Prostate Cancer and the Importance of Regular Exercise
I grew up in a time before the internet, cell phones, and personal computers. My friends and I would spend most of the day outdoors from early morning to late at night. Everyone knew everyone. It wasn’t unusual to go inside a neighbor’s house to use the washroom or even look for food.
Exercise versus junk food
We all got plenty of exercise between riding our bikes, climbing trees, playing street hockey, and many other activities. Therefore, eating junk food didn’t seem to be a problem. And I consumed a lot!
The good news is, the early days of being physically active stayed with me over the years. Before retiring, I rode my bike to and from work for over 25 years. I earned a black belt in martial arts and trained four to five days a week. And on top of that, I was in the gym three to four times a week.
The bad news is, consuming junk food continued into my adult life. And I still struggle to eat healthy today.
Shocked to have prostate cancer
Despite the less than ideal diet, it was still a shock to learn that I had prostate cancer. After all, I was physically fit with no health issues. It was hard to hear the word cancer, and I immediately thought the worst.
I wasn’t on any prescription medication and never smoked or used street drugs. And more importantly, I had no symptoms of any kind. Overall, I was in the best shape of my life. So I thought, anyway.
I had retired a few years before my diagnosis, and since then, my activity had reduced dramatically. And I was still consuming junk food. I thought maybe it was my fault for not taking better care of myself.
But I have since learned that there are many factors involved, and not everything is under our control. After my cancer treatment, I promised myself that I would get back into shape and work hard to improve my eating.
Starting from the beginning - again
Since I was no stranger to exercise, I hit the gym hard and hired a personal trainer. But my long absence required starting at the beginning. My mind thought I was still in shape, but my body strongly disagreed.
After a short workout with the trainer, I began to feel sick and weak. My vision became blurred, and I was on the verge of passing out. My trainer helped me to a nearby chair, but I collapsed along the way. As I rested facedown on the floor, I realized that I was no longer fit.
I’m grateful to have had a trainer with me. She checked my heart rate, helped me sit up, and gave me a juice box. After a long chat, she helped me accept my new fitness level and provided nutrition advice. Her calm nature and caring voice instilled me with confidence.
I no longer felt embarrassed about my fitness. I had exerted myself too hard without even realizing it. My mind believed that I was at the same fitness level as my pre-retirement days.
Since that first day, I have been making good progress in the gym. Due to COVID-19, I’ve been working out at home and using Zoom to keep in touch with the trainer. I no longer compare my fitness level to my pre-retirement self and take comfort knowing that I’m doing my best.
For me, working out is more than physical. It’s a mental escape that allows my mind to be free of worry and gives me a sense of peace and contentment.
It's never too late
Since my prostate cancer treatment, my physical fitness has improved, my stress levels, and fear of recurrence has decreased, and I sleep throughout the night.
For all these reasons, I strongly recommend regular physical activity of any kind. Although making the right food choices remains a challenge, it’s never too late to begin eating healthy and exercising. Please check with a healthcare professional to determine what’s right for you.
What was the most difficult part of your diagnosis?