Why Moving Was So Important To Me During Cancer Treatment

Moving has always been an intricate part of my life. I was a tomboy as a kid, always playing football with the lads, or cricket and tennis in the summer. I then took up netball at school and pushed myself to be the best in my position. I was hungry to be the best at sport, I loved it.

After I tore my cruciate ligament playing club netball, I hung up my netball shoes and chose sports that didn’t involve changing direction. The pain from that injury was so excruciating, I never wanted to experience it again.

I moved to Abu Dhabi in 2008 and chose to run. I was positively influenced to run by my good friend Kim. She was an avid runner and encouraged me to run every day. After a few months of running recreationally I picked a goal to achieve, the Dubai marathon. I loved ticking the mileage off the training plan as it gave me such a sense of achievement. Kim did the Dubai marathon with me, (although much faster) it was one of the best experiences I ever had. Euphoric is a word to best describe it.

When I moved to Rome with Marco I still continued to run but Marco was a keen cyclist and bought me a road bike so that we could cycle together. It was AMAZING! Cycling in Italy is astonishing as you get to cycle in the sun (very important), experience all the extraordinary scenery and at the end you get to eat the most delicious recovery food. I was hooked!

I was diagnosed with cancer eight weeks after Marco bought me the road bike!

Cancer wasn’t going to stop me from cycling but I was so busy with appointments and consumed with thinking about the reality of the situation that it slowed down how much I was capable of doing.

When I was diagnosed for the second time six months later, that’s when things started to get a little more serious. I had signed up for the E’Tape Du Tour, a section of the Tour de France, and was so determined to do it. When the oncologist gave me the six months chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment plan, I asked could I continue with my training during this time. Her face was priceless. In a very soft voice she said, “Lisa, you are not going to want to do anything during treatment”.

I honestly didn’t understand what she was saying, was the treatment really going to slow me down? Oh hell ya it did!

Before my first 11hr chemotherapy session Marco and I went for an early morning run. I remember it so clearly. It was the 30th January in Northern Ireland and it was frosty with a beautiful red sky from the sunrise. I had to hold my hand over my face it was so chilly but at least I was running, cancer was not going to slow me down at this stage. I continued to run during my 21 days of recovery from the first session of chemotherapy.

Before the second 11hr chemotherapy session we went out early again, only this time it was a run/walk scenario. I was too tired to run the whole distance. During the second 21 days of recovery, Marco and I walked about 5km every day. I could really notice that my energy level was getting weaker but I still got up every day determined to walk in the fresh air. 

Before my third 11 hr chemotherapy session I couldn’t do anything. I was angry and emotional. All I did was cry. I had started the menopause and had no idea until I met with the oncologist that day. It was the worst time of my life. I was so ill I wanted the world to end during the three days following this session. My chemotherapy side effect from this third session was excruciating muscle soreness. Ironic that I got this side effect from the lucky dip of side effects. It was an experience that is indescribable.

After this third session my energy levels deteriorated to the point where I could barely walk to the end of the drive way. This was a poignant moment during my treatment and one I will never forget.

I couldn’t walk to the end of the drive way but at least I was outside trying!

Marco bought us mountain bikes during my six weeks of radiotherapy and on good days we got out on the mountain bike trails. It was so much fun. I loved being out in the fresh air. Even though spring had begun, I was wearing a ski jacket and hat as I was hairless and had no insulation. I didn’t care, I was doing something that was benefiting my physical and mental well-being. It was euphoric! Doing 20mins on a mountain bike trail had the same euphoric meaning as running the Dubai marathon. It felt like such an achievement.

Moving is so important to me because during my cancer treatment I felt like it was being taken away.

Cancer treatment was horrific. It stole my energy but it didn’t steel my determination to move. Moving in some form on a daily basis makes me feel like I am helping my body stay strong. It also helps my mental well-being when I am feeling low. I believe that moving during my treatment, as little as it was, helped me to recover well.

I have a little moto that I live by “Move because you can. If your ability to move was taken away today, you would be filled with regrets”

Moving doesn’t have to be excessive or strenuous. It can simply be taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking instead of using the car or getting out for a hike with family and friends. If you have the ability to move, do it and enjoy the physical and mental benefits it will give you.


Lisa x

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *