Thursday, August 26, 2010

My support system

Once cancer therapy has been completed, the next phase of cancer
survivorship is recovery. Ok, so I started earlier than that! Cancer treatment left me more physically drained than I ever thought possible. Sometimes I had trouble getting out of bed! It made me feel horrible; it was a huge psychological blow. A program of regular exercise is a great way to improve overall fitness and sense of well-being. Studies also suggest physical activity may be important for reducing the risk of recurrence (cancer coming back) and helping some cancer survivors live longer. But it can be hard to find the best exercise routine during and after cancer. I credit Roller Derby as the secret to my strong and continued recovery. The best way to make an exercise plan is decide what kind of activities appeal to you—after all, you have to like it, or you won’t stick with it. Cancer survivors can generally do any exercise that makes them feel better, but need to know their potential limitations. Whether it’s walking, biking, or roller derby, it’s important to get out and do something at least 2-3 times per week. I also recommend the buddy system. Get a friend, a spouse, or a co-worker to go with you because a buddy makes it easier. I have over 70 "buddies" -- they are the Twin City Derby Girls!
Sometimes survivors provide their own emotional support by taking care of health issues and doing things in their own way. Others build emotional support systems of only a few people but some utilize many family members, friends, co-workers and new friends they make after diagnosis. There so many individuals in my life who help me in different ways on my cancer journey. I use a combination of support because I am doing it my own way through roller derby, which gives me an entire league of awesome women who let me be "Hot Tamale" and always have my back. It's rough and tumble because there's no crying in derby! Strapping on those skates makes me a "warrior woman"! As my teammate Holy SteamRoller says, "Just putting on my skates means I win." Right on! I also have my support group, the Young Survival Coalition where we can talk about things such as being fearful about getting cancer again or worrying about finances and affordable health insurance or even questioning existing relationships. We can cry together but we can also laugh together. I have former co-workers and friends with whom I can enjoy a carefree lunch or a lively discussion about my future. Most importantly though, I have family who understand my vulnerabilities, allow me to (sometimes) wallow in self-pity but kick me in the ass when I need it. I need each and everyone of you to help me with this journey. Thanks for being here!

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