: radiation

Tahitian dancing - before I was a Mommy
Tahitian dancing – before I was a Mommy

Yes, you read it right! Thanks to a hula sister who invited me to take a class with her instructor, I conquered TWO hip-switchin’ hours of Tahitian dance training. It felt good to be back on the floor!  I’m grateful my leg didn’t go numb and become a useless stump (I have mild sciatica).

Dance victories: 

  • Danced alongside my daughter again, who didn’t quit or whine. She pushed right through it and enjoyed the music & laughter.
  • Danced beside ohana for the first time in over ten years
  • Barefoot, dancing, energized past 8pm
  • Embraced the way I looked in the studio mirror – all I saw was a woman who was happy and trying her best.

I have tightness in my joints and particularly, my hips. This is a common and lasting side effect from chemo/radiation. Radiation was in the pelvic region so the occasional joint and hip creaking is not uncommon. Neurologists have told me to stay active and that the tightness will eventually go away. My dr also recommended yoga to combat the tightness and to give myself a workout without pounding the dance floor with such fervor.

Notice that the dr’s say “eventually,” and they don’t give a timeline. The majority of data available on lasting effects of chemo/rad is with an older age group (60 – 70s). We are still in the stages of collecting data about the effects on a younger population (under 50yrs old).

In some ways, I might be a pioneer for that. And you are, too, if you’re recovering from something similar. I came across some people who would bark diet and exercise tips to me, as if it were a matter of self-discipline. But it’s not that easy.

We’re dealing with a re-acquaintance process of getting to know our bodies all over again. I know I’m never going to be the same and I welcome that! It’s really about creating your own story of healing and renewal. This time, for me,  it was through dance.

I encourage you to relish in things that you can do now that you couldn’t do before. You need to see how far you’ve come in your healing. I may not be as fit, fast or flexible as I was ten years ago, but I’m better than I was a year ago! 

 

Scrap the advice – this is my story!

I learned that I am responsible for creating my own fitness and health story.

Chemo and radiation changed my body in a way that still isn’t truly measurable. When I would go to the dr during my treatment sessions, I was having symptoms and pain that they were following closely. One reason was my age. I am in my thirties, which meant my central nervous system is still very active. The data that dr’s had is from patients in their 60’s or older, so their response differed because their central nervous system was not as active. I had new and different pain – different from what the dr’s were used to seeing.

It’s not just about exercise and diet.
I was working out twice a week. But I knew that radiation’s effects were still in my body. The best way I could describe it was that my organs felt “numb.” Even though my blood work came back relatively normal, I knew my body was not responsive to the hard exercise and that it needed rest and time for effects of radiation to leave my body.

Scrap the advice.
I read the fitness blogs, the exercise websites and other stories of triumph. But I realized that a lot of the advice was for people who were already healthy or lazy people who needed step-by-step motivation.

Don’t get me wrong. I took those valuable stories and paid attention to the foods, exercises and the winner’s mindset that they all had in common. But I eventually came to accept that my body was not in the same category. That was neither good nor bad. It was just different.

I finally discovered my missing link.
I was looking to pattern my weight loss and fitness after a system.
While there are a lot of amazing, results-driven systems out there, I missed the mark in that I needed to build my own fitness regimen which meant the following:

1. Accept complete responsibility
It took me 15 years to gain this 20lbs. I needed to acknowledge that it will take time to permanently lose this excess weight.  (Here is where I get to blame the Baptist church that celebrates with really good food – dinners, pie socials, Sunday school breakfasts that strong coffee. I’m not complaining. I’m just saying, I could probably skip a trip to the donut table a couple of time a month.)

2. What do I really have time for?
The fitness gurus say “an hour a day.” I am still in financial recovery so an hour away from work is a lot of time, especially since I’m still balancing responsibilities that I couldn’t get to while I was in treatment. I scrapped that pressure about prioritizing and decided that for that week, for that day, that was all I can do. This meant that I couldn’t get on the rush wagon to lose 30lbs in one year. This meant I had to be okay with losing this weight, a few ounces a month, if that’s what it came down to, especially if it meant losing it permanently.

3. Juicing, cooking, dieting – who’s gonna clean up?
I’m already less-than-gifted in the kitchen. It was really hard to admit that I can’t do it all. Trying harder wasn’t working. Workouts and recipes  seemed to always need an extra something-else that I didn’t have or didn’t have time or money to buy. I had to admit that the ideas sound better than the outcome. The alternative: reduce my intake, get enough sleep so I won’t overeat to stay awake.

4. What’s my real starting point?
I decided to get a clear picture of where I really am. Time to use my new scale!

I started weighing myself twice a day – morning and night. I also logged what time I went to sleep and what time I wake up. I wanted to calculate my average weight and see if I was actually getting a minimum of 8 hrs of sleep. Uh, it was more like 6hrs.

Taking ownership of my fitness journey gave me a sense of control. It prepared my mind and resources for a clearer direction of success.  I stopped feeling helpless and defeated. Any good coach or trainer would rather that you be honest with where you are so they can map how far you need to go. There is a lot of great information out there on health and fitness. There are a lot of heroes who have overcome the odds to finally take charge of their health. I learned that I needed to be my own cheerleader, coach, guide, and realist. And, donut patrol. (shrugs) Just sayin’.