Write the Movement Against Cancer team a testimonial!
We're improving the lives of more and more people in our community who have been touched by cancer. If you've had an experience with the team at Movement Against Cancer, please feel free to share your story with us.Share your story!
John is a 66-year old son, brother, husband, father, and grandfather. A Vietnam Veteran, exercise and keeping active has always been an enjoyable part of his life. An ex-triathlete, he still enjoys keeping active to this day through cycling and the occasional swim.
In 2012 John was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. Fortunately for John the treatment regime required was fairly quick – a single round of Brachytherapy – which was ultimately very successful. While he avoided many of the complications which come with multiple and varied types of treatments, John still suffered the common cancer-related fatigue that many survivors face. His pelvic floor was also weakened, another undesirable side-effect that many prostate cancer patients must deal with after surgery. John initially attended individual consultations to improve the strength of his back, chronically painful due to a degenerative disc issue. Following a round of one-on-one clinical Pilates and recently starting to attend the ‘Fit for Life’ circuit class to improve his overall fitness, John decided to join the MAC program as a means of continuing to perform an exercise program prescribed specifically to help achieve his goals.
Why did you decide to take part in MAC?
I wanted to improve my energy levels and reduce fatigue. I was very tired as a result of the treatment for cancer and found my energy levels were low. I also felt it important to manage my weight the right way – by reducing my body fat and increasing my lean muscle mass – as well as eating intelligently. On top of helping me get my strength back, I knew an increased muscle mass would help reduce my chronic back pain. Through clinical Pilates I had come to appreciate the important role of core and pelvic floor strength and wanted to maintain it for the long-term. I also like having the discipline of having my activity checked each week, as it keeps me honest and focused on achieving my goals. Finally MAC works in with other activities I do, complementing my cycling and general daily activities.
What do you like and dislike about MAC?
The sessions give me all round strength and muscle tone, as well as more specifically improving my core stability, while at the same time keeping an emphasis on the importance of flexibility. The sessions are closely monitored, with increases in weight done at a moderate pace. Activities are charted so you can see your progress, and of course you can feel the difference as you improve! Having others in the group adds a friendly dynamic and gives everyone confidence in their own program and overall journey. It’s fair to say there’s nothing I dislike about MAC!
How do you feel participating in MAC as benefitted you?
I have increased overall strength and fitness since joining the program, and my energy levels have returned to my ‘pre-cancer’ days. I still get some back pain at times, however it no longer concerns me as I now feel I have the tools to manage it myself for the long-term. In short I feel fantastic!
What would you say to others considering participating in MAC?
I would certainly recommend the program to others. DNA’s clinical approach to assessing the individual, establishing realistic goals, and then working closely with the person to monitor and progress every step of the way ensures success (provided you follow the program!). The terrific part is that the program will have an impact on your daily life, and that’s often the most important thing.
Vern is a husband, father and grandfather of 74 years of age. He has always led a fairly active lifestyle, previously being a keen runner and cyclist. He also worked as an athletics coach for some time, and as such the notion of the value of physical activity is certainly not foreign to him.
Knee surgery in his 40s offered some minor setbacks however bigger issues were to come. 20 years ago Vern suffered a stroke which affected his left hand side. The following year he had two stents inserted into blocked arteries, and six years ago was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Whilst not requiring insulin as such, he still required medication to assist with the control of his blood sugars, as well as his cholesterol.
However perhaps the biggest blow was to come in 2014 when Vern was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Radical prostate surgery and a seven-week course of radiation therapy followed, bringing with it decreased energy levels, issues with continence and a higher risk of chronic disease. The surgery also dropped Vern’s testosterone levels to close to zero, leaving him with higher levels of body fat, depleted muscle mass (and strength) and the likelihood of very low bone density over time.
Vern enrolled in the MAC program after Kate’s information session on the benefits of exercise and cancer at the Bayside Prostate Cancer Support group’s monthly meeting triggered his interest. He began performing his individualized program twice each week in the supervised group sessions whilst completing a walking program at home each day. “I felt I needed to get my body in better shape to fight the cancer”.
With Vern’s major goals being to improve his body composition (in particular to decrease body fat around his middle), his program focuses primarily on resistance exercise to restore lean muscle mass and strength and boost his metabolism. He also works on his cardiovascular fitness with short bursts of high-intensity interval training, and practices some balance activities to especially assist his left side, which is still marginally affected by the stroke.
Needless to say, after 12 months Vern’s results were staggering. Shedding ten centimeters from his waist and nine from his hips, he demonstrates improved scores for both his upper and lower body strength tests, a healthy blood pressure and his left-sided balance is now just as good as his right! He reports the major benefit to be his reduced fatigue levels and decreased weight, as well as “an improved general well-being”. In an added but major benefit, he has been able to completely drop his diabetes medication with his own muscles now able to control his blood sugar levels around a healthy norm.
Pivotal to Vern’s success is his consistency in performing his home exercise program and attending the MAC classes. In fact even during a further stint of radiation treatment late last year due to his PSA* levels rising, Vern diligently fronted for his supervised sessions, and then boarded the train to receive treatment that afternoon.
With his PSA levels now back to normal , it’s only onwards and upwards for Vern. As his exercise program continues to progress, he continues to decrease his risk of further heart disease, diabetes complications, and cancer recurrence.
“DNA’s MAC program has helped me to maintain a disciplined approach to my health and well-being – I would certainly recommend it to anyone.”
Vern’s case illustrates so well the use of exercise as medicine. Whilst he sought out guidance around an exercise routine to assist his cancer treatment and recovery, he has benefitted in so many ways and is likely adding years to his life. We hope you’re driving around in those fantastic classic cars of yours for years to come Vern. – Kate
* PSA, or prostate specific antigen, is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland which is measured via blood tests and is often elevated in men with prostate cancer.