Are You Rushing Your Body to Heal?

Started by Leida, May 27, 2015
14 replies for this topic
Leida

Member
558 Posts
Posted on
May 27, 2015
We were a small support group of women sitting around a table when she came into the room.

She didn’t even make it to a chair before she shared her distress with her doctor, who had "finally" cleared her for physical activity after her mastectomy.

As an exercise instructor, she had been crazed by weeks of inactivity and weight gain. As soon as she was able to exercise, she threw herself back into it with a vengeance. Now she was in a lot of pain, angry with her doctor and afraid she would never be able to return to exercising.

We’d never met before, but it seemed obvious she had the drive to return to her passion.

What she wasn’t able to do was give her body the time it needed to heal.

It turned out that we had the same problem. When I couldn’t stand upright after my mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, it was easy to sit still. But, as time went on, I also tended to push my body harder than was prudent.

One lovely spring day, I snuck outside after my husband left for work to pot a few plants. Somehow, I gingerly carried the pots and potting soil out of the garage, and was feeling happily productive when his car suddenly rolled into the driveway.

He got out of the car and told me to step away from the plants. I argued that it wasn’t a big deal, but we both knew he was right.

He was right, but I didn't learn my lesson. My doctor cleared me weeks later and we joined a gym. I took a Pilates class and was lying on my mat when the instructor told us to lift our feet off the floor. To my shock, my feet wouldn’t budge.  

Of course, my body was still recuperating from a TRAM flap abdominal surgery, so this very minor, temporary disability shouldn’t have come as a shock. But, all I felt was grief at another cancer loss and all I wanted to do was run out of the room to to hide my tears.

Things got better when I told my therapist about the Pilates incident and she steered me to a rehabilitative exercise course offered at my cancer center.  The instructor, also a breast cancer survivor, stressed honoring what our bodies had been through and taught us gentle, restorative exercises to build us up without causing further injury.

Finding yoga also taught me to appreciate my body’s abilities as they exist in the moment, restoring a sense of confidence and patience. I’m still doing yoga today and am grateful for the healing energy it brings into my life.

Are you fighting your body’s limitations? Do you find it hard to give your body the time it needs to recover after cancer treatments? Let’s talk about it in the CURE discussion group.
  
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Debbie Woodbury

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
May 27, 2015
We were a small support group of women sitting around a table when she came into the room.

She didn’t even make it to a chair before she shared her distress with her doctor, who had "finally" cleared her for physical activity after her mastectomy.

As an exercise instructor, she had been crazed by weeks of inactivity and weight gain. As soon as she was able to exercise, she threw herself back into it with a vengeance. Now she was in a lot of pain, angry with her doctor and afraid she would never be able to return to exercising.

We’d never met before, but it seemed obvious she had the drive to return to her passion.

What she wasn’t able to do was give her body the time it needed to heal.

It turned out that we had the same problem. When I couldn’t stand upright after my mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, it was easy to sit still. But, as time went on, I also tended to push my body harder than was prudent.

One lovely spring day, I snuck outside after my husband left for work to pot a few plants. Somehow, I gingerly carried the pots and potting soil out of the garage, and was feeling happily productive when his car suddenly rolled into the driveway.

He got out of the car and told me to step away from the plants. I argued that it wasn’t a big deal, but we both knew he was right.

He was right, but I didn't learn my lesson. My doctor cleared me weeks later and we joined a gym. I took a Pilates class and was lying on my mat when the instructor told us to lift our feet off the floor. To my shock, my feet wouldn’t budge.  

Of course, my body was still recuperating from a TRAM flap abdominal surgery, so this very minor, temporary disability shouldn’t have come as a shock. But, all I felt was grief at another cancer loss and all I wanted to do was run out of the room to to hide my tears.

Things got better when I told my therapist about the Pilates incident and she steered me to a rehabilitative exercise course offered at my cancer center.  The instructor, also a breast cancer survivor, stressed honoring what our bodies had been through and taught us gentle, restorative exercises to build us up without causing further injury.

Finding yoga also taught me to appreciate my body’s abilities as they exist in the moment, restoring a sense of confidence and patience. I’m still doing yoga today and am grateful for the healing energy it brings into my life.

Are you fighting your body’s limitations? Do you find it hard to give your body the time it needs to recover after cancer treatments? Let’s talk about it in the CURE discussion group.
  
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Deanna

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
May 27, 2015
I struggle everyday with my limitations. I was training for a marathon when I got sick in Oct 2013. During my first treatment I was able to still run some and completed a 5k with my children in Nov 2014 to celabrate the end of treatment. I relapsed within a month and will now have an auto stem cell transplant in June. I still push myself more than I should. I hide my extra activity from my husband. On those days he can tell. I practice control and am beginning to listen to my body more. I have no patience and make an effort to be a better listener daily.
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BarbaraTako

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
May 27, 2015
Wow. Awesome points, Debbie. Thank you for bringing this up and creating a discussion. I am five years out from breast cancer and still struggle with fatigue. I don't have the same body I had before cancer. I hope your article helps give us, as women, permission to give our bodies the time they need to heal. Thank you!!
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Debbie Woodbury

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
May 27, 2015
Thank you Deanne for letting me know I'm not the only one to try to hide these things from my husband. It's so hard to be patient when we want so desperately to be as active as we once were. Good luck with your auto stem cell transplant in June. I hope you can find the patience to listen to your body and give it the time it needs to heal. Be kind to you; you're very important (especially to your loved ones!)
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Debbie Woodbury

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
May 27, 2015
Thank you for raising an important point, Barbara Tako. I think a lot of us women have a hard time standing down and letting someone else take care of things. I still find it hard to relax and often push myself well beyond the point that I should. Maybe if we stopped to recognize the signs of fatigue before it overwhelmed us, we'd actually heal quicker. I'm willing to give it a try. How about you?
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BenTheMan

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
June 02, 2015
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Barbara!
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Robin

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
June 07, 2015
I am so glad I found this discussion! I am frustrated by mixed and vague advice from my medical team regarding how much exercise to do. Like others I am impatient to get "back to normal". I am five weeks post mastectomy and cleared to swim, my regular exercise for the last three years. But my chest wall feels like there is a huge adhesive band around it and after the stretching exercises things are very tight and hard. I would call it painful, but certainly uncomfortable. The advice of the medical assistant was to "be the judge of what was too much". I'm just not sure how to judge. What is the happy balance between letting myself have time to heal and letting things seize up? Is this tight feeling normal?
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Debbie Woodbury

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
June 07, 2015
Hi Robin. I'm glad you found this discussion too! When I was five weeks after my mastectomy I continued to have discomfort too. The best advice I can give you about finding the happy balance is what I've learned from yoga. Take time to listen to your body and be where you are today. This isn't a competition, even with yourself. Nothing should ever hurt. Be kind to yourself and take your time; you'll get there. Also, as to finding things "tight and hard" consider seeing a massage therapist. I had the same problem in my abdomen after a TRAM flap reconstruction due to scar tissue and rehabilitative massage worked wonders for me. Good luck and take good care of yourself
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Babs and Bob

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
June 08, 2015
After my cancerous tumor was removed from my rectum (as well as my rectum) and replaced with my life-long companion Bob (my ostomy), I waited a mere 2 weeks after I got home from the hospital before I went to the store to get my home night aide's favorite soda. Carrying it into my building, I was reprimanded by a few people that I should not be carrying anything so heavy, much less driving to the store (something I had not asked my surgeon permission to do). I am paying for my need to "get back to normal" by now having hernias, for which I will need to have them operated on, sooner than later. I realize, now, that there is a new 'normal' for me and that I need to respect my body for the trauma it went through. I refer to my cancer situation, both months before surgery and now, 6 years after surgery, as my joyful journey. But I realize that my body did not, then, share the same joy that my heart and spirit has felt, and need to be more patient with it.
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Dr Shani

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
June 08, 2015
Important point you make here, Debbie. The concept of convalescence has been all but lost in Western medicine; yet common sense would tell us that a stage of convalescence is to be expected after any of today's standard cancer treatments. As doctors, we should be anticipating this and providing a recovery program to everyone who has completed treatment. Dismissing survivors who come in with post-treatment issues with platitudes like "it just takes time" is neglectful when recovery cries out to be supported with targeted nutrition, resolving root causes of any sleep disturbance, an appropriate physical movement regimen and stress-management help, as needed. Survivors can do their part by honoring, not pushing through or against, their bodies' signals. Taking the time to find out what your body needs when it expresses itself through symptoms (eg, weakness, pain, fatigue), and providing for those needs before hurrying out to serve the rest of the world, pays off handsomely in the long run in renewed vitality and resilience. A word about post-cancer fatigue: post-cancer fatigue may be due to more than just insufficient rest. Additional contributing factors range from stress to inflammation to impaired mitochondrial function, and these factors are associated with higher rates of recurrence. If your fatigue isn't notably improving over time, please don't write it off to "a new normal". Seek expert support to identify and resolve the root cause. Warm regards, Shani Fox, ND www.drshanifox.com
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