The primary treatments for breast cancer (surgery, radiation, chemotherapy) continue to lead to significant morbidity for many individuals diagnosed with this disease. A number of physical impairments commonly result from treatments designed to save or prolong the lives of those affected. These include impairments of upper extremity range of motion and strength, upper extremity and/or breast lymphedema, pain, fatigue, loss of sensation, and reduction in levels of physical activity and health-related quality of life.
The following 5 tips can help lower risk of impairments:
- Gentle range of motion exercises the first week after surgery.
- Active stretching exercises 1 week after surgery, or when the drain has been removed.
- Active stretching exercises continued for 6–8 weeks or until full range of motion is achieved in the affected upper extremity.
- Progressive resistance training can begin with light weights (0.5-1kg) within 4–6 weeks after surgery.
- Postoperative assessments should occur regularly up to 1 year after surgery.
This information is in line with the Institute of Medicine report ‘Clinical Practice Guidelines We Can Trust’.
For further information on how you can start a progressive resistance training programme early please email Marie at email@example.com
Exercise reduces an individual’s risk of developing breast cancer. Furthermore, in individuals who have already been diagnosed with the disease, exercise reduces the chance of a cancer recurrence as well as improves quality of life.
Below is an easy explanation of the METs programme which I did for an initiative called ChooseToTri. June O’Connell started ChooseToTri after hearing me speak at the Irish Cancer Society’s Annual National Breast Cancer Conference (2010) when talking about the relationship between exercise and cancer prevention (METs).
In this video, I explain METs in a clear and easy to understand way.
For further information on METs please see:
Homeostasis is an essential part for our health. But, in order to promote a body in balance our mind needs to contribute. Choices we make in regards to stress reduction, healthy nutrition and regular exercise helps keep an imbalance at bay.
Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control. Managing stress is about taking charge of our thoughts, emotions, schedule, and the way we deal with problems. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Identifying our true sources of stress, we have to look closely at our habits, attitude, and excuses.
A regular diet rich in plant foods, fish, and lean protein boosts overall health and clearly helps protect against heart disease and diabetes. However when it comes to exercising inadequate nutrient intake deprives the body of the energy needed to perform, the carbohydrates necessary for glycogen replacement, the protein needed for tissue building and repair, and the micronutrients necessary for normal metabolism and maintenance of body homeostasis.
The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore and the benefits are ours for the taking, regardless of our age, sex or physical ability. Our body needs regular exercise, the right food, lifestyle and mental attitude to achieve its true health potential.
Picture of my sister (survivor) and two of her girls out on a walk yesterday in California
To reap all the benefits cardiovascular exercise (walking, cycling, swimming etc.) can provide, you need to be sure that your fitness routine is providing you with the right number of METs.
METs are the rate at which our bodies use oxygen (metabolic equivalents). If you accumulate >15 METs every week, then you get significant benefits in terms of fighting cancer. Studies have shown as little as 9 MET/hrs of physical activity over a seven day period increases survival rate for breast and bowel cancers.
Your fitness level has a direct impact on how many METS you expend per minute. So let’s say it take you 16 minutes to walk a mile, your pace is 3.75 miles per hour, which corresponds to 4.3 METs per hour. If you walk 3 ½ hours over a seven day period you will accumulate 15 METs for your week.
I will be giving exercise and nutrition talks for patients, families, survivors and health professionals during breast cancer awareness month as part of my pro-active educational programmes One of these talks will take place Thursday, 16 October 7:30pm–9:00pm at Good Counsel G.A.A. Club Davitt Road, Drimnagh, Dublin 12. This event is special for me because it takes place in my own home town.
Hope to see lots of familiar faces
FREE EVENT – ALL WELCOME Marie Murphy_Breast Cancer Awareness Month_Save the date
Please contact Marie at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a customised training programme.
A good cancer diet is similar to a cancer prevention diet. The main differences are that people undergoing chemotherapy may have higher nutritional needs and poor appetites. It is very important to eat the most nutritious foods you can get. A diet that is high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, fish, and low in fat, high in fibre is cancer protective.
Cancer treatments may decrease appetite and lower the ability to digest food which may interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and use nutrients. Focus should be placed on getting enough calories to keep up strength and eating a healthy a diet as possible to boost the immune system to help deal with possible nutritional deficiencies.
Think of the Irish Flag ‘plenty of green, white and orange fruits & vegetables. Make sure your diet contains plenty of low-fat protein, such as cold-water fish (salmon, sardines, and mackerel) beans, and white meat chicken or turkey.
Protein rebuilds muscle and tissue which is particularly important when your body has undergone chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Good fat such as olive oil and omega 3 oils including flax seed oil and fish oil are important, while processed fats and oils, such as Trans & hydrogenated fats in margarines and fats used for baking should be avoided.
Based on the results from Ireland’s 2014 Report Card on physical activity in children and youth, physical activity levels remain low in Ireland.
- Overall Physical Activity Levels D–
- Organized Sport Participation C–
- Physical Education D–
The estimated contribution of physical inactivity to the burden of disease in Ireland was estimated at 8.8% for coronary heart disease, 10.9% for type 2 diabetes, 15.2% for breast cancer, and 15.7% for colon cancer.
To see change in these types of statistics we need to have Physical Activity part of our National Schools curriculum. All children and youth should have the opportunity of a ‘quality’ experience of school-based physical activity and sport. At least 4 hours/week of sport and physical activity during school PE would be acceptable.
During my eighteen years coaching high school track & field and cross country in California; students joining my team first needed to pass the ACSM’s (American College of Sports Medicine) guidelines in prevention. If they did not pass first time out they trained with the team until they accomplished the goal and then they competed for their school. At the same time I had concerns for the students who did not participate; who I knew at 15–17 years of age were not in a state of prevention of disease. It took five years in gathering data on my teams before my school changed its curriculum and physical activity became mandatory.
We have many of these types of students here in Ireland that need to meet the recommended guidelines for lowering their risks later in life. It is up to us to give our children and youth the best possible outlook for their future. As we all know Health is our Wealth
Let’s get moving!
Your daily intake will have a big impact on how you feel. Without a proper, balanced diet you can start to feel sluggish and are likely to become fatigued– so ensure that you eat healthy meals at the correct times as well as fueling before, during and after your workouts.
Poor hydration can adversely affect your mental as well as your physical performance. Staying hydrated helps prevent tiredness as well as lower your risk of injury. Have a water bottle within arm’s reach at all times.
To avoid tiredness ensure you get enough sleep. Your body needs sleep to recharge and allow you to continue with your training schedule as well as repair and rebuild your muscles.
Caffeine can cause restlessness and sleeping difficulties. Cutting down on the amount of caffeine you drink in the evening will help avoid a restless night’s sleep.
Stress is one of the most common reasons for feeling tired — so the most important thing to do is identify what is causing your stress in the first place. Taking a few days off or using different muscle groups, can make a big difference to your overall energy levels.
Fatigue is usually a temporary situation brought on by overdoing it on a particular day or group of days. Good lifestyle choices that include a healthy diet, exercise, and sleep management should eliminate long-term tiredness, but if fatigue persists then seek advice from your doctor.
This past week I was asked to deliver a workshop on Exercise & Nutrition for teachers of SICCDA’s Afterschool Programmes which provide daily afterschool childcare to approximately 150 children living in the Liberties area of Dublin 8.
Their programmes provide participants with homework support, nutritious snacks and enriching extra-curricular activities in a warm, caring, child-centred environment. Camps during school holidays provide participants with fun, meaningful activities which provide continuity for children, and facilitate childcare needs.
The sixteen teachers who attended my workshop operated from the following schools;
- Scoil San Seamus CBS, Basin Lane
- St Enda’s National School, Whitefriar Street
- Francis Street CBS, Francis Street
- Warrenmount Primary School
It was a very positive experience engaging with the teachers over the course of the day. They found learning about the METs very interesting. All teachers took part in doing a fitness evaluation (1 mile walk) to see how their own fitness level measured up to the guidelines for prevention of disease. The sun was shining as we walked along the canal from Basin Lane to Rialto Bridge; all completing the course within 14 to18 minutes. So if see a large group of children walking briskly along the canal over the coming weeks you’ll know teachers are measuring their METs.