Nick Davies was a participant in one of the first of Dr. Young-McCaughan’s studies on exercise and cancer.
“I was in the latter stages of chemotherapy and radiation treatments for lung cancer when a nurse introduced herself while I was waiting for a radiation oncology appointment and explained a little about an exercise study program. I have never been an exercise person. Even while I was in the military, I always managed to find some way to skimp on the annual exercise test. I couldn’t believe this nurse had asked me if I would be willing to participate in an exercise program for 12-weeks. I thought, “why not?” At that time, I would often have to stop and rest while walking from the parking lot to the hospital for treatments, partly because the treatments were kicking my butt and partly because I was just in poor physical condition. When I went to the hospital for my initial exercise interview I remember that we started up the stairway to the third floor and I couldn’t even make it to the second floor. We had to go back down and take the elevator. I knew that I wasn’t looking like a very good candidate at that time and was surprised they kept me.
I changed my mind a dozen times before finally going to my first exercise session. I wanted to do it, but didn’t think I could. There I found other people in the same condition as me, some younger, some older, but all with cancer in one form or another. At this first session I was introduced to the program Project Director, an exercise specialist. I was afraid I was going to embarrass myself the first day but the Project Director managed to get me through a few dumbbell lifts and some step exercises before putting me on the treadmill. I was only on it for a few moments but it seemed like hours. I was extremely exhausted after that first session and remember having to stop several times while walking back to my car.
I really wanted to give up after that first day, but I had “homework.” The Project Director had given me a list of exercises to do at home in between formal sessions. She also left me with a feeling I had to do these exercises and had to do a little better each time. Gradually, through the supervised exercises twice a week in the hospital plus the “homework,” I was able to improve to the point where I could spend 15, then 25, then 35, and finally 45 minutes on the treadmill. I could not believe how well I was feeling at the end of my participation in the study. I felt like a totally different person. I wasn’t afraid to try anything. I even did a 5K organized walk, which I never would have tried without the conditioning this program provided. I don’t get as tired as I used to and I sleep 100% better than I have in years. Rest cannot be over-emphasized for cancer patients. It makes all the difference in the world in daily activities.
The added strength and endurance brought about through exercise allows me to work hard, sleep well, and feel better overall. I have gained a sense of contribution to my own well-being. Doctors, nurses, medicines, and treatments can do marvelous things and those things can only improve if the patient has the proper attitude and conditioning to increase the odds of success. If all cancer patients were afforded the opportunity to participate in a study of this type, I feel that we would not lose as many as we do. I sincerely hope that many other people will have the opportunity I have had and I hope the entire medical community will support it until exercise intervention for patients with cancer becomes commonplace.”