When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2001 at age 53, little did I realize that three years later after undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, more surgery and then radiation, I would be in such good physical shape that I would participate happily and energetically in the 6 km Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) Run for the Cure.
The WELL-FIT program at the University of Waterloo and its founders Caryl Russell, Mike Sharratt and Lori Kraemer as well as determination and hard work on my part enabled me to accomplish this goal.
Unbelievably to me, the recommendation of the WELL-FIT team was that I start the WELL-FIT program during the time I was receiving chemotherapy. I dragged myself there twice a week, so tired, sore and sometimes nauseated.
Caryl and Lori expertly and patiently led us through the cardiovascular and strength training exercises. Each day the tiredness, the soreness, and nausea disappeared for a while. Each day I felt stronger. I began to look forward to the class: to exercising, celebrating our success and supporting each other when bad things happened.
The stoic determination of the many people in the class who have become my friends and with whom I share this serious disease has inspired me to do everything I can to keep this terrible disease at bay.
Two years after finishing radiation therapy I still look forward to these classes at the "graduate" level. I have never felt more fit; I participated in that Run for the Cure after all! The support I have received physically and emotionally through this class has been second to none. I am so happy that I dragged myself to that first class, wondering what good this exercise would do me!
I was charter member of the UW WELL-FIT program. Our first class had fewer than six participants. The continued growth of the program is firm evidence of its importance to cancer patients in Waterloo Region.