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.


Three Months on Chemo: Training Log Update

The Training and How it Felt

The highlight of this month is that I met a physical therapist who specializes in treating cancer patients on the day that I got my first cycle of Taxol on July 3rd. I asked for specific advice on what kind and how much exercise I should do while on Chemo. This is the advice I have been wanting since day one and I am so happy to have found this individual to give me some guidance. She gave me support for what I have been doing, but encouraged me to incorporate intervals into my running. In some ways I have been naturally doing this when running outside since I have been taking walk breaks when I found my heart rate had risen to what I believed was too high. She added more specific guidelines though which I thought was very helpful. Specifically, she suggested that when my heart rate was above 150 I should take a walk break until it had recovered into the 130's. The bigger change I made based on this advice was in my classes at Formula where intervals are part of the treadmill portion of the class. Prior to the PT's advice, I had just been running a slow steady pace rather than doing the intervals as instructed by the class teacher. Now I have started speeding up and adding the incline as instructed and then coming back down to a walk rather than the slower run as I would have done in my pre-diagnosis state. I have noticed that throughout the month after incorporating these changes, it seems to take less time for my heart rate to recover into the 130's and when outside running, I have been able to run longer distances without having to take a walk break. The other thing to keep in mind is that the chemo has changed starting this month. Taxol in general seems to be easier on me. I have noticed that I have muscle aches and swelling starting the weekend after receiving the taxol, but otherwise my energy level in general has been better compared to the AC.

What Did the Data Show

I am not sure if these are significant differences, but my average RHR is down by 2 beats/min (63 vs 65) compared to last month and my average HRV is up by 5. These numbers are heading in a better direction. But the changes are small, so it might not mean anything. This could be due to the subtle changes I have made in the way I have been training or maybe related to this "easier chemo". Who knows?

I also had more recovery scores in the "red zone" in the last half of the month. Interestingly, as much as I have tried to minimize life stress, there were additional things around this time that seem to correspond to these red days. In the last weekend of July, I went to the beach with the family. Although it was fun and totally worth it, it seems that my body noticed this as stress.

Chemo on July 3rd and July 17

12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


  • facebook

Thanks for submitting!