Last Friday was a cool Friday. I felt achieved. I had taken my students through simple aerobics and stretch exercises. From their happy faces I could tell, they were satisfied. Watching them still dancing to my Zumba collection while I walked away felt like watching little kids smashing their pizza pieces with gracious joy. Well, I was happy too and was bound to head into my restful weekend. Just a weekend with an indoor plan!
As I was heading into the shower room, up came a poster on my whatsapp- Women for Cancer-date 20th January 2018. It was taking place on a Saturday. “Should I participate or not,” I wondered. “I would think through it once I was out of the shower,” I promised myself. I read through the poster once again and was extremely elated. It was a fitness venture and I love them a lot. But my participation this time round was more than fitness. I lost my 75 year old loving mum to cancer. I was obliged to participate and be an ambassador of exercising to prevent cancer. That evening, I messaged my friend Nancy and Rozzie. Would my two friends join me, I doubted. Nancy, a cancer survivor, declined my invitation to a staircase race and a blessing challenge. I felt disappointed. Well, Rozzie gladly joined me on Saturday morning.
Rozzie and I were the last to arrive at the venue. Adorned in pretty $10 t-shirts., we were slotted into a team five. At the count of 3, 2, 1…we scaled 11 floors of staircases of this new hotel in town, signaling fitness as a measure towards preventing cancer. Of course the 10 dollars each of the 30 participants paid for t-shirts would cater for at least 30 free pap smears.
Survivors of cancer like my friend and getting through the cancer treatment is an enviable achievement. She has not only found priority in keeping cancer away by eating right and maintaining a positive attitude but also counselling and encouraging other cancer patients. I accompanied her on most of her visits. Unfortunately for her, she does not appreciate exercising which has been confirmed by researchers to be helpful to cancer patients. My greatest piece of advice to survivors like Nancy is to think through what else can help them stay healthy. Exercise can help them achieve long term health. According to Keery Courneya, a Professor and researcher in Physical Activity and Cancer at the University Of Alberta Edmonton, Canada, the more a person exercises, the more they prevent cancer and the lesser its recurrence.
It is known that cancer treatment slows down patients. But this should not be a barrier to exercising which should be started as soon as the patient is able to undertake it. Exercise contributes to increased level of fitness, strong body and reduces fatigue besides improving the mood and boosting a patient’s self-confidence. Healthy Individuals reap the same benefits too. Stretching exercises are good for mobility, aerobics ensure cardiovascular fitness while resistance training, builds lean muscles. I wish Nancy, a cancer survivor, would take up some resistance training to loose fat which she gained following a sedentary lifestyle after treatment.
It’s important that cancer patients or survivors get clearance for exercise from their physician and get moving.