Upon receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, you should first start out by talking to your doctor about the various options for treatment. During your conversation, it is important to know the goal of the treatment and any side effects that can happen as a result of the procedure. This will help you to make the best decision for you when developing your treatment plan.

Common treatment options for breast cancer can include:

  • Surgery: to remove the cancerous tissue
  • Radiation therapy: to remove any remaining cancerous tissue after surgery
  • Chemotherapy: a drug treatment to kill any fast-growing cancer cells

Although these treatments can help stop or slow down the growth of cancer cells in the body, there are a number of side effects one may experience. Some common side effects include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue (feeling tired most of the time)
  • Lymphedema (the buildup of lymph fluid in the body that can cause swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, hands or arms)
  • Neuropathy (the damage of nerves- particularly in the feet- causing tingling and numbness)
  • Cognitive issues (difficulty remembering things or concentrating)

When dealing with these side effects, one of the best things you can do is participate in a gentle exercise program. One fitness program I want to highlight is Moving for Life (MFL). Moving for Life is a dance exercise class that was carefully designed to address the needs of those dealing with cancer and the side effects often accompanied during and after treatment. Founded by Dr. Martha Eddy, the program is based on somatic movement education that focuses on the listening and paying attention of body cues. This in turn, enhances safety and healing through self-awareness and body knowledge.

During a class, it begins with an easy breath-based warm up, some aerobic movements (cardio) to increase the heart rate, resistance training to build strength and increase range of motion, sequence challenges for the brain, and ending with a relaxing stretch. This fitness program has been endorsed by surgeons, oncologists and exercise experts across the US. The program is perfect for anyone regardless of fitness level.

Some of the amazing benefits of exercise during breast cancer treatment include:

  • Increased stamina
  • More energy- relieves fatigue
  • Increase range of motion
  • Helps to maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduces swelling

I am passionate about this work and am a certified cancer exercise specialist through this organization. I have been teaching this class for a number of years and can attest to the benefits of the work.

For more information, visit www.movingforlife.org

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