Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cycling like your life depends on it

In 2009, middle-aged attorney Elizabeth MacGregor's life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She endured a regimen of chemotherapy, but like anybody who has been stricken with cancer, was worried about its recurrence, and asked her oncologist how to improve her odds.

His immediate reply: "If you want to prevent a recurrence, you need to get your weight into a healthy range and get an hour of vigorous exercise every day."

She has an active background, and had bicycle commuted before, somewhat casually. "My return to the bicycle was accompanied by an urgency and seriousness of purpose that I’d lacked before. At the beginning, I felt as if I were starting from scratch. I rode slowly and got tired quickly. But I was patient, telling myself I was in it for the long haul."

Her twice-a-week regimen increased to three, and then four. She discovered some of the hard-to-describe side-effects of bicycle commuting, and became a true believer. Read her words HERE.

1 comment:

Scott said...

I had been bike commuting for about four years and considered myself a physically fit, able-bodied young man of 40. Then, on Christmas day, 2011, after three highly invasive surgeries and an undignified medevac to the U.S., I was diagnosed with colon cancer. My weight went from 160 to 125, and walking 200 yards required a nap after. Thankfully chemo was not required.

By late January 2012 I was walking 6 miles a day in foot-deep snow. My weight had risen to about 145, and I convinced my employer that I was fit enough to return to Africa to complete my assignment. On Valentines Day, fittingly enough, I braved my first bike commute in three months.

I cannot overstate the benefits bike commuting has provided me. Physically, it's helped me recover and hopefully prevent a relapse. Emotionally and mentally, though, it has been a Godsend. Exercise of course helps us deal with stress, and the anxiety associated with discovering that your body has betrayed you, as well as coping with a new and humiliating prosthetic, well, let's just say there is a lot of stress with cancer. My hour a day on the bike keeps my demons at bay.

Aside from that, it gave me a sense of control and independence, I took back what was mine: I control my life, not this *&%$# disease.

When I used my ability to bike commute as evidence that I was fit to serve in Baghdad, my employer couldn't dispute it, although people thought I was nuts to take my bike to Iraq with me.

Of course I did! We're in this together.