CSN Login
Members Online: 19

athlete fighting cancer

simplylacy08's picture
simplylacy08
Posts: 8
Joined: Apr 2010

I was just wondering if anyone out there is an athlete and fighting cancer too. I have been an athlete my whole life playing soccer, basketball, lacrosse, cross country and track. Now I run cross country and track in college, and was diagnosed with cancer the summer before my sophmore year. I have been lucky enough to continue to compete throughout this year, but one of my biggest fears is having to give it up. It's what keeps me going, and it's my stress reliever. I have malignant pleural mesothelioma, a very rare diagnosis for a 19 year old female. My brother has the same illness, but he is stage IV and not doing well at all. It scares me to know that we have the same diagnosis and he is suffering so badly but it makes me appreciate every moment I have. I can't help but to worry about what the future holds. I am going to school to be a nurse in hope to help out those that I can relate to, but I'm scared that I won't make it long enough to accomplish that goal.

Being an athlete, I have the mentality of never giving up and to fight till I drop, and especially being a long distance runner. But I never dreamed it would be this hard just to get through each day, or just to do the one thing I love to do the most, to compete. Luckily I have great coaches and wonderful teammates, but the reminder is still always there that at any moment I might have to give it all up because of this awful disease.

kpspur's picture
kpspur
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2010

I'm not quite the athlete you are, but I'm also a runner, and have played sports all growing up. I have stage III breast cancer, and when I first found out, running really helped me out. Actually, the first thing I did after I found out was to run. I was able to keep up with running through probably the two or three of my chemo treatments, but then the treatments got the best of me. For me, I found that it was just too hard to run, I would be extremely sick a week and a half every month, and would lose my endurance and any training during that time period.

Now I am a month and a half out of surgery and in the middle of radiation and finally working out again. I started playing tennis competitively and have been biking. Actually, today I had my first run since chemo...kicked my butt but well worth it.

Staying active helps a lot, keeps energy levels up and my spirits. Sounds like you're doing an amazing job and not giving up! My best friend was a runner for Auburn University, and I have several other friends who ran in college who help give me inspiration to keep running. I know it's hard, but sounds like you're doing everything you can to stay with it. I'm sorry to hear about your brother as well. Who do you run for? How is your track season going? Hope all is well...good luck with everything, I'll be thinking about you.

If you have any questions feel free to ask!

simplylacy08's picture
simplylacy08
Posts: 8
Joined: Apr 2010

Thanks so much for the reply!
Running helped me out a ton when I was first diagnosed as well. I've always used it as a way to release stress and anger, but my cancer is in my pleural sac around my left lung, so breathing has become a challenge while running. Keeping up with it through treatments is even harder, as I'm sure you can relate to. I'm sick for a week or two each month as well, but I try to bike and lift during that time so I can still compete. I'm no where near as good as I was before, but I'm ok with that as long as I don't have to give it up completely.

I also just had surgery recently, back in december. I hope you are responding well to treatments and all. I haven't gone through chemo, but I get radiation combined with whats called antiangiogenesis drugs that are injected straight into my lung. Not the most pleasant feeling, but I'll take it over chemo and losing my hair and all that. I run for The College at Brockport, in upstate NY, and the track season is going as well as it can given the circumstances. I recently qualified for our conference meet so I am just training until then since I have been quite sick the last week. I run cross country in the fall and that is the season I really enjoy. Did you run in high school? if so, what events did you do?

Good luck with your treatments as well, and in everything else. :-)

kpspur's picture
kpspur
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2010

Sounds like you're doing great! Yeah running has been difficult to get back into, I also biked before I could run. I didn't run in high school, but a lot of my friends did. My best friend won state in the mile in hs for GA. I currently started training for the Peachtree Road Race here in Atlanta...it will be my 8th time running it.

I also actually have some family from upstate NY. My grandfather grew up there...not exactly sure where though. I have a cousin that lives in Poughkeepsie, NY...not sure where that is or if it's anywhere near you, lol.

Good luck with track...and more importantly treatments!!

mtbikernate
Posts: 31
Joined: Feb 2010

I'm something of an athlete. less so since I got leukemia a year ago. I was a competitive soccer player up through high school, but injuries knocked back my physical activity for a few years after that. I wanted to play in college, but I wasn't up for it. I've just been a recreational athlete since, playing in the occasional recreational soccer league and getting into more outdoor recreation, too.

I mountain bike, hike, and canoe (the summer before I got cancer, I raced my canoe in a 22 mile race in 108F temps in Texas...I plan to do that race again this summer).

The leukemia itself and its treatments sidelined me for a year, so I'm only just now getting back into shape. I actually put on weight, partially due to inactivity (which drove me crazy) and partially due to my mother-in-law feeding me a poor diet compared to what my wife and I cook for ourselves. I'm getting my diet back in order, and I'm also getting some miles in on the bike.

It's a great relief for me to be able to do these things again. I received chemo for my leukemia, which seems to be the preferred course of treatment since it is more of a systemic issue (at its worst, the leukemia was in my liver, kidneys, retinas, and brain). I do agree that the athlete's mentality of fighting hard is a great help. But so is a strongly positive mindset.

The cancer will do WHATEVER it wants, so take it all in stride and wake up every day knowing that you won't let it do anything easily.

cgarr71's picture
cgarr71
Posts: 20
Joined: May 2010

Hey I am Chris. I was a starting offensive lineman at my university and my senior year three games in I was diagnosed with complete bone marrow failure and was told that I am could no longer play football anymore. After months of testing and a few bone marrow biopsies the found out it I had Severe Aplastic Anemia with PNH. I know this isn't exactly cancer but treatment wise its pretty much the same. I was fortunate that I was near MD Anderson in Houston Texas and now am at about 4 months post BMT. It was allogenic and again was blessed that my older/middle brother was an identical match. I received my transplant right in the nick of time because about a week before I had become blood dependent. Chemo was rough especially the ATG. That stuff took me to the ringer. And there are some really hard days but this is where being an athlete paid off for me. My many years of sport taught me how to sort of separate myself from the pain around me and push forward. As a runner I am sure you know what I am talking about. Plus being in great conditioning and in a strong physically helps out a lot too. So you have that going for you. Something else is being at the best facility you can. I am biased but if I would look at MD Anderson if you haven't already. But as to losing your sport. I think that was the hardest part. i walked away from my team because it was too hard to deal with. But like all things in life time heals all wounds. Not that it wont ever stop hurting all the way but that it just gets easier to deal with. To tell you the truth when I had to give it up my brother told me to get a dog. I did it and it was the best decision I ever made.

mtbikernate
Posts: 31
Joined: Feb 2010

I was treated at MD Anderson, too. I'm a grad student at SFA, not too far away, either.

I totally agree that being an athlete helps you mentally dissociate from pain and discomfort. This is probably the biggest advantage.

I also found out that my body was able to adapt to extreme anemia. I'd be anemic to the point of needing a transfusion, and I wouldn't even feel slightly tired. For example, I got a round of chemo 2weeks ago, and I've been exercising mostly like normal the whole 2 weeks. I did notice on Sunday that I got tired a bit early. But I was still working out quite hard, and after a 15 min rest, I was ready to go again.

I don't know if being athletic played a part in my clotting response, but my doctors remarked that even when my platelets were very low, I had a very strong clotting response. My platelets are still chronically low, yet I clot as if they were completely normal.

Skrane
Posts: 19
Joined: May 2010

Unfortuantly being an athlete has been tough on me. I had Ewing's sarcoma and overwent intense chemo and radiation. Now however less than 6 months post treatment I have been diagnosed with avascular necrosis (due to the treatment) so I have to walk with crutches for the next couple of years.

cgarr71's picture
cgarr71
Posts: 20
Joined: May 2010

Yeah I had the same issue. The biggest reason it took so long for me to get diagnosed was because I didn't show any symptoms till towards the end when my bruising became self-evident but even then they weren't sure because i didn't look sick, act sick, nor feel sick. They would let my hemaglobin get pretty low too. There was many times they couldn't understand why i wasn't asleep where i was sitting it was so low. But now being post transplant I feel like a freshman in high school again starting all over. Where are you going to grad school at?

mtbikernate
Posts: 31
Joined: Feb 2010

Stephen F. Austin State University up in Nacogdoches.

I feel pretty good most of the time. But, days like today remind me that I'm still not where I used to be. I was sore today just from weeding my vegetable garden yesterday. I was mostly sitting down or kneeling for that, too!

But, things will get better as I work at it. I signed myself up for a summer adult soccer league. That's going to be pretty brutal in the TX heat, but the games are only 25min long on a small field, so I should be able to handle it, at least by the end of the season.

cgarr71's picture
cgarr71
Posts: 20
Joined: May 2010

Well I have started working out regularly again and while my legs are going to take the longest time to come back fully my upper body seems to be responding pretty quick. I am now back at school taking summer courses and have access to the rec up here. I have to go at odd hours to try to avoid the rush and wear my mask which leads to endless amounts of questions and staring but its all well worth it. I am now using again the 100 lbs and over dumbbells which was a small victory and reassuring to me. Hopefully things keep going this good when I am officially off the immune suppressives.

billieny89
Posts: 10
Joined: Jan 2011

Stay strong stay positive and keep living day to day the best you can.

I am also an athlete. I'm 21 years old and I'm completing my third season on a Division 3 level college swim team. Being an athlete has saved my life. I went for a routine physical to complete for the swim teams and a nodule was found. My doctor gave me a medical clearance and I was able to continue with the season. As the season went on, and doctors appointments passed, I was eventually diagnosed with Papillary thyroid carcinoma. If it wasn't for this mandatory physical, god only knows when I would have went to the doctors next. After my total thyroidectomy, it was determined that I had two types of cancer, an aggressive form on one side and a not so aggressive form on the other. I was training with my team a week and a half after surgery. Being an athlete has given me the mentality of never giving up, as it has for you =]

I wish you and your brother nothing but the best, if you ever want to talk I'm here for you.
stay well !

~Billie Jean

Ultrarunner
Posts: 2
Joined: Jan 2011

I am a runner. I have completed 7 marathons, 2 ultras (31 and 62 miles) 50K and 100K, lots of other runs and I am active duty military AND of course I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer with a triple negative. It hasn't spread but the tumor is 3.5 centimeters which qualified me for a clinical trial at the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center in NC. My biggest issues so far has been my port. I have not started treatments yet. My port sits right where my running bra strap falls and 10 days after surgery it is still uncomfortable to wear a running bra. I have been stuck on the exercise bike (which is better than nothing I will say) but miss being outside and doing the thing I love. I will be having chemo once a week for 24 weeks and then surgery. I am still going to complete a half marathon mid Feb and then I agreed with my doctors to stay with shorter distances or do a walk/run workout if I need to to keep my strength and immune system up. I don't know how long I can keep it up but I'm going to go as long as I can. I have been surprised at the limited amount of information about execising while takine chemo that is out there. I continue to search, which brought me here, and I appreciate all the above posts and information you have provided. Hope everyone is doing well and continuing to be the best athletes that they can be.

Ultrarunner
Posts: 2
Joined: Jan 2011

I just ran my first half marathon since treatment started. Have had 3 rounds of chemo and it took me 3 hours 2 minutes and 33 seconds, but I did it. Anyone reading this, stay active and keep moving.

simplylacy08's picture
simplylacy08
Posts: 8
Joined: Apr 2010

Congrats on the Half!!! I ran a half last summer while undergoing treatments, and I know it is not an easy feat! I was able to continue to compete for a year and a half after being diagnosed, but this past winter I was finally forced to stop running. As much as it hurts not to be able to do the one thing I love, I have found some alternatives. My cancer is in my pleural cavity, making it difficult to breathe but I have found that biking is much easier on my lung while I can still get a cardio and strength workout.. and be outside! I have also tried swimming to re-teach myself how to breathe, and lifting weights is easy on my lung too. I have ran a couple times recently, and I was just given the news that my cancer has spread so I am trying to decide whether to run because it is something I love to do and is a way that I honor my brother, or not to in hopes that I might respond to treatments (which are all trials). Unfortunately there is no cure to what I have, so I guess I am trying to think quality over quantity even though I just want to deny all of it right now.

Subscribe with RSS
About Cancer Society

The content on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions.

Copyright 2000-2014 © Cancer Survivors Network