February is National Cancer Prevention/Awareness Month. (More info here.) In true Fit After Fifty-fashion, we wanted to share one of our stories to convey the ‘MOVING’ component to defeating cancer — one of two primary components,benefits of exercise, diet being the other, that WE HAVE CONTROL over in optimizing our health and deterring cancer from originating in the first place. Alison Regan’s story, featured in Inspire your FitBehavior, is unique in that as she was writing about her fitness journey, she received the news of a very scary diagnosis. Here’s an excerpt from her story:
In late May 2011, I was told that a mole that I had removed from my stomach tested positive for melanoma (skin cancer) and that it was deep enough to require further surgery. This is because melanoma doesn’t just spread out or down, it also jumps around. That’s right—it jumps. So, the doctors determine how much more they need to remove based on studies of how it’s behaved in the past when it reaches certain depths. My melanoma was one millimeter deep; anything above 0.7mm requires the one centimeter buffer. And, anything above 0.7mm also carries an increased risk that it has spread to the lymph nodes. My whole future had essentially turned on 0.3mm.
I felt betrayed on so many levels, like I had betrayed my body by not finding this thing sooner, that my body had betrayed me, that my doctors had dropped the ball by not finding it sooner. And this was especially frustrating because I am someone who knows the risks and takes necessary precautions. I am the queen of sunscreen. When they say to apply sunscreen liberally, I actually do. And I have had an annual mole check for many years. And I still couldn’t catch this damn thing in time to avoid all this. It just felt so unfair.
So you may be thinking, “What’s the point in trying to actively ‘prevent’ cancer, while it clearly still infects the ‘healthy ones’ too.” Aren’t there very few “sure things” in this life?! However, why not do what is in within our power to significantly increase our chances to remain healthy?!
Check out what Alison has to say about it in her home video:
More from Alison’s chapter in the book:
Fitness as my greatest ally.
There are so many benefits of exercise to keeping physically fit. We don’t often consider that our bodies, when fit, will more easily bounce back from trauma, including the trauma of surgery. The doctor told me afterwards that when she opened me up it was “like looking at a textbook.” And because I was fit, the surgery itself went smoothly because they could find the lymph nodes easily, which meant less trauma to the surrounding tissue. This meant, of course, that I was more likely to make a full recovery and get back to doing the things that I loved. And in more good news, the remaining lymph nodes tested negative. My doctor’s exact words were, “Right now, you are disease-free.” That is a mantra that I repeat to myself: I am disease-free. Those are beautiful words to me.
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