"Bob, the X-ray of your neck shows lytik lesions. You have bone cancer."

Those two sentences spoken by my physician led to almost 2 weeks of personal despair, anxiety and depression. Instead of leaving for a cruise in 3 days, a pinched nerve problem had uncovered a form of cancer known as multiple myeloma.

Upon treatment, I experienced a 7 week outbreak of shingles on my neck, back and shoulder. In addition to the continuing nerve damage, the inactivity caused by the sheer pain of shingles led to a serious loss of muscle strength and stamina. Multiple myeloma itself causes a weakening of muscle strength and the primary chemo drug, Velcade, has a side effect of reducing both strength and stamina. This resulted in a reduced ‘quality of life’ that would not return until I enrolled in the UW WELL-FIT program.

Simply stated, participation in the UW WELL-FIT program has restored the ‘quality of life’ factor in my daily life. My improved life is based on a simple concept: exercise. Probably hard to believe that a carefully structured exercise program is the key ingredient in what is basically a mind-body recovery.

I now understand and appreciate the crucial impact of the exercise regimes developed for Bob’s 70 year old illness-wracked body. Those exercise programs are the single, secret ingredient in the return of my quality of life. Before enrolling in UW WELL-FIT, I could not walk up stairs without using a railing for support and leverage. A simple walk around the block was impossible on some days and always seemed like a marathon. Of course, wobbly Bob could not ride his bike – the ultimate personal curse of this illness.

Well, I now ride my bike at least 12 km without problems, can climb stairs easily (even carrying things) and can walk uptown with my wife without having to use a cane or sit on a bench every two blocks.

What is UW WELL-FIT? It started with an assessment of my physical status that was used to devise a series of exercises tailored to my abilities and needs. UW WELL-FIT is staffed by professionals who, in addition to the basic program, also provide continuous support and encouragement. At UW WELL-FIT, you are never alone!

And finally, UW WELL-FIT offered me the opportunity to socialize with other cancer patients during the session. Exercise is the foundation of my mind-body recovery and there are probably physical measures that could show the link but I don’t care because each day I feel and live the recovery.