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rebuilding muscle mass & feeling my age

blackswampboy's picture
blackswampboy
Posts: 341
Joined: Jul 2012

I've always been a pretty fit guy--avid hiker, ice skater/rollerblader, frisbee thrower...
until the cancer beast robbed me of 40 lbs. and sapped my energy to get off my ass. I lost so much muscle mass (and fat), sitting on a hard chair hurt my bony butt.

now that I've started to gain back some of the lost weight, it's dawned on me that unless I get back on a fitness program, the weight is going to come back as something other than muscle...

so I started out a few weeks ago on the exercise bike, gradually building up to about 30 mins. a day. I can do an hour or two of weeding and light yardwork. this week I picked up some light weights, and am doing curls. so far so good. plenty of fatigue, but no real pain.

until yesterday, when I walked a flat two miles in the woods. yikes! today I feel like I backpacked a high peak in the adirondacks. hips are killing me. this is the most pain I've felt since they put in the chemo port and PEG tube. how can this be?
I'd been hoping to go to Cheap Skate next week at the ice arena. but now I realize that I'm a long way from doing hockey stops. it's a bit depressing.

curious to know what others have done to rebuild large amounts of muscle mass, and how long it took. does your cancer center offer any kind of exercise regimen?

Greend's picture
Greend
Posts: 679
Joined: Feb 2010

I never did get back what I had but then I didn't make a huge effort to try. I simply gained back about 20 lbs of the 100 lbs I had lost. Now I wish I had tried harder. My stamina was back to normal within a yesr - long walks etc.

Do your best.

hwt's picture
hwt
Posts: 2008
Joined: Jun 2012

Through tx I forced myself to get outside and blow the stink off with short walks, even during the time I had a walker and then a cane (had fibula removed from leg to reconstruct my jaw). I think just that little bit of consistent forced exercise throughout tx is what helped me get my energy back so quick. By 6 weeks out I really felt like I had plenty of energy and haven't looked back in that respect. Muscle no, energy yes.

blackswampboy's picture
blackswampboy
Posts: 341
Joined: Jul 2012

wow, your discipline is impressive--a good example for us all. I'll keep you and your walker/cane in mind when I'm tempted to wallow in self-pity over my aches and pains.

katenorwood
Posts: 1862
Joined: May 2012

Hey there !
I was just pondering this one myself. I plan on first checking with my primary...for a battle plan. Seriously, we have all been through a life altering dx...and need to remember the new normal may never be what it was. But I'm with you, any time we can build our immune system back up and muscle mass it's a win, win situation. Good luck, and keep posting what works for you ! Katie

longtermsurvivor's picture
longtermsurvivor
Posts: 1836
Joined: Mar 2010

because I keep getting cancer, lol. Ive learned I have to push pretty hard. Started walking the day after I finished rads. Then running and weights. I jog on the hiking trails in the mountains around here. I am now up to five miles amday. And my weights are almost up to where they were before I started this last treatment. I am seven months out from chemo/rads. I have noticed it takes longer each time. Some of that is likely age, some is that I have been treated a lot.

phrannie51's picture
phrannie51
Posts: 3849
Joined: Mar 2012

plus playing with him, etc. Once treatment started it got so I could barely walk across the pasture and back...and then it was hell opening the gate. Many times I'd have to stop out in the middle and sit on a hay feeder.

In the last month, I've extended the walks till in the last week I can go all around the city park, about 1 1/2 miles....it's a flat walk, no hills to speak of, but it has added strength to my legs. I always have used weights at work, so when I get back there on the 17th, I'll be dragging them out, and start doing my exercises with weights on my wrists and ankles.

I'm still too weak to carry a 30 lb bag of dogfood...that amazes me, cuz before I was sick, I could sling a 50 lb bag of grain over my shoulder, and carry it from the Jeep to the barn...now I can't even pull a bag out of the Jeep... :( Makes me feel kinda helpless, which I hate...

p

Jimbo55's picture
Jimbo55
Posts: 572
Joined: Jun 2010

You're not the first one to get knocked on your butt from overdoing it too soon after treatment. You wake up the next morning and whoa.

I endeavored to take a daily walk during treatment, though by the end it was all I could do to make it 15 minutes before having to take a breather. Several weeks after treatment I gradually started to increase the distance and began with the hand weights. The first run I tried was all of 5 minutes, it seemed like 25 minutes and I was sweating bullets when it was finally over. I kept increasing it by 1 minute with each run. Same with the weights, I started with the lightest weights they had and just slowly increased the weight over time. There are no shortcuts to this, or boom you're flat out knackered for the next few days.

At 2 years and counting past treatment, I am back to where I was before this all started. Slow and steady wins the race. Cheers

Jimbo

ditto1
Posts: 634
Joined: Mar 2012

of exercise in the abi-normal world Im in. Since I use a wheelchair I am constantly using my arms to manuever myself around the house and when outside the home as well. So I get a consistant upper workout, which was the case before cancer as well. When I do walk on my crutches its small distances so my leg gets some but not much exercise. I try to do body lifts in my wheelchair for some exercise but overall still feel much weaker than before tx for cancer. Before cancer I did not use the wheelchair around the house I would always use my crutches but due to being weaker I chose to start using it plus it eliminates concerns of tripping or falling during this time, but I also found I can now run the vacum / shampooer around the house using the chair and dust and clean (Diane loves the abi-normal version) But as I told Diane the other day, cancer sucks but I did lose the 35 lbs I needed to and quick smoking, 7 months now so for what its worth those two things are a good thing for my health.

ditto1
Posts: 634
Joined: Mar 2012

of exercise in the abi-normal world Im in. Since I use a wheelchair I am constantly using my arms to manuever myself around the house and when outside the home as well. So I get a consistant upper workout, which was the case before cancer as well. When I do walk on my crutches its small distances so my leg gets some but not much exercise. I try to do body lifts in my wheelchair for some exercise but overall still feel much weaker than before tx for cancer. Before cancer I did not use the wheelchair around the house I would always use my crutches but due to being weaker I chose to start using it plus it eliminates concerns of tripping or falling during this time, but I also found I can now run the vacum / shampooer around the house using the chair and dust and clean (Diane loves the abi-normal version) But as I told Diane the other day, cancer sucks but I did lose the 35 lbs I needed to and quick smoking, 7 months now so for what its worth those two things are a good thing for my health.

Billie67's picture
Billie67
Posts: 834
Joined: Jul 2012

I'm 14 weeks today and I haven't even gained one pound yet! I am really frustrated. Compared to others I didn't lose a lot but for me it was too much. I started out at 100lbs and now I'm only 86lbs. I'm eating everything I can get my hands-on and walking. All the RNs tell me is, "it takes time"
How much time is what I want to know? I also don't have a lot of stamina anymore which is depressing because before all this started I was like the energizer bunny. Ugh what to do.........

blackswampboy's picture
blackswampboy
Posts: 341
Joined: Jul 2012

great inspirational comments. now I'm motivated to do another set of curls. ;-)

Jimbo, I should clarify my concern. I'd love to take this slow and steady, but I'm gaining weight and I need to keep pushing the weight gain. my hope would be to gain it back primarily as muscle, not blubber. this battle will be waged over the next few months.
I haven't dealt with weight gain since about puberty, so this is uncharted waters. guess I'll have to deal with being knackered for the next couple of months.

I'm going to keep pushing the [painful] walking, although that might be more suited to cardio and general health than building muscle mass.

I've also cadged some whey protein powder from my kid.

my PEG tube is something of a hindrance for abdominal work. it's sometimes a little sore as is, without the added strain of abdominal crunches.

and proper stretching is hugely important, or I'll surely pull something.

Jimbo55's picture
Jimbo55
Posts: 572
Joined: Jun 2010

The weight gain is not something I had to deal with until more recently. During treatment I went from about 180 down to 155. It's come back gradually to 175 and trying to hold steady here.

I forgot to mention the whey protein powder. I would mix up a protein smoothie and it would give me a nice boost during the workout. I think it also helped to put on some pounds. Once I got back up to a decent weight I stopped with the protein powder because I felt it was leading to too much weight gain for me. Cheers.

Jimbo

pmj2011
Posts: 25
Joined: Mar 2011

Hey everyone I am now 19 months out of treatment. SCC stage IV of the tonsils. I staretd at 210 lbs went down to 160 and now back to 190 steady. I started back with walking and light cardio. The last 15yrs i have been studying Karate and after 9 months after end of treatment I started again. I would have to say it took a good yr out from treatment to feel as good or better than before. I am almost 20 months out now and I am in better overall shape than before .Keep your head up it does get better but it was slow as hell for me. FYI- in order to help with saliva production I did not drink liquids for an hour strait while training. Ciao

CivilMatt's picture
CivilMatt
Posts: 3085
Joined: May 2012

BSB,

I am not to big on planned exercise, but I do enjoy yard work, walking and hiking. It seems all have been put on the back burner. Well at 12:30 this afternoon I rented a stump grinder and at 6:30 this evening I wrapped everything up and called it a day. It felt very invigorating. Since I was out n the hot sun I had my Xylemelts in my mouth, my water bottle handy and my face, neck and arms covered in SPF 30. Now we are ready for a new tree. If I could just get back in the swing, there is a ton of work to do around here.

Best,

Matt

Tim6003's picture
Tim6003
Posts: 1497
Joined: Nov 2011

I lost 70lbs in treatment (sarted at 321 lbs, yes, big, big boy) ...I have now lost a total of 85lbs and I am staying steady.

I could not help but notice you said "hip" pain. 3 months after tx I told my oncologist my hips REALLY hurt ..he had no answer for that...most of the pains I had he could attribute to rads, chemo what have you. I just assumed the massive weight loss "shifted" my cartlidge in my hips and that is the reason for the pain.

Here's the thing, when I sit on the edge of the couch to tie my shoe, and bring my shoe/foot up to tie my laces, it hurts REALLY bad...very, very sore still to this day. I often get my daughter to tie my shoes for me. Still baffled by the hip pain...

...yet yesterday I carried an entire 80 foot tree I cut up into 20 pcs (for firewood) 40 yards out of the woods to my vehicle ...(with help from my 12 year old son) ..the tree was more geen then dead so it was quite heavy....yet, I can't tie my shoes????

For those who have been following me, my surgeon said I could continue to gather wood with my hernia..just take it easy and slow :) I only have a few more weeks to gather my wood for winter... :)

Today I am sore, but I feel good overall :)

Do you think the weight loss could be the reason for your hip pain...as for the other aches and pains, I'm willing to bet most of that is just "you got your bootie radiated" and are still recovering... :)

Tim

newfymom
Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2012

My husband found the same problem. He finished with his treatment 7 weeks ago. He is back training for the marine Corps Marathon. He is up to 6 or 7 miles. IT has been difficult and he has his good days and bad. But he is determined to at least start the race. He realizes that he will probably not finish but this is his 23rd time in a row of running this race. He also usues a stationary bike to warm up. He is getting there slowly. I think it has made his recovery better. He could barely run a mile at first. but it took a couple of weeks to get there. He too hit a wall at one time. I think he ran 3 miles and he said it felt like 9. The oncology nurses think he is crazy but his doc's are not committed either way. Just keep going and gradually build up. Hope this helps.

dennis318's picture
dennis318
Posts: 349
Joined: Feb 2010

My 40lb. loss came back slow then jumped upreal high, my body didn't look the same, muscle loss was terrible, due to weakness and couldn't exercise because of poor breathing..I have started to walk the trails...and a lit more physical and it is showing, watching what i eat was also another problem, sore and every joint ache...I went to the doc every two weeks for B12 shots, what a difference, ahd a help....but it can get very discouraging, the aches have left it does happen....a very long recovery, hang in there! Dennis

Bkanter72
Posts: 39
Joined: Mar 2011

Finished my treatment May of 2011 at which time I had gotten down to 160 from a solid 205. I am 39, went to school for exercise science, and have worked out consistently for 20 years. Needless to say seeing what I had worked so hard for for 20 years go away in a matter of weeks was one of the most difficult parts of the experience for me. Upon finishing treatment I immediately hit the gym and forced myself to get good calories in. I am very proud to say that today, 18 months later, I am at 211 lbs and as strong as I was in college. Now while my body has come back, my neck is my most recent focus. Prior to the treatment it was 17 1/4 inches and now is more like 161/4. It's very odd to have a skinny neck on my body. I have started wrestling moves such as a bridge to start restrengthening it...and it seems to be working, at least in regards to strength. I am hopeful size will come back over time.

Has anyone else has similar circumstances?

Bkanter72
Posts: 39
Joined: Mar 2011

Finished my treatment May of 2011 at which time I had gotten down to 160 from a solid 205. I am 39, went to school for exercise science, and have worked out consistently for 20 years. Needless to say seeing what I had worked so hard for for 20 years go away in a matter of weeks was one of the most difficult parts of the experience for me. Upon finishing treatment I immediately hit the gym and forced myself to get good calories in. I am very proud to say that today, 18 months later, I am at 211 lbs and as strong as I was in college. Now while my body has come back, my neck is my most recent focus. Prior to the treatment it was 17 1/4 inches and now is more like 161/4. It's very odd to have a skinny neck on my body. I have started wrestling moves such as a bridge to start restrengthening it...and it seems to be working, at least in regards to strength. I am hopeful size will come back over time.

Has anyone else has similar circumstances?

patricke's picture
patricke
Posts: 489
Joined: Aug 2006

Hey blackswampboy, I have had your experience, and have learned after startin over twice, and now I'm doing it a third time, that it is a matter of patience with the process. After my first round with the beast, I, who am a long time runner, surfer, weight lifter, etc., could barely walk around the block. I kept at it, slowly getting back into shape, and was eventually able to finish a half marathon, and marithon (with my PEG tube), and was able to get back into all of the activities that I love. I was even able to figure out how to safely surf with my PEG tube. I too am an avid backpacker, hiker, and camper, and have been able to get back into all of those activities. By the way, hiking in Big Cypress swamp is one of my favorite activities. So, with all this being said, I encourage you to be patient with the process, and you will be back in hockey games, and out on the trails in time, it just takes some time to get back, but you will indeed get back!

PATRICK

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