Walking on Sunshine

29 Nov

Most important things first: Our friends, Bob and Charlene, lost their home in a fire last Tuesday.  Please remember them in your prayers this week and in the coming weeks as they sort through everything, deal with insurance adjusters, cope with the loss of precious treasures that cannot be replaced, and begin the process of rebuilding their home.

I’ve felt better the past two weeks than I have since I began chemo on August 10.  So what’s different?

Source: ThinkStockPhotos.com

Exercise.

{GASP!} I could hear the air just get sucked out of the room.  Exercise???  Rachel, you must be joking.

No joke.

When I see Dr. Daniel tomorrow, I’m going to have to tell him he’s a pretty smart guy.  (I’m sure he’s been waiting his whole life for me to make him aware of this fact!  ha ha!!)  He told me activity/exercise would help with the fatigue.

Part of me didn’t really believe him.  I mean, the guy has a medical degree from Johns Hopkins and all, but I just didn’t want to believe that he knew what he was talking about.  :)

The fatigue can be so strong at times that the thought of walking from the bedroom to the kitchen seems absurd.  I thought (with my vast array of medical knowledge), “how can I feel less fatigued when I’m using up what little energy I have exercising??”

Well.  I think he was right.

For the past two weeks, I’ve exercised every morning with the exception of 4 days surrounding Thanksgiving.  I’m not talking about a lot of exercise by ANY stretch of the imagination.  I’m talking about 15 minutes on the treadmill doing intervals of walking and running: 3 minutes walking, 1 minute running and repeat for 15 minutes.  Nothing crazy or ambitious by any means.

Every day that I’ve exercised, I’ve felt really good.  Actually, I’ve felt really GREAT – probably the best since chemo began.  I’ve had so much energy during the first half of the day that one morning last week someone called me perky.  Me!  Rachel Turner – perky!  Ha!!  What a riot.

I used to start fading around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon.  That’s when the fatigue would really kick in and I would feel tired the rest of the day.  Now that I’m getting in just a tiny little bit of exercise each day, the fatigue doesn’t really kick in until 6:00 or 7:00 in the evening.

I’ve also had zero nausea on the days that I’ve exercised.  None.  Not a tiny little hint of it.

What’s really surprising is that any exercise could have this big of an impact on cancer-related fatigue, much less such a small amount of exercise.  It was just three weeks ago that I was feeling the worst I’ve felt since treatment started.  It was the toughest round, the nausea and fatigue lasted longer and were more intense than previous rounds and yet, in just a few weeks with the help of a little physical activity, I feel great.

On the four days that I did not exercise, I skipped it because I was too busy (cooking, traveling to visit family, etc.).  I know, what an excuse, huh?  On those days, I felt more tired toward the end of the day.  It’s hard to know if the fatigue was from not exercising or the fact that I was busier than normal.  Could have been both things contributed to it, but I think not exercising had a major part in my being tired.

Thanks to Dr. Daniel’s advice and my own personal experience with the treadmill, I think I’ve found a way to make the last two to three weeks of each cycle even better than before.  If exercise can keep the chemo side effects at bay, I’m in!

However, I’m not sure Pumpkin shares my new enthusiasm.  His idea of “getting on the treadmill” involves lying down on the treadmill!  :)

♥ Rachel

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6 Responses to “Walking on Sunshine”

  1. The Savvy Sister November 29, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    Not just with fatigue, but it also does wonders for your immune system. Good for you!

    • rachturner December 4, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

      I hadn’t thought about the immune system benefits, but hopefully that is helping me stay infection free right now while my white’s care down.

  2. Kathy November 29, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    Ever thought Pumpkin might be trying to keep you from turning on the treadmill. Cats are like that you know, always planning their next move!

    • rachturner December 4, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

      Kathy – I think you could be right. Since he is so lazy, he probably wants me to be lazy, too!! ha ha

  3. Susan December 3, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    I 100% agree!! I get how backwards it seems because the fatigue is SO strong some days, one would think exercise would just make us more tired. But exercise for me is better than a cup of coffee. It really does perk me up, not just physically, but puts me in a better mood too. I’ve been walking outdoors mostly, but we have a recumbent bike machine that I’ll hop on sometimes and just spin my legs while watching TV. The hardest part is breaking through the fatigue to start the exercise, but knowing how truly great I’ll feel after is enough motivation for me. My oncologist won’t let me run though. Boo!

    • rachturner December 4, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

      Susan – I agree that the hardest part is pushing past the fatigue and getting started. Once I get moving, it is easier to keep moving. Bummer on the no running right now, but I know you’ll get there soon and it will feel SO good when you do. :)

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