Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Guest Post - Running and Cancer: Reclaiming a Sense of Control

By Liz Davies
Whether someone has treatable skin cancer or metastatic mesothelioma, a cancer diagnosis is one of the hardest challenges in life. In addition to the pain of cancer symptoms and the side effects of treatment, the battle with cancer takes away a patient’s sense of control. 

Cancer treatments, from surgery to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, are notoriously harsh and aggressive. Throughout the treatment process, a patient’s body belongs to doctors, surgeons, nurses, therapists, and insurance companies. It belongs to the cancer. This is how most patients feel. 

Running is a monotonous, exhausting, sometimes painful activity. If cancer patients can handle the exercise, it can help them reclaim ownership of their bodies.

Numerous studies have shown exercise to be very beneficial for cancer patients and survivors. Exercise, particularly aerobic activity like running, is good for the body, mind, and spirit. Running strengthens the heart, lungs, muscles, joints, immune system, and other body organs and functions. It also boosts energy, elevates mood, and improves outlook.

Cyclist Lance Armstrong, a testicular cancer survivor, has said, “Exercising may be one of the best things you can do for yourself during and after your cancer treatment.” Running is a good choice for many patients, depending on their cancer type and the stage of cancer development. 

Dana Jennings, a prostate cancer survivor, turned to running during his battle with the disease. He shared his story in a
2009 edition of The New York Times. Running returned a sense of control to Jennings -- control that was lost to surgery, radiation, and hormone therapy. 

Small steps are the best way to start a running program, especially if a patient was sedentary before cancer diagnosis. Jennings started slowly, walking laps around the hospital ward before shuffling through his neighborhood at home. Although it was hard at first, Jennings’ fitness improved over time, and he reclaimed control of his body. 

His cancer was no less a battle, of course, but running made fighting the disease a little easier. “After you’ve weathered prostate cancer and its treatments, the old aches and complaints of running don’t mean much anymore,” he has said. “They can’t compare to the pain and fatigue that accompany cancer.”

The American Cancer Society recommends 150 minutes of moderately-intense exercise each week. The best cancer fitness programs include flexibility exercises, strength training, and aerobic activity. Patients should seek doctor approval before starting a running program or any exercise plan.

Liz Davies is a recent college graduate and aspiring writer especially interested in health and wellness. She wants to make a difference in people’s lives because she sees how cancer has devastated so many people in this world. Liz also likes running, playing lacrosse, reading and playing with her dog, April.


  1. life changing indeed. thanks for the post!

  2. I see that you have ad's on the side of your blogging regarding cancer as well. Can you tell me about that?

  3. I think running is so beneficial...for the mind even more than the body. Great post. Jessica


  4. H Love - the Google ads are set up to take key words from posts and such and deliver relevant ads to the blog. Thinking of you and your family!

    (P.s. It's funny when I mention semi trucks and trailers...the ads on the side are all trucker related!)


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