Hanging on to Fitness and a Few Strands of Hair Through Breast Cancer Treatment

I am a Medical Oncologist, a wife, a mother of 4, runner of 12 marathons training to run my 13th with a goal to qualify for Boston when the diagnosis of breast cancer caused a significant detour in my well-planned life. When I asked for guidance on how to continue to stay fit while receiving treatment, I received blank stares and found little data. While I never intended to be in this experiment, I find myself now generating my own data about fitness through the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. I am writing this in hopes to help others who find themselves in this same situation.


First Month of Radiation: Training Log Update

The Training and How it Felt

I had almost a full month break from any treatment before starting radiation on Sept 9. Radiation is every day, Monday-Friday and I will have a total of 30 treatments.

Running is feeling better every day that I am away from chemotherapy. When I run outside, I almost never need walk breaks now. I have started taking the more intense treadmill only class at Formula called Focus which is 45 minutes on the treadmill incorporating longer and faster intervals or hills. For these classes, my self imposed rule is that as long as my heart rate stays below the 170's, for the recovery periods I will drop back to a slow run rather than a walk, but if I start hitting the 170's, then I will walk during the recovery periods. I have been taking one of these classes each week and have noticed that I am able to run longer before getting in to the 170's heart rates each time. My current goal is to get through a whole Focus class without having to walk. A girl has to have goals.

But as running is getting better, strength training is more of a challenge now after this Parsonage Turner diagnosis. I continue to do the strength training, but I have to make a lot of modifications now due to my right arm weakness. Specifically, my serratus anterior is out and therefore things like planks, push ups, chest press, or anything requiring me to lift my arm over my head, are just not possible. I have been going to physical therapy at least once/week and have been substituting PT activities during class when there are activities I am not able to do. It does seem that the arm strength is gradually improving, but it is far from normal at this time.

What Does the Data Show?

My average resting heart rate is lower than the past 2 months. My average HRV is about the same.

Radiation started on Sept. 9, and continued every week day this month.

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