Andy Rochester: The big surprise was that in my desire to exercise and so forth, I got carried away. I actually was on an endorphin high. After I had done my swimming and I had done my treadmill, 15 degrees, 5 miles an hour for 5 miles. And I was doing the elliptical next, and I was looking at this recumbent bike in front of me, and I should probably do that today too. Again, I was high on endorphins.
So, I did the recumbent bike. Big surprise. That night, hematuria. I had exercised so hard that I actually injured myself. So I came down to MSK [Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center] urgent care the next day and that’s when I got to meet the urology department. And they came into visit me, the resident and Dr. Jaspreet Sandhu M.D.. And the interesting thing that they said to me I think is very telling. I gave them the story, and they said well, I was really exercising very hard because it’s an important part of my treatment.
And they said, “We wish everyone would do that. People really need to exercise.” And so subsequently they healed me of my ailment. So I got over that. But again, I never realized the side effects that endorphins can have on you. That probably was the biggest surprise because here you are, and I’m trying to do the right thing and the right duration and everything, and you can actually get carried away, so you have to be careful.
Susan F. Slovin, M.D., Ph.D.: We started to touch upon your support system.
Andy Rochester: That is huge. That’s the third part of this. I mentioned that I had a really high empathetic part of my being, and it was very helpful when I was in medicine because I read people from a distance. Some people are more in tune with others, and for whatever reason, I read people at a distance. So that’s very helpful. But I never thought it would work in reverse. And what I found is that my co-workers at Corning, and my IT [information technology] group, and all of a sudden I have my family at HealthWorks; I’ve got three places where I go to work out.
Now remember they pay you your cost of health care if you get your 80 visits in. I would be there Christmas week trying to get my 80th visit in. So last year I stopped counting after 750 visits. So I get to know these people very well. They’re family, they give me this emotional support. The people in my band, music is extremely important too. Music, they’ll say music heals the soul, and I’ll add to that and say, it heals the body too. Music is very important.
The first thing I put on my bucket list was to go see one of the top clarinetists in the world, this fellow named Martin Frost. We’re going to see him again shortly. So the support comes from things like music. It comes from medication. Even if you just get started using an app called Calm that you can put on your phone, it will help you get into some of these things. But it’s the people that make the difference. The people that just give you the thumbs up. People knocking on the window saying, “Home? Why are you still working here? Why are you not, aren’t you supposed to be swimming now?”
And so people stop you in the hallway. It’s all of this incoming positive emotion. And it’s what we do at the gym, we do it for each other. That’s why when I speak about exercise to groups I’ll say, “You know it’s really great that you have a gym at home. But you know what, you need to be in a gym with other people because you push each other.” And that’s emotionally what happens to me. The biggest support thing is, and I’ll tell you, I’m in the middle of swimming 300 laps. You’re 200 laps out there, I’m 3 miles along the way. You get tired, and then all of a sudden my brain starts seeing some of these things, remembering people, and then, snap, I just knocked off another hundred laps. So people are probably one of the biggest things here.
Transcript Edited for Clarity