Energy - Harry Parsons

Anyone who has had a cancer journey will tell you how tiring it is. But you bounce back right? After all the treatments have run their course and worn off? Surely! No. At least not for me. And I know I'm not alone in this complete burnt-out, flat-as-a-pancake, don't-want-to-t=do-a-single thing exhaustion caused by having (and beating) the big C.

So, what can you do? For a long while after finishing my chemo and radiotherapies and being regularly sick in the mornings, I thought one day I was just going to wake up clear-headed, alert, and ready to take on my day. My doctors said it would just be a matter of time, so I waited and then I waited some until I decided that if I wanted to live this life I had been given a second chance at, actually live it - not just meander through it, then I needed to somehow get my energy back. "So, what do you recommend I do, Doc?" I asked them all. All I kept hearing was exercise, exercise, exercise. You're kidding, right?

The longest I spend on my feet every day is ten minutes in the shower, and doing just about anything saps my energy too quickly to fight it; and you want me, in this exhausted state, to strain myself physically, to SPEND what little energy I have, in order to gain some? Come on. I should add at this point that I was also a victim of a stroke following my first surgery in 2015 which took a toll on me physically, and on top of rendering half (left) of my body practically useless, I was idle for so long that my fitness deteriorated very quickly and I packed on weight like it was my job. The concept of exercise, or any physical activity was tiring to even think about.

I remember when I was younger learning that cancer sufferers were always tired. My plucky and energetic former self-thought, "How can they possibly be so tired?" Oh! How those tables turn. Turns out these good medical professionals do indeed know what they are talking about. It took me some time, but I eventually went to a gym and met with a trainer, who would you believe, had also suffered a life-altering blow to his health - his in the form of being hit by a speeding truck on the side of an American interstate. Not cancer, but equally traumatic.

Mark had been a professional sportsman, in incredible shape and he was scraped off the highway, implanted with metal all over, and didn't look remotely like a man of 60 by the time I met him. A real-life wolverine who understood my plight. He trained me for a couple of months out of his little fitness studio and taught me how working out was as much a mental game as a physical one, as well as a few new tricks in the gym. We started slowly but eventually, I started loving the exercise - blood flowing, endorphins pumping. It was fantastic! I would leave the gym every day having worked hard but still ready for anything.

So, what's the moral of this little story? Well, we don't all have access to a Mark sadly, or a gym, but that's not the point. The point is to take exercise even if you don't want to. Even taking a leisurely walk is enough. I have pledged to myself to do at least one physical activity per day, whether it be lifting weights, walking outside (swimming in summer), tennis, or just about anything (showering doesn't count). And if there's one thing about doing exercise, it's that you never regret doing it. I'd be a fully-fledged and overweight couch potato now if I hadn't just started to get active. I am gradually losing my stubborn cancer weight and starting to feel good again. - Harry Parsons


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