“I was more afraid to go to Maple Tree than I was to start chemotherapy.”
Yes, you read that right.
Last week, I had lunch with a long-time patient of ours and this was what she said to me.
I’ll be honest. It left me speechless.
And I’m never at a loss for words!
I have been working and conducting research in the field of exercise oncology for more than 16 years. This was the first time I ever really stopped to consider the magnitude of what it means for a patient to begin an exercise program in the middle of treatment.
It really is a big step.
Think about it – 85% of the people we work with were completely sedentary before being diagnosed with cancer.
I share this statistic almost daily. I use it as justification for why we offer our programs for free. It makes sense – if someone didn’t exercise before a cancer diagnosis, it is a BIG DEAL to begin to exercise in the middle of treatment.
Think about it – during cancer treatment, how do you feel?
“Of course. This is why we offer exercise training for free. We have no choice but to give it away!” I always say.
It always gets a chuckle.
It also puts in perspective what our patients are up against when they begin an exercise program.
Or, at least I thought it did.
But to hear that someone was more afraid to come to Maple Tree than she was to begin chemotherapy really challenged me.
I wanted to know – why, then, did you come?
Because the way I see it – exercise is a choice.
You didn’t have any say over whether or not you got cancer.
Short of foregoing treatment all together, you really don’t have much say over your treatment regimen.
There is not much you can do to control how your body responds to that treatment.
You can’t change if, when, or for how long you stay in remission.
All scary things. Yet, these are all scary things you are forced to deal with when you get diagnosed with cancer.
If exercise is one more scary thing on that list – at least now you have a choice to avoid it, right? No one is forcing you to get on that treadmill!
So, what then, pushes a person to see past the fear and try exercise anyway?
Why does someone do it scared?
I believe the answer is simple.
Maybe you can’t control the fact that you were diagnosed with cancer. Maybe that is really hard for you to accept.
Maybe you are sick and tired of being made sick and tired by your treatments.
Maybe you desperately want to go into remission so you can get back a sense of normalcy in your life.
Maybe….Just maybe…Exercising will help you do just that!
It’s true – I’ve read most of the 15,000 published research articles on this topic. I’ve seen it in the thousands of patients we have served over the years. And I saw it in the life of this woman I shared a meal with last week.
All say the same thing.
EXERCISE IS MEDICINE.
Exercise is hope.
Exercise is the ability to dream again.
Exercise is the ability to finally let go of the things you cannot control and embrace the things you can.
This is why you do it scared.