Tag Archives: exercise


Yesterday it rained and rained as if it wasn’t going to end.  It rained all through the night. This morning it looked as though we were in for more of the same. Until the sun came out.

Nothing for it but to go for a walk, if only to show off what’s emerging on my head.

Sunday 17 August


looking ahead

grevillea - 18 June 2014 - Tokyo & inverted - FX Photo Studio PROI’ve finally come up for air after the last chemo dose, just in time for 20 zaps of radiation over four weeks starting next Wednesday.

What’s exercising my mind, however, is what comes after that.

You’re saying, “Wait, there’s more?”

Yes. Yes there is.

The majority of breast cancers are Endocrine Receptor positive meaning that oestrogen, once a useful friend, has become another F word.

This foe will require 5 years of daily tablet popping. In consultation with my oncologist, I will get to select one or other from a family of aromatase inhibitors. Aromatase is an enzyme responsible for converting androgens to oestrogen. Don’t you think androgens sound a bit like alien life forms?

This seems all very straightforward until you start researching the suite of potential side effects*. These may include but are not exclusive to:

  • loss of bone density;
  • back to the future menopausal symptoms;
  • fatigue (universal to all of the treatments thus far);
  • joint and muscle pain (more common than you’d hope);
  • mood changes (watch out!)
  • poor sleep; and
  • weight gain (really?)

As someone who has low bone density already, I was concerned enough about these impacts to have a chat with my GP yesterday. Thankfully, she didn’t minimise my concerns and took the time to outline a range of potential options.

There’s one word that keeps coming up in conversation and reading.

E X E R C I S E.   That doesn’t start with the letter F so it looks like I’m going to have to learn to love the E word.

*As an aside, nobody mentioned any of this at the start of the treatment planning. I don’t know whether people feel as if you can’t handle too much information up front, but I would have appreciated a heads up a bit earlier.

looking after self: exercise

Some days it feels like all of the messengers in and of the universe are lining up for an intervention. It’s easy to treat them as the enemy rather than signals worthy of your attention.

Yesterday was one of those days. It was Day 9 of the second chemo cycle. My spirit and energy levels were picking up. It was lining up as a fine day, all things considered, until someone near and dear to me, who is reading Jennifer Saunders’ memoir Bonkers, felt the need to let me know that she kept very active during her chemo treatment.

On further investigation, Ms Saunders’ reported high activity levels came as a result of the steroids we take just before and after each chemo dose. This quote about her treatment generally rings more true for me.

“From one day to the next, you never really know how you’re going to feel: some days you can go for a long walk, the next you get breathless after a few steps. Sometimes you stay in bed; sometimes you just have to get up. It is the most frustrating thing: you have the perfect excuse just to lie abed, but you can’t because you feel like you should make an effort”.


Nevertheless other signs about the importance of some level of exercise, as and when the days allow, continued to appear.

Taking a few photographs in the garden pointed to a few balance issues.

I realised that my daily stretching exercises for another condition have fallen by the wayside.

An exercise physiologist named David Miszrahi just happened followed this blog. His work includes developing exercise plans (during and post-chemotherapy) for women with ovarian cancer.

Then last night, I was shocked to notice that the muscle tone in my calves has fallen away considerably over recent weeks. The only real exercise that’s happened thus far is in the final week of the first cycle where I held my own in a clothes shopping expedition.

So the balancing game continues. Do what you can, when you can. Make it a priority. Start slow and build up. And keep the long game in mind. The chemo will accelerate the ageing process. That doesn’t mean it should have all the power.




orchids - Waterlogue - Grungetastic - FX Photo Studio - Color Sun spotsForty-eight hours out from the first treatment and this is what I’m learning about my particular experience thus far. I say particular, because, as I keep being told, everyone responds differently to the chemical cocktail.

List keeping helps.  A few months ago, I started a bullet journal to keep tabs of tasks, ideas and diary dates. It’s suiting the purpose very well for monitoring tasks required with the treatment – temperature taking, oral hygiene, times to take medicines, number of glasses of water etc. Feeling in some level of control of what’s going on is helpful.

Be aware of potential side effects, be ready for them, but don’t go looking because some may not come visiting. Yesterday, Himself (aka Hero) administered an injection to boost my white blood cells in preparation for the low immunity period that’s approaching.  As it goes straight to the bone marrow, we were told to prepare for potential back, jaw or sternum pain. So far so good. The worst that’s come so far is a dull headache that’s being managed well with paracetamol.

Eat what you feel like (at least at this stage of the cycle).  Up until now, things are pretty much normal, although I am enjoying the capacity to feel like, make and consume a berry, banana and yoghurt smoothie at any time of the day.

Drink lots of water.  It’s making a difference.  Can’t say how, but it is.

Be curious about any changes that are taking place. That toasted cheese sandwich I felt like at lunch time? That was no cheese taste between that bread. 🙂  Sweet foods like the rhubarb yoghurt as an after-lunch treat are going down a little better.

Be grateful for the person who’s keeping on top of household chores, including sending out the ironing and shopping for specific requests.

Sleep when you feel like it.  If you’re woken up by the whistling tunes of your 80 year old neighbour next door, all the better.

Move about when you can. I’m about to take my own advice and gear up for a short walk in the afternoon breeze while the sun is out.