I’ve got a secret. It’s time to open up and tell the truth.

For the past many months, I’ve been dealing with a serious shoulder injury. Without falling or doing anything that I can remember to hurt it, I ended up with a shoulder trifecta: frozen shoulder, small rotator cuff tear, and arthritis.

Why was I hiding this? Because I’m a professional violist and a personal trainer. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that in a very competitive field, perception matters. Even though I was able to play everything I was hired to play (I just didn’t feel great doing it), I was afraid that if people knew I had shoulder pain, they would choose not to hire me. I learned that when I was in cancer treatment. No matter how much I told people I was working, and only accepted work I was confident I could manage, some people stopped hiring me. I know there was nothing mean-spirited about this, most just had my well-being in mind, but still, I lost work. (There were others who stuck with me, in spite of my bald head, and I am eternally grateful to them!!!) So I’ve learned that perceived weakness can be detrimental to my bank account. And on the fitness trainer side, who really wants a trainer who can’t demonstrate exercises. Besides, I’m not the type of trainer to just tell people what to do and stand by, I do the exercises right alongside.

It started bothering me last winter. I kept working to stretch and keep it moving. I got a lot of massage and acupuncture, worked with an Alexander Technique teacher. Those things kept me functional, but not improving. Finally after several months, I decided it was time to see the doctor since it was clearly not something I could fix myself. Plus, since I was having pain in my collar bone and shoulder on the side I had breast cancer, I started to worry that it could be cancer metastasizing the bones.

Lots of scans and blood work led to an all-clear on the cancer, just routine shoulder issues. Even though it was severely impacting my life, frozen shoulder was a fixable thing. I’m sure my orthopedist has never had someone so happy to be told they have a frozen shoulder!

This is why I haven’t been as active as normal. No climbing. No ultramarathons. In fact, I’ve had difficulty running more than a few miles at a time because running irritates my shoulder.

But I haven’t been doing nothing. I’ve been working very hard on my shoulder. It’s getting a whole lot better. I’ve got good range of motion again, and now am working on rebuilding strength.

Frozen shoulder is a pretty common problem after breast cancer surgery/treatments. I didn’t have that trouble after my mastectomy, but because of my surgery, I knew early on some of the stretches and exercises to do. I started out doing a lot of wall climbs: standing next to a wall and slowing crawling my hand up the wall. It seems like such an easy thing to do, but can be such a challenge. At the beginning, I couldn’t get my hand much above eye level. But I kept working it, every day. The other thing was hanging arm pendulum and circles. Bend over from waist, lean on a chair or table for balance. Let arm hang straight down from shoulder. Gently swing it up and back, like a pendulum. I would do this many times a day, up and back, also side to side. Then gently swing arm in small circles. This helps to get a little movement into the shoulder joint in a non-stressful way.

But that wasn’t enough. When I got back from playing opera in Saratoga, I started physical therapy. I went for my assessment and when the PT heard that I did some work at a fitness trainer with cancer survivors, she said, “Oh, then you probably don’t need us at all, you know most of this.” I laughed and said, “Yes, but you know more.” Of course I know how to work range of motion, then build up gradually, beginning with no weight. But I also know the value of working with someone who knows more than I do, and someone who can check my progress.

For the last couple of months, I’ve been working on improving my range of motion through gentle movements. Slowly, once I had better range of motion, I started building strength, beginning with movements with no weight. Over weeks, I increased the number of repetitions of all the exercises. A few weeks ago, I started adding very light weights. When I would add weight to an exercise, I would drop the repetitions down, and gradually increase again.

I think tomorrow will probably be my last day for PT – I graduate. It’s still a long process to build my strength back to normal, but I am functional. And physical therapists – good ones – are totally my heroes!

Whether the result of surgery, illness, or injury, recovery from a serious issue is not fun. It’s difficult and frustrating. The exercises are hard and can be painful, even as they seem so stupidly easy. It’s easy to get frustrated…”I can’t believe I’m struggling to raise my arm to shoulder height, I used to climb cliffs!!” And there are days that it just doesn’t feel good. It’s so tempting to say, “it hurts, I don’t want to do this.” But I knew that was the only way to get better, that the short-term discomfort was the path to long-term functioning. And that was the only way I was getting back to a normal functional life.

Step by teeny, tiny step. It’s not perfect, but it’s the only way forward.

And again, hurray for physical therapists!



Posted in breast cancer, breast surgery, range of motion, recovery from surgery, rehab | Tagged | Leave a comment

Shooting for the Moon

Yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden announced progress and commitments for the Cancer Moonshot (which had been announced as a priority by President Obama in the 2016 State of the Union address). There’s a lot to be excited about, and a lot of hard work to be done.

The initiative is spurring unprecedented collaboration: between public and private sectors, between government agencies, between research disciplines. They’re connecting longtime researchers with new, with resources and researchers worldwide, with private companies, with government agencies. It involves the Department of Defense, the Institutes of Health, oncologists, virologists, geneticists, techies and web diseigners, even drivers.

Among those involved, there are the usual suspects: the National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society and other cancer non-profits, hospitals and research universities. There are also commitments from private sector companies. Bristol-Meyer Squibb is committing to a large initiative to alleviate inequalities in cancer detection and care. Lyft and Uber have both committed to expanding their efforts to provide transportation for cancer patients. And government agencies are involved: the Department of Defense is working to digitize its vast repository of pathology samples, making the information contained in them easily available to researchers. And the National Endowment for the Arts is developing a pilot program for using therapeutic arts programs to improve the lives of cancer patients, based on successful programs developed for military veterans.

Other highlights are a huge longitudinal study by the DoD to improve our understanding of biological underpinnings of cancer. They have around 250,000 samples saved from the past 25 years which can be analyzed for pre-diagnostic biological markers. And of particular interest to me as a breast cancer survivor, is a commitment from METAvivor for research grants into metastatic breast cancer.

These are just a few of the actions being taken. Please visit for a lot more information on what’s happening.

And finally, for this re-focus on research and collaboration, for making this a priority, thank you President Obama, and thank you Vice President Biden!


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Looking for Light

Earlier today on Twitter, I was told that, because I had breast cancer, and because my breast cancer treatments rendered me unable to have a child, I am “half of a woman” by a man who is a Trump supporter. He added, “Deal with it.” This was in response to a comment I made on an article about parental leave.

Before this post goes any further, I will point out that this is not a political blog. This blog is about fitness, and inspiration, and cancer. The only times I’ve posted about anything political was about the healthcare debate, and that was from my perspective as someone who had cancer and does not have employer-paid insurance.

Do not use this post to start a rant – on either side.

But I’m posting this now because, quite frankly, I was stunned. And absolutely cut to the quick. So, how to unpack this?

First, I have always been open about my cancer experience – the good, the bad, the ugly. From the beginning, the day of diagnosis, I’ve told people the truth. Maybe just because, as a young healthy woman, it was such a shock that I didn’t even think to hide the truth. But my response was always to try to make the most of whatever I had – try to feel as good as possible, to get strong, to stay active, to have fun. And when I didn’t die, I wanted to do something useful. I wanted to help others. I got certified as a fitness trainer to work with other cancer survivors. To help other people feel as good as possible. To encourage others to stay involved with their bodies in a positive way.

Second, I don’t hide my personal opinions. I generally keep them to my personal pages, keep them off of this site. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I do believe it’s possible – and necessary – to have discussions with people who have other opinions. But I do expect that the discussions remain civil – about ideas and facts – not hurtful. The only people I have blocked on FB or Twitter are people who refused to not be mean and personal. I do not block people just because they disagree with me. At some point, I disagree with pretty much everyone about something. But I try to stick to facts, try to not get personal or mean. I’m sure I don’t always succeed, but that’s my goal.

Third, although body image is a BIG issue for a lot of people with cancer, and especially breast cancer, I generally have a pretty good sense of my body. My self image has always been tied more to what I could do rather than how I looked. (OK, not always, I had to work at it for a long time.) But as long as I was strong and could do the things I enjoyed, I felt pretty good – even with only one breast.

But this year, this election cycle, has been tough for a lot of folks. There’s a HUGE amount of discussion of women’s worth as tied to breast size, attractiveness, and size in the public discourse. It’s a constant barrage.

And then I tweeted something about how it felt to hear that a woman’s most important job was as mother, with the implication that the rest of us are somehow less important. And I was told that I really was just half of a woman – only one breast, no children – just deal with it.

All the things that people say – consider the source, don’t stoop to their level, hold your head high – couldn’t take away the sting. While I know that what he wrote is not true, it brought back memories of looking with confusion at my reflection in the mirror because I didn’t recognize my body, of struggling to lift my arm or open a door, of bursting into tears after attending the birthday party of a friend’s child or seeing proud videos posted of recitals because I would never have that for my own.

I cried. I actually cried over a tweet. A Trump supporter made me cry.

I tried to think of the worst thing I could respond with. And then I saw a tweet by Senator Cory Booker, and I borrowed his words instead:  May we both encourage and elevate more than we tear others down.

So why am I writing about this? Because maybe I want to try to change things. Because I guess my response is the same as it was to cancer – to try to make things better. I can’t change a very angry man. But I can take inspiration from a senator and change how I respond. I can choose to not add to the angry rhetoric. I can focus on making the world around me a bit better. I can continue to help others be a little bit healthier, and maybe provide a little motivation along the way. I can continue writing, playing music, putting some good out into the world.

Therefore, I went out into the woods for a walk – to clear my head and to make a choice for health. Instead of sinking into a very dark place, I went walking in the woods, looking for light.

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Now, I have to go practice, so that tomorrow I’ll be prepared to put some music in the air. The next day I’ll work with some fitness clients (and work on my own fitness). I’ll write, always striving to tell the truth, hopefully in an entertaining and uplifting way. And I’ll run and hike and always look for the light.

Be good to each other.


Posted in breast cancer, cancer treatment, exercise and cancer, inspiration, twitter, walking | 2 Comments

A Good Day

I’m on vacation, and blissfully mostly offline (hence no Life-Cise Daily Tips coming in email inboxes). I’m reading and writing, swimming, running, and biking every day, plus making pies and watching sunsets. Every day is a good day.

But last Sunday stood out. I wandered down to the beach with my coffee in hand to watch a 2-mile swim race. Swimmers swam out into the bay, around a buoy, and back. They had perfect weather for it. I didn’t see the leaders swim – they had already finished – but that’s just as well. I always love seeing the “average” athletes (although anyone who swims a 2-mile race is pretty far above average, IMHO), those swimming or running in the mid to back of the pack. Maybe that’s just because that’s where I run.

But what struck me as I watched was how each one – young, old, fat, skinny – stood up when they reached the beach and smiled and raised their hands or clenched a fist in triumph. They weren’t winning, the winners were long gone. But they finished. They did what they set out to do, what they had trained for, what they had spent countless hours working toward.

Because any endurance event like that, whether running/swimming/biking/skiing/anything, takes work. Someone can go out and run a mile or 5K without much preparation. But endurance races take planning, preparation, hours and hours of working at it. No one is going to swim 2 miles or run 50 by working out for a week or so. They all know it’s a longterm goal. That progress is made in weeks, months, and years. That they’re not going to “get it right” in a day. That it’s a constant effort – much in the same way anyone going through rehab after injury or illness knows that it’s an ongoing effort.

So, no matter how long it takes, finishing a long race feels like success. Because it is. So the person crossing the line last is just as happy as the first. Because all the hours paid off. So three cheers to all who finished, and to all who are trying.

And then I went back to make breakfast. A little later in the morning, after all the racers had cleared off, a bald eagle landed at the beach. My day also included my own swim, a nice conversation with two women at the beach about the books of Karl Ove Knausgaard (an author whose writing I love), and one of the best trail runs I’ve had all summer….All in all, a good day – for me and everyone who got out and got some exercise. Because fitness and health are not what happens for a day.

Did I mention there was a bald eagle?

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Get out and enjoy the world. Make you own good day.


I don’t want to give the impression that I only find extreme accomplishments praise-worthy. Quite the contrary. What I love about the back-of-the-pack swimmers and runners is their very ordinariness. They’re regular folks who worked toward a goal, who worked through a process. But anyone who sticks to the process for any goal is equally praise-worthy. I have run ultramarathons. I have also struggled to get out of a chair and walk across the room on my own. I know what it’s like to walk to the end of my driveway and cry, both because it was so bloody difficult, and because I was so proud of my accomplishment. I know what it’s like to finally raise my arm above my head and pump my fist and say, “Yes!!”

So, just to be clear, whatever you’re struggling to do, stick with it, be diligent, and be proud of the work you’re doing!


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Stability, not the mental kind

A couple weeks ago, I was down in Texas for Beloved Eldest Niece’s wedding. OK, Texas in August is HOT. Seriously.

So, needing some exercise to break that sluggish, post-travel-day slump, I got up early to run along the riverwalk (Waco). I saw lots of other like-minded folks out walking, cycling, running – because early is the only sane time to do that when the day will top out in triple digits. (I did see a couple of people running on lunch breaks. They were loaded with water bottles and hydration packs, enough to run an ultramarathon. But they were probably only running a couple miles – it was HOT! What is that saying…”mad dogs and Englishmen…”?)

I also worked in time to workout with my favorite clients – my parents. Lots of you know my parents from this blog, especially my mom. (you can read about Mom’s quest to be the pushup queen here )

They’re both in very good shape because they are great about exercising regularly. But they’ve both had some health issues in the last year or two, so I wanted to check in on their routines – make some adjustments and add some new things into the mix to keep their exercise routines from becoming too “routine.” With recent hip and eye surgeries, I wanted to add stability work.

Some changes were just modifying exercises they’ve been doing. For instance, instead of lunges forward, I had them do lunges on the diagonal, stepping out at a 45 degree angle instead of straight forward. This works the stabilizer muscles – abductors and adductors – a little more. Also, they don’t do deep lunges any more. They step and dip down only as far as is comfortable and stable for them.

I also took the post-hip surgery exercises for strengthening abductors and turned it into an upright, moving exercise. Originally, it was extending the leg out to the side, which can be done lying flat on the back or seated. Mom has modified it to a lift, lying on her side. I just took that exercise and changed it into a moving exercise for both of them because I want everything to relate to movement and making sure they are strong and stable as they move through their day.

So I had them stand facing a wall (for stability if they get off balance), then walk sideways: step, together, step, together. Next, I had them (still facing the wall, even touching it lightly for stability) walk sideways doing “grapevines” – cross over step, step, cross behind. These are both great exercises to help with balance and agility. They’re the same exercises I do for running, slowed way down, but still working the same muscles.

As my parents get older, I want to make sure they retain good stability and mobility. It’s so important for their health, their independence,  and for their peace of mind. But this focus on stability is important for all of us, at any age, especially anyone who has been injured or been weakened by illness or surgery. These are some of the same exercises I’ve done after my long surgeries and recoveries to get myself back on solid ground.


Posted in balance, modification, mom, older adults, stability | Leave a comment


It’s amazing how 80 degrees can feel almost chilly. Honestly, I don’t know how southerners do it.

We’ve finally had a bit of a break in the “heat dome.” But it’s still wicked humid. I don’t do well in heat, and I really don’t do well in humidity! I am the sweatiest person on the planet – this is a fact, just ask my brother who, when crewing for me on races, has been heard saying, “Eeew, you squish, every step you squish, gross!!” as I squish out a puddle of sweat with each step.

I’m having a particularly hard time because I haven’t really had a chance to adjust to it. Our bodies do acclimate to temperature changes, but it takes time. We had a strangely cool spring, and then I spent a month upstate where it’s a lot cooler, even on the hottest days. So I’m still getting used to it. Normally by this point in the summer, I’d be used to doing long runs and racing in the heat.

And so, I continue to take it easy. Each day, I plan on building up mileage or speed, but change my plans when I step out into the sauna. That’s the only safe thing anyone can do. Heat and humid conditions can be dangerous, especially if you’re de-conditioned, have any number of medical conditions, or recovering from illness or injury. But that doesn’t mean don’t exercise. Just be reasonable.

Last weekend, I was up early to go meet friends for breakfast. I saw 5 different people out walking (I almost never see anyone out walking where I live) at 8am – before the heat. Go slower or not as long – your body has to work harder in the heat, so don’t push it as much. Stay hydrated. Stay in the shade – the other advantage of 8am is the sun is not directly overhead. And take a break if you need. On the hottest days, even if I’m only running a couple of miles, if I’m getting overheated, I slow up or walk. Or stop to try to get a picture of a Great Blue Heron at the Girl Scout camp.

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The point is, you don’t have to let the heat stop you. But you can make sensible choices in the heat.


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I did not go for a run yesterday. Instead, I decided to beat the heat by spending the hot afternoon hours at the Met Museum. Interestingly, when I looked at my little activity app on my phone, I discovered I had walked about 3 miles. (That’s partly because I hate to pay for parking, so I found street parking several blocks away. And because, well, the Met is a BIG museum.)

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Much of the country is under a massive heat dome, as they’re calling it. What that means is it’s hot. Really hot. And humid.

I always prefer to exercise outdoors if I can, and I exercise in pretty much any weather: frigid temps, snow, rain, wind. But I have more trouble with heat and humidity. So I’m a little more cautious in weather like this.

But everyone should be. It doesn’t mean don’t exercise. It just means be cautious. Consider changing activities to something indoors: get on a treadmill or stationary bike in an air-conditioned gym or house, swim, walk somewhere cool. If you do exercise outdoors, make the necessary adjustments. Carry plenty of water with you, stay in the shade as much as possible, go out in the early morning before it’s too hot. Slow down – your body has to work much harder in the heat, so slow down. Or go to a museum.

And remember, for health benefits, it’s the total amount of activity that counts, not just exercise done in one shot.

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A lot of my Met visit was spent in the excellent exhibit on the art the Seljuqs, 11th to 13th century Iran. It closes this weekend, but if you’re in NY, go see it.


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So, Did You Win?

“Did you win?” That’s a common question runners and cyclists get from non-runners and non-cyclists when we say we have a race. Of course, the vast majority of us who are racing are not, or will never be, the winners. But there are so many reasons for racing.

This morning I ran the Saratoga Firecracker 4 – four miles to celebrate the 4th of July. I’ve run this race most years when I’m up here playing with Opera Saratoga. It’s a fun, community event which helps support some good local programs (like local track teams and an outdoor sports program for disabled folks).

But I haven’t been racing. It’s been almost a year since my last race. In fact, for a variety of reasons, I haven’t been running all that much this past year. All that didn’t matter, I decided. I didn’t care about my time, didn’t care about my lack of consistent training. Like I said, there are a lot of reasons for racing. So, a couple days ago, I signed up. (I REALLY didn’t want to get up this morning, did not want to race, but I had already paid my money, so I went – that was part of the reason I signed up before, knowing I might change my mind if I waited to register the day of.)

As I was jogging to the start, I was wondering why I was doing this. But then I got close enough that I started seeing all the other runners walking and running in, warming up, pinning on numbers, adjusting clothes. I saw the families who were coming out to cheer on husbands/wives/kids/grandparents. I heard the music blaring. And I remembered why.IMG_2194

Everyone was out for their own reasons. There were some really fast kids (I think the local schools must have some really good track coaches – I’m always impressed). There were teams. There were moms and dads, some running with kids who were running their first race, some pushing strollers. I ran for a while with a new mother, pushing her baby girl. It was her first race since giving birth (and also first race since breaking her ankle while pregnant). She didn’t care about her time, she was just happy to be out. Another mom was pushing a newborn with an impressive scream. Lots of parents or brothers and sisters were pushing disabled sons/daughters/brothers/sisters. There were people dressed in all the latest hi-tech gear. Others in old shoes and cotton T-shirt. One guy was rocking an old pair of Converse canvas basketball shoes – you know, the high-top ones. Some people ran for their best times. Others walked. I just wanted to feel that race feeling again. In some ways it’s been a tough year, so I just wanted to run, and to know that it was a manageable distance, and that I had to finish, and that I could.

So I ran. It was fun. I ran about 2 1/2 minutes slower than last year. But I didn’t care. Everyone was happy. Strangers encouraged each other. And that was why I raced. These are my people, my tribe, everyone just happy to be out. I’m sure someone won, probably impressively fast. But that’s not why we ran.

IMG_2195  Happy 4th of July!


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Happy Father’s Day!

In advance of Father’s Day here in the U.S., I’d like to share a few pictures from my recent vacation with my parents. We took two weeks, went to Madrid (where they first lived as a young newly-married couple), and then a river cruise in Bordeaux. Fabulous trip, so thrilled that I took the time to travel with them!!DSC_0073DSC_0441







But they’ve both had some health issues over the past year which affected their mobility. In fact, because of an eye surgery, we weren’t sure until two days before the trip whether we’d be able to go. So, besides wanting to spend time with them, I wanted to be there to make sure they were OK and help out when I could.

This was an active vacation: covering a lot of ground in Madrid, and daily shore trips on the cruise which involved lots of walking, usually on old cobblestone streets and through vineyards. I brought along a pair of lightweight hiking poles for my dad to use. And we walked. We walked slowly on very uneven ground, walked quicker on easy ground. We walked up and down steep medieval streets. We took rests after climbing stairs or hills if necessary. And I talked with them both about exercises to improve stability – working on lateral movements and balance (want to keep them stable).

There’s often so much emphasis in the media on super intense workouts. Way too often, people think the only exercise that matters is something that hurts, and if they can’t do that, then it doesn’t count. But it all depends on your situation. What’s adequate depends on your goals, your condition, your health. It’s always completely individual.

We all got a lot of exercise on the trip, but it was moderate. We walked. In some of the ports, I ran – nothing major, just a nice run along the river. And in doing so, despite great (and ample) food and drink, we all came home exactly the same weight as when we left (not that weight is the most important measure of fitness!). The key is, doing activity that is appropriate, and doing it consistently. That’s what’s necessary for longterm health.

So Happy Father’s Day! If you can, go for a walk with your dad. Anywhere, not just on a European vacation. It’s totally worth it – for both of you.

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And in the midst of a fabulous trip, probably my favorite moment was watching my dad ask my mom to dance – he’s still got some moves!



Posted in exercise while traveling, Father's Day, healthy lifestyle, thankful, Travel, walking | 1 Comment


Kate is hair and clothes flowing, delicate voice, searching through bags filled with tissues, snacks, books, water, pens. She is ethereal, not quite of this world. She is reading poetry, surprising me with her voice. She is in my line of vision as I look up from my music, her face glowing under stage lights, as the final Amen of Handel’s Messiah rises.

Next to her, I am earth-bound and solid. I am laughing as we talk about Beowulf and the art (and science) of linguistics. I am spellbound by her voice reading poetry. I am thrilled beyond measure when she introduces me to a group of poets, “not a poet, but a beautifully poetic writer of prose.” I am heartbroken and in disbelief that she could no longer exist in this world.

This was what I posted on FB last week upon hearing of Kate’s death from breast cancer. And to that, I add other names from the last days and weeks.

Madonna, the beautiful Madonna. She was quiet grace, always gentle, always moving forward as we climbed Kilimanjaro. She was sharing a beer with her husband, tired but satisfied, smiling in my pictures. That is how I think of her, smiling. Next to her, I am coarse. I wish I had known her better, or at least longer. Madonna died of breast cancer three weeks ago.

Jody is light and strength. She is precise, she is articulate. She is advocate, she is leader. Jody is one of the founders of #BCSM – an online breast cancer community – tirelessly working to create something of value, and she has. She has just entered hospice care.

And so, I will launch into one of my periodic rants (rages). Here’s the thing about breast cancer, it can happen to anyone, it can kill anyone, and there is no cure, there is no “getting over” it.

Early detection is great, but it is not a cure. Estimates are that around 30% of people with breast cancer, no matter what stage, will develop metastatic breast cancer (MBC) – cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, where it kills.

Breast cancer can, and does return, no matter the stage at diagnosis. It can return 3, 4, 5, 12, 27 years later.

Positive thinking and a “will to live” are not a cure. It may help people feel better and enjoy their lives more, but it will not cure cancer. I guarantee that every person who has died of cancer really, really wanted to live.

Funny, or touching, or clever social media MEMEs do not cure cancer. Pink ribbons sure as hell don’t cure cancer. Nor do any of the feel good cancer campaigns.

What might? Research. Plain old, boring, slow-as-molasses research. That’s what might help. Targeted treatments for some types of cancer, which can seem practically miraculous to those of us who have been around a while, were developed out of years of painstaking research. But a useful treatment for one type of cancer does not necessarily mean it will help another. There is no one thing as cancer, so there will never be one “cure.” Each and every advance comes out of research. So if you want to do something useful, donate $$ to research – RESEARCH.

Don’t mindlessly give money to any organization without checking how they spend it – and this is true for any cancer! Is the money going toward research? Or is all the money going to make little ribbons?

“Awareness” campaigns don’t do anything to find effective treatments. And at least for breast cancer, are probably fairly unnecessary at this point – unless they’re targeted for underserved populations. A recent study pointed out continuing racial biases in pain management, and earlier studies show disparities in cancer diagnosis and treatment. There is also still little awareness of male breast cancer. Programs targeted populations which can still use some awareness are one thing, but really, middle-class white suburban women probably don’t need any more “awareness.” This is pointed mostly to breast cancer, but this does apply to other cancers. And that gets back to my previous point: if you want to do something useful in your grief, donate money to research.

Or go for a walk. Really. The American Cancer Society (in their 2012 Cancer Facts & Figures) estimates that a third of all cancer diagnoses in the U.S. are directly attributable to lack of moderate exercise and poor nutrition habits. And if you know someone who has or had cancer, take them for a walk. Based on various studies, breast cancer patients who exercised moderately had improved survival rates of 35-65%, depending on the study, the exact populations, and how is was measured. But benefits are not just for breast cancer, other cancers (colon, lung, prostate) have shown improvements also. But the results for these cancers are so strong that the AACR (American Association of Cancer Research) recommended that all cancer doctors should talk to all their patients about exercise, no matter what type of cancer.

Of course, exercise is no guarantee. I’m a perfect example – very physically active, and developed breast cancer in my 30s. And all of my friends listed above: Kate did yoga, Madonna walked/ran/climbed Kili(!), and Jody loved to walk and cycle. But statistically, we’re the outliers. Statistically, you improve your health, and your friend’s, if you go for a walk regularly (or cycle, or dance, or swim, or skip).

So go for a walk. And support research. Because I’m so damn tired of writing memories.

And enjoy your friends while you can, because that’s so much more satisfying than writing remembrances.


Posted in #BCSM, Above and Beyond Cancer, benefits of exercise, cancer prevention, cancer research, exercise and breast cancer, exercise and cancer | Leave a comment