We all know how hard it can be to get motivated to hit the gym. Imagine finding the energy to train while you are fighting cancer? Siobhan O’Toole did just that. With the help of the incredible doctors at The Kinghorn Cancer Centre, Siobhan trained her way through cancer.
When Siobhan was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer known as triple negative breast cancer last year, she was swift to respond. A family history of breast cancer meant she was all too aware of the devastating effects of a late diagnosis.
Siobhan was referred to Dr Cindy Mak and was instantly relieved by Dr Mak’s sense of urgency. Dr Mak explained the treatment plan for Siobhan which included chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.
Siobhan’s life changed when she was introduced to Dr Sara Wahlroos, Medical Oncologist at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney, who enrolled her in a study of the impacts of weight bearing exercise on breast cancer treatment.
During the program Siobhan was encouraged to walk 8000 steps a day and lift weights 3 times a week.
A depleted immune system led to illness after Siobhan began chemotherapy but with Dr Wahlroos’ program and encouragement, she kept with her exercise plan despite difficult days.
Siobhan said of the program “I walked on average 8900 steps over the 156 days of chemo and completed more than 60 weights workouts. I lifted heavier weights at the end of chemo than the start”.
The side effects of chemo, such as nausea, was reduced and at the end of the treatment and Siobhan had maintained her muscle mass.
“Exercise gave me resilience. Chemo and cancer treatment is a marathon. You can’t sprint at the start to make it go faster. Having exercise gave me something to control during chemo. I couldn’t control the side effects but I could control weights and food. Exercise is also a prevention for depression”.
A passionate advocate for Dr Wahlroos’ research study, the pair now want to ensure everyone has free access to exercise during chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Siobhan and a dedicated support network or friends, family and professionals are working together to raise much needed funds to support a trial for other cancer patients to train their way through Chemo.
You can join Siobhan in raising $25,000 to start the trial and help cancer patients get the training and support they need to stay positive and fit while their body fights cancer.donate now