Movement and Cancer

5th September 2014: London, United Kingdom

Today can only be described as one of those days. From the very moment of opening my eyes, I knew the struggle ahead. To make matters worse, the thought of insufficient almond milk in the fridge appeared to be a disaster. Consequnetly, a sedated, blurry eyed version of myself, certain to be mistaken for an individual suffering from a big night walked to the local shop. The day unfolded in a way I’m hoping to become less frequent as time progresses. After breakfast, an observer would have noticed a dishevelled skinny frame wearing his shirt inside outside whilst displaying a sour look scorned across his face laying horizontally on the couch, ready to deal with the tortuous day ahead. I didn’t shift till a proven successful sequence at 4pm deployed on numerous occasions broke this dull feeling. The extremely recommended routine consists of forcing myself to inject some movement into my day. Although it may be the least favourable proposition, particularly with a full hard-drive and a gloomy day (gee it sounds depressing just writing it) sending no sunlight through the closed windows. The sequence is some form of movement followed by breathing/mediation exercises allowing my body and mind to make the necessary shift. The thought of movement when having no energy, not being able to eat and thinking you may tumble when walking may appears ridiculous, however, movement in some form is essential, and on every occasion it has proved successful. The activity doesn’t need to be strenuous, differing for each person, pending their age, capacity, support and surrounding environment, however, I believe it should form a plan that each person with cancer should already have or be in the process of putting together. My choice of movement is yoga. Yes a bit of a cliche these days, and I will admit I was unable to connect with the process prior to falling unwell. The physical, emotional, social and spiritual (for some) benefits obtained from practicing on a daily basis need to be stressed. The choice is for others to make, and I’m not going to follow up with the option of providing yoga classes for a fee, yet, I would encourage all to undertake or try yoga as it’s an activity whereby some classes (yin/hatha) are slow and restorative. Moreover, on other days when more energy is available, a serious workout will leave you feeling refreshed and reinvigorated. Also, in essence you are concentrating on breathing plus becoming flexible in the body and mind.

Movement has always been important to me, growing up playing all sorts of sports then later during my twenties focusing on fitness. In regards to my treatment, from those very fist days whilst hitting the button to send morphine into my body, I was completely focused on recovering. The recovery I envisioned wasn’t just getting back to normal. Rather, surpassing how I had ever been before. Obviously, I have a long way forward, and I am continuously tracking my progress in the form of a daily diary. The diary encompasses all my movement, side effects experienced and recently my daily food intake. In addition, a monthly picture is taken to be used in the future to see the transitions taking place within my body. Initially, I had blinded myself from thinking about the reality chemotherapy, and once it dawned on me, I started to think about how my life would be lived for the next few years. I did not allow my thoughts to spiral into a place of depression. Instead, I started implementing some of my positive thinking. I outlined a programme/routine that I would adhere to, and today is a prime example of that approach in action. The programme entails the necessary period my body needs to rest, however, being completely aware of the importance of movement in my life. The effects are immediate once I complete some movement, usually yoga, then direct concentration to some meditation exercises. Yes, it is not always enjoyable but is siting on a couch all day, thinking about how sick my body feels? Also, to mention, I will allow myself one day a week/fortnight if feeling really tried over a continual period, however, as noted, I force myself knowing full well how I will feel after finishing the routine.

The importance of movement was instilled into my new life on the very first day of taking the chemotherapy. It is a day to always remember, wet, windy and cold conditions pierced my skin when waking to the pool. Not as cold comparable to European winters, yet, cold, windy and wet enough to force many people indoors. The decision was made at approximately 3pm, consisting of walking to an outside un-heated pool. It is probably not viewed as the best idea, and being the only person in the pool demonstrates this, however, it was one of the first mental steps taken towards both implementing my plan and not allowing the chemotherapy to completely overtake my life. My recommendation to others if feeling tired or a little low is to try some movement, and for me walking and swimming in the water to complete some gentle laps was perfect. If you really think about it, are there many more times when all your senses are switched on, making you feel alive. Whether it be the cold breeze almost stinging my weakened body, a hissing of the wind in the ears or seeing trees blowing from side to side. Then the dive in the water to undertake some laps, nothing to overly exert myself. At present, I considered it another victory, and view myself like a hoarder whom from the time of waking up out of surgery is collecting all the victories possible. To conclude, the decision can be simple, get onto the floor, start your breathing, say some affirmations before beginning, i.e. I am flexible, I am strong.

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