Flourish Beyond Cancer
Just as the moonflower gracefully unfolds and blooms in the dark of night, you too can flourish in the midst of dark times or life challenges. Allow the metaphor of the moonflower provide a reminder of the ability to grow and thrive despite the darkness that cancer can cause in one’s life.
“To grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as a result of a particularly congenial environment.” Source: www.oxforddictionaries.com
One Young Man’s Path to Wellness Following Testicular Cancer:
How he Flourished through Running
While cancer occurs more frequently in older adults, there are certain cancers that are typically more common among young adults between the ages of 20 and 39. One type of cancer among men in this age group is testicular cancer. Thankfully the cure rates for testicular cancer are high, however some of the treatments for this disease can result in lingering and/or late side effects, both emotional and physical.
This is a story about a young man in my practice who had been diagnosed in his late 20’s with testicular cancer. When we met, he was in remission after receiving treatment about three years earlier and he was dealing with a number of issues common among cancer survivors such as fear of recurrence, fatigue, weight gain, etc. He was not exercising despite having been a runner in the past and was not attending to his mental and emotional health.
During his first visit we explored what his optimal vision of health might look like and it was very different than his current state of health and well-being. Upon further assessment and exploration of priorities for his health he determined that he wanted to improve his energy level and lose weight, while also reducing his anxiety about a cancer recurrence. He mentioned that he enjoyed running in the past prior to his diagnosis so this is where his new journey began.
Through our discussion it became clear that running could be a great strategy for him to manage not only his physical health, but also his emotional health. We delved into not only the benefits of running, but also the barriers that might get in the way of his success. He was determined and decided that he would like to achieve the goal of running a 5K and began putting a realistic plan into place.
Through guidance, support and self-empowerment, he lost a few pounds, increased his energy and completed a 5K a few months later. Additionally, he was better able to manage his fears of recurrence through resilience in gaining a sense of personal control over his health. He was exuberant when he shared the news of the race with me and of course I was delighted to hear his story of success!
While running may not be an exercise of choice for many individuals affected by cancer, there are many other forms of physical activity that could be explored. The key is to find a type of exercise that can be fun and sustainable.
The many benefits of exercise especially for those affected by cancer:
• Enhances weight loss/maintenance
• Improves balance
• Improves bone health
• Increases energy/reduces fatigue
• Increases/maintains metabolism
• Increases/maintains cardiovascular endurance
• Increases/maintains muscular strength and endurance
• Increases/maintains range of motion and flexibility
• Reduces muscle wasting
• Reduces risk for some cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis
• Reduces risk for recurrence of some cancers
• Increases overall health and longevity
• Improves emotional stability
• Enhances mental function
• Decreases anxiety and depression
• Increases a sense of control
• Improves self-esteem, confidence, body image, and self-acceptance
Exercise - It’s GOOD MEDICINE for the body and mind and can be as simple as a walk in the park.