Cancer: My story, not my obituary Part 5

Sihlesenkosi Mkondo Features Correspondent
Growing up, I wasn’t good in athletics, so I turned my love to books and the library.

I never stopped participating minimally though, playing hockey and doing field activities such as throwing the javelin and the discus. Later on in my adult life, I discovered the gym and aerobics and I was sold.

Enjoying myself and also experimenting with other training tools such as the treadmill and cycling, I would also run a few kilometres whenever I could after work.

This week, Zimpapers in partnership with Island Hospice once again invites all who can in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Kariba to take part in a Cancer Power Walk this Saturday morning. It is a great cause to be part of as cancer is a growing scourge affecting anyone at any time. I wish to join in the conversation and talk about exercise and cancer, especially breast cancer.

 Fighting cancer with exercise

According to the Cancer Association Soutien and I quote “Recent studies have shown that staying active reduces the risk of developing breast cancer by 20 percent.

“The risk of relapse is also much less likely in women who exercise and play sport: three hours per week would reduce the risk of recurrence by 20 percent. This rate rises to 50 percent for women who do nine hours of sport per week.”

Diagnosed, operated on and under treatment for breast cancer, it has not been easy to exercise, but I am drawn to the fresh air in the mornings. Nowadays I walk a lot — at least 20-30 minutes daily — and the times I walk are refreshing as the air is different in the morning as it is too at dusk.

I listen to birds because the surroundings where I walk are well-treed and with an active birdlife.

I understand the need to exercise moderately as with mild lymphedema (a condition caused by the cutting off of a number of lymph nodes during the mastectomy), rigorous exercise may be detrimental. But exercise I must!

Cancer treatments leave you tired for a long time, and I understand from those who have been dealing with it for a long time that when you exercise you feel less fatigued. Cancer treatments and medications (some of them long term) cause tiredness, pain in joints and lack of sleep.

So with exercise, tiredness and pain are reduced, joints and muscles are strengthened, making one regain physical fitness quicker. I am of the opinion that the icing in the exercise cake is reducing the risk of relapse or return of the cancer with exercise. However, advise from health workers involved with cancer is that exercise and sport should be done under supervision of a trained or qualified personnel.

In the process of regaining control over their bodies, cancer patients need support from professionals who understand the disease’s mechanisms and the impact exercise can have.

Sometimes we do not realise that simple things such as gardening and doing household chores are also forms of exercise which are therapeutic in nature.

Sihlesenkosi Mkondo is a researcher for Zimpapers Television Network and a cancer advocate

 

Linking exercising cancer risks reduction

In breast cancer, there are some hormonal growth factors which may encourage cancer development and progression such as insulin and estrogen.

So besides eating the correct diet, those affected with breast cancer for example, should be mindful of these growth factors which are countered with exercise and reducing or keeping weight gain and obesity at bay.

As survivors, we are encouraged to exercise to reduce weight gain as well as improve the quality of life as exercise leaves one with a good body and thus raising self-esteem which takes a knock when one has cancer.

Exercise is also refreshing and improves mental health, physical functioning and emotional well-being.

For those “who can and who will” walk powerfully supporting the cancer cause, I salute you as you support the fighters. Let us admire the survivors, remember the taken and never ever give up hope.

#inallyourgettinggetunderstanding

Sihlesenkosi Mkondo is a researcher for Zimpapers Television Network and a cancer advocate

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