Exercise After Cancer: Patient Perspective

My name is Greg “Bo” Bennett & I was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in April of this year. I have searched high and low for information on exercise and cancer, such as your article talking about aerobics and cancer.

I am utterly amazed that even the largest cancer organizations and largest cancer hospitals have no information or groups that promote exercise as a adjunct therapy. I have also searched for a group of folks who subscribe to “exercise as a therapy” to communicate with.

Posting boards and chat rooms seem to look more toward passive therapies.

FYI, I will pass on some info about myself and how I believe Exercise has helped me.

On April 13 I was diagnosed with a 3.7 cm. NSCLC, right upper lung. This was on the heals of six months and nine doctors telling me pain in my right hip and left humerous was due to a neck injury. I was scheduled for neck surgery when a routine chest X-Ray showed the mass.

I am a 53 year old male. I stopped smoking in 1986 and have been an avid exerciser ever since When this ordeal began in late September the pain in my arm and hip was all but unbearable.

My exercise routine quickly went from four to five times a week to maybe twice a week.

At that time my exercise routine consisted of 20+ minutes on a recumbent bike, ( heart rate. 125ish) while lifting dumbbell weights. I also hiked and jogged intermittently, that stopped abruptly as my hip wouldn’t allow the pounding or long hikes.

In March while I was being scheduled for neck fusion surgery I was all but a basket case from little sleep and nonstop pain. Even so, I made a point to increase my exercise routine so I would have an easier recovery.

Things began to ease up in that I began to sleep better, at that point I didn’t attribute the relief to the exercise I thought it was due to pain pills I was taking.

When I was DX in April I felt I had nothing left but exercise as my control over this situation and when I started chemo (late April) I decided to increase my time to 30 minutes a day.

Even though the doctor advised me to not lift dumbbells I opted to reduce the weight to a point where there was no pain and where I didn’t feel it was putting undue pressure on my arm. I began to feel better each day, even while receiving chemo.

At the beginning of June I was able to get off the pain pills completely, as all pain went away. Since early June I have been doing hard labor putting in water lines at my home been on a few serious hikes and even went for a jog yesterday.

The long and the short of it is I believe and am comfortable saying that without the exercise I would be still be miserable and traveling downhill. The only supplement I am taking is Beta Glucan.

I also recognize that I am lucky and blessed to go into this ordeal physically fit as it would likely be overwhelming to begin an exercise program at this point.

If you know of others who are having as easy a time of it as I? Or if someone needs encouragement they are more than welcome to contact me. If so I would appreciate if you passed on my info.

Thank you

Bo Bennett



8/5/04 UPDATE

I wanted to pass on some info. I had a pet scan on 8/4, the lung tumor is slowing up considerably, the mets to my arm, and hip have a “complete resolution”. The activity, in the mediastinal area “is no longer demonstrated. The lesion of the right ileal has complete resolution. And there is no evidence of metastatic disease to the abdomen, nothing in my right orbital and normal normal normal in my inerds. Havn’t talked to my doctor yet and he may yet say, “well its not necessarily great news, hah what does he know.

I hope this doesn’t come off sounding too arrogant but I am a guy that looks at things straight in the face and I don’t know any other way to present it

The info I really want to pass is what I think helped me go on the fast track. Other than luck, being blessed and having a lot of folks praying for me I made a lot of changes in my life. At 53 I am finally following the advice of my kindergarten teacher and am eating lots of fruits and vegetables, never ate them before. Bologna was my idea of a good meal. I am no longer eating or drinking anything that is processed, as best as possible all natural food, and very little meat. I no longer drink cup after cup of coffee, only maybe one cup in the am. I drink lots of water, no chlorinated water only spring or from a well. I exercise daily, and as hard as it was at my lowest point, I forced myself to do what I could. I take one supplement that has been shown to kick start the immune system. Early on I made the connection between a healthy immune system and fighting the cancer and my goal was to build it in any way I could. That included resting, not to confuse exercise with not resting. If I became tired in the least in my day to day I stopped and let my body catch up.

My, our, worlds have changed forever, and in order to survive we must accept that we can not remain with our old habits. Most importantly we do have control, most importantly if we don’t we need to find it. We can help dictate our fate.

After three months of non stop reading to learn about this cancer stuff, my conclusion is cancer is not the cause, it is a symptom of a body, (immune system) that somehow got out of whack. We have been programmed to accept that once we get the cancer it is a forgone conclusion that we have no control over our fate and that modern medicine is our best and only hope. I call “bull shit”, we have other options. Though I will concede that the chemo most likely helped backed up the cancer.

I recognize that there is often this kind of remission following initial treatment, only to come back with a vengeance at a later date. So, since I was blessed with the ability to help control my fate, I will take this wonderful opportunity to increase my vigilant response to getting cancer.

The fight is on

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and getting the same response

Bo Age 53 April 7, 04 DX stage IV NSCLC 3.7 cm right lung. Met, TM. left humerous, right hip,- right orbital? April 28 04 start chemo, Carboplatin, Gemzar, Zometa\ June 3,04 Off pain pills, all pain left April 4 04 New scans show stage IV is not holding up very well, things are lookin good.

1/26/05 Update,

Most all is the same in that I continue to fight in the same manor, exercise, diet and learning about the disease of Lung Cancer. Scans in Nov. showed a slight progression, scans in Jan. removed the progression and some of the original tumor as well as much of the lymph problems. I still have cancer but I am winning the war and I am healthy while I fight.

It is interesting to note that Ann choose no conventional treatment and is doing well, where as I went with traditional treatment and I am doing well. The similarities to our winning this battle, however, are there.

As many of us do when we choose to fight this disease we announce our fight through publicity of sorts. Sharing what we feel helps is part of the fight http://www.cancerrehabilitation.com/

To all those who have a need to fight Keep up the fight and good luck with your fight.


Age 53 smoked for 17 years, quit 18 years ago

4/7/ 04 DX stage IV NSCLC

3.7 cm right lung.

Met, TM. left humorous, right hip,- right orbital?

4/28/04 start chemo,

Carboplatin, Gemzar, Zometa\

6/3/04 Off pain pills, all pain left

84/04 New scans show stage IV is not holding up very well, things are lookin good. Bone mets have left and new bone has grew in place.

11/1/04, new scan. Primary increased to 4.5cm, and new subcarinal node problem, bone mets are too scared to get back in the fight

Starting Taxol

1/18/05, new scan. Slight overall shrinkage. No evidence of Mediastinal Lymphadenopathy as shown in earlier scans, annnnd nothing new.

5/2/05 Update For those who are just beginning treatment. Learn all you can, not only does it make the journey easier, it can put you on the best path possible.

Bo's online Book

LINK - preview of his book

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