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Don’t Sweat It, or Do!

Don’t Sweat It, or Do!

When I returned to work after chemo, I couldn’t wait to build my strength back up. I was determined to get back in the gym and get in great shape.

Before cancer, I had also always made it a point to work out a few times a week and I was motivated to get back to my old routine. Not quite sure where to start, I hired a personal trainer with money I didn’t have. Let’s be honest, do any of us actually have spare money after cancer? Those medical bills are no joke! Maybe it wasn’t the most responsible thing to do, but a friend reminded me that I couldn’t really afford NOT to make my health a priority so I convinced myself to somehow find a way to make it work.

Time for a change

It didn’t take long to realize just how much chemotherapy had affected my strength. With exercises that I used to be able to do with 30-pound weights, I was now struggling to use just 10-pound weights. It was so disheartening.

After a lot of frustration and many tears, I decided that I needed to change my outlook on fitness. It wasn’t fair to compare my current self to the old me. I did a complete reset and started with a fresh, clean slate. I was no longer going to think about where I should be physically, or what I was able to do before chemo. This gave me a chance to set new goals without any pressure of living up to the unrealistic expectations that I had set for myself. It also made seeing even the smallest amount of progress exciting. It’s important for anyone recovering from cancer to remember that chemo does a lot of damage to our bodies and we need to be patient with ourselves.

Cancer is my motivation

With my new perspective, I was able to use cancer as my motivation instead of as a reason to feel sorry for myself. I loved watching my progress pictures along this journey and once again, I found myself excited to get in the gym. I’m still not able to lift as much as I was pre-cancer, but I’ve managed to keep fitness a top priority in my life.

I’m not going to the gym nearly as much as I was when I first returned to my life after cancer, but I have found other ways to stay active. I really feel like hitting the gym early soon after I was done with chemo helped the transition back to normal life in so many ways. Now whenever I meet a recent cancer survivor, my first piece of advice is always to be as active as possible. Go for a walk, enjoy a bike ride, or find another physical hobby that you enjoy because it really does help. And remember, it’s ok to start over! Just a little bit of determination can go a long way.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    1 year ago

    Crystal, I can relate. I felt the need to add fitness in my treatment, to mentally and physically prepare to rebuild my new body. There are some days you don’t want to be bothered… and that’s okay. The next day we start anew with and extra sit-up, and keep it moving!

  • Daniel Malito moderator
    1 year ago

    @crystal_hu Crystal, it must be a thing because when I finally go home from the hospital, I resolved myself to getting my strength back and getting in shape. It’s working out well so far, with muscle going on and fat coming off. Thanks for sharing, keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • VinnieCent moderator
    1 year ago

    Same here! I remember running a timed mile post treatment and my time was 90 seconds slower than it was pre treatment. I was devastated. Making that mental adjustment is super important in building or rebuilding a healthy life. Thanks for sharing @crystal_hu!

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