Healthy Habits, Healthy Mind

The funny thing about ‘healthy habits’ is that you can do everything ‘right’, but there are no guarantees in life. For me, breast cancer is hereditary.

he·red·i·tar·y

Something (like a health problem, like cancer) that is due to inherited genetic changes (mutations), which can be passed from parent to child.

 I have a BRCA1 gene mutation and so does my mom. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Prior to my diagnosis of breast cancer, I would go to the gym no less than 5x/week, spending countless hours lifting weights, running on the treadmill and in spinning classes. Then, WHAMMO! I was diagnosed with hereditary breast cancer at the ripe age of 35. Little by little, the cancer treatment, which was to allow me to get well again, was sucking the life out of me. Surgeries are never fun or easy. There was also the 4-5 months of chemotherapy followed by more surgery. While I was used to jumping out of bed and riding my bike to the gym and working out for 1-2 hours before work, it was all I could do to muster the energy to get to work and back home. Physically and mentally, I was being chipped away, or at least that’s how it felt.  I would try to walk or run a little during my treatment, but to be honest, I felt pretty badly most of the time, like I had the flu.  For me, chemotherapy had a cumulative effect. With every passing week, I felt a little worse, and it very much took a toll on my mental health.  With any recovery, whether from an ailment or an injury, it takes time to heal, and you tell yourself to be patient, but that is often easier said than done.

Now, I feel great again, and part of that I attribute to my exercise habits. Gone are the days of spending countless hours in the gym. After I finished treatment, I wanted nothing more than to live and participate in life, not in the gym. I joined a dragon boat team, which allowed me to focus on upper body strength, while also feeling like part of a team. I also started running more and then cycling. I’ve been riding my bike at least 4-5x/week for the past couple of years which might seem excessive, but I figure there are worse habits to have. Obviously exercise is important for one’s physical health, but it’s also a huge part of my mental well-being. I love riding my bicycle more than most people could ever understand. Even on the days when it’s windy or raining, and it feels hard, I never regret a bicycle ride in the wee hours of the morning when the streets are empty and you know your friends are waiting for you on the corner. It provides a great sense of joy and camaraderie, and lifts my spirits every time. It never gets old. Exercise is great for my body, but necessary for my soul!

 



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