I was in a study on exercise for breast cancer survivors for 2 years. It was a very controlled group of exercises that we did for the sake of the study. After the study ended, some of the benefits, besides increase in balance, mobility and strength were the shared camaraderie and support with each other twice a week. We pleaded with the study facilitators to find more grant money and continue our exercise class. Although they were not able to fully fund the exercise class they were able to combine to one exercise group women breast cancer survivors and men prostate survivors that were part of another arm of the initial study.
The men's group was very close. We were meeting where their study had taken place, on their turf in their early morning time slot. The guys would meet before class and after over coffee and once a month for more lengthy discussion, touch base Tuesday. During class they all talked with each other and back to the teacher. Since we were all rather fit, the class turned into an aggressive and challenging exercise class. Who would have thought that a group of men would be so noisy with hilarious back talk? Another rep of crunches would produce groans but also recriminations to the instructor like “You are killing me” or “No, No, Nooooo”.
Slowly but surely we women insinuated ourselves into the men's coffee times and discussions. Twice a week we solve all our problems and those of the world. If one of us misses more than one class, we have a phone tree set up to call or email to see what is going on. It better be a good reason like winning in Vegas and not ‘I’m too busy’. We have all been through cancer with surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation so sore muscles are no reason to miss class!
The early time slot in rush hour traffic sometimes tested my resolve, but once I was there and welcomed by my fellow classmates I got over the griping of the drive. The rigors of the class initially had me almost weeping at night from muscle pain. My quads would sometimes burn that doing the commode hover at a public restroom was out of the question!
We are all cancer survivors in the class and face some lasting side effects that only other survivors fully understand. What started as a study in the effects of exercise on bone health in breast cancer and prostate cancer survivors (a good thing), turned into a sociological study. Cancer survivors will support and care about each other while also trying to achieve optimum health!