Pilates for Cancer

March is colon cancer awareness month.

Colorectal ‪#‎cancer‬ is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States when men and women are considered separately, and the second leading cause when both sexes are combined.

The best defense is early detection: have a colonoscopy every 5-10 years after age 50.

Colon cancer took my grandpa but it didn’t take my awesome friend and client, Lisa. Here’s her story about how ‪#‎pilates‬ helped her through her journey:

How Pilates Got Me Through Cancer

By Lisa K.

The year of 2014 started out as just another year. In early April I had a routine colonoscopy. In the next two weeks:
• I was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer,
• Had a team at the Lombardi Cancer center, and
• A course of action planned and initiated for my diagnosis.

While this was a very bad time in my life I did find things to be grateful for. Among the items I count as my good fortune is how Pilates helped me through my illness. During the course of my treatments my instructors were very discrete and assisted in making adjustments to weights and form so I could continue taking classes. As it turned out I was able to attend classes 3-4 times a week throughout my eight-month treatment plan.

Pilates not only helped me in maintaining my physical condition but it also helped me maintain my mental focus. After being diagnosed I felt I had lost complete control of my life. The only thing I felt I could control was attending class. While this may seem small it becomes a very important item. I am immensely grateful to the instructors at Potomac Pilates for the assistance they provided to me. I also want to say the amount of compassion and concern from other Potomac Pilates members was very touching and was a great help to me.

During the course of my treatment needed to have MRIs that required me to lie completely still for 90 minutes at a time. At first the thought of being in a narrow tube was a bit frightening. I reflected on the Pilates instruction, “anchor your back to the mat and focus on your breath” and the mind body connection as a means of relaxing.

I would like to share some of what I have learned in the hopes of helping others.

Some things to take note of:
• Continuing to exercise though chemotherapy does ease some of the side effects.
• Some studies have indicated that sustaining muscle mass during chemotherapy treatment will not only ease side effects but can also provide a better response rate to chemotherapy.
• While radiation today is very targeted there are some studies that suggest havening lower amounts of body fat assist in directing radiation hits.
• Radiation can cause some organs to shrink, and others to swell. Maintaining an exercise program can help in balancing some of this out.
• It does not matter how healthy a person is; cancer can still develop.
• Being healthy and active does give an edge to those being treated for cancer.

I am happy to say I am now cancer free. I understand the medicine played a large part of my recovery. I also know that Pilates played an equal part in helping me manage the medicine and coping with my illness.