Patient tips Three ways exercise helped during my cancer treatment

Three ways exercise helped during my cancer treatment

Ed R. was diagnosed with stage 4 rectal cancer in 2016 and was treated by local doctors for 18 months. He sought a second opinion with City of Hope, where he continued his treatment with surgery, advanced genomic testing and targeted therapy. Throughout his years of treatment, Ed worked hard to continue his exercise routine. Here, he shares how exercise helped him while undergoing treatment.

  1. I wanted to find ways to strengthen my body for the fight ahead. During my initial treatment, which consisted of radiation, chemotherapy and surgery, my exercise program consisted of light calisthenics and walking. Both of these activities prevented severe muscle atrophy and minimized body mass loss.
  2. Exercising allowed my immune system to do its job. My immune system was being weakened by chemotherapy, so anything I could do to improve its function was a plus. Staying active not only helped in my cancer fight, it also helped prevent illnesses such as colds and flu.
  3. My stress levels were lowered. Exercising allowed me to reduce stress hormones and stimulate the production of endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood elevators. Exercise also improved my sleep, which is often disrupted by stress.

    When I was physically able, I started strength training again. I started with small goals. I knew getting back into my previous exercise routine was going to be a marathon not a sprint, but I knew it would help me. My oncologist is pleased with my progress and fully supports me exercising during treatment. Plus, I feel better about myself and my progress! I am living again—not just existing.

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