This post was written with the same emotions I was feeling in the story I am telling, I was scared and nervous to begin with but proud and stronger at the finish.
In September 2012, I had a lumpectomy, thankfully for me everything in the surgery was ok. I was only 20 at the time and in my final year of Sport & Exercise Management in UCD, it was pretty stressed with thesis and the total shock that something like this could happen at such a young age, I naively thought I wouldn’t have to worry about anything like this until much later in life.
I had been competitive rowing all of the summer leading up to my surgery, and thankfully this meant I was at my peak physical fitness pre surgery and it definitely aided my recover. I also found training was my number one method of de-stressing and distracting from the upcoming surgery.
While the surgery went well, I can’t say that the recovery was easy. Every step I took sent pain up my arm and all through my chest, it was hard to breath, to sleep. I didn’t want to eat as I was on so may pain killers my stomach was in bits. And I couldn’t workout, or at least, I thought I couldn’t. One of my first questions after surgery was “When can I get back in the gym?”, disappointingly I was advised to take 6-10 weeks off to allow scar tissue to heal, also due to nerve ending irritation it was too painful to do any cardio or weights training anyway.
I felt totally lost, my method of de-stressing was gone. Also my routine was all off, I had been rowing day in, day out, then all of a sudden there was no exercise at all. I approached one of my lecturers in college about what I could and couldn’t/shouldn’t do and he recommended that I try Pilates. This was totally alien to me, in my head I thought ok this is just a stretching class but its better than doing nothing so I’ll give it a go. Oh My God was I wrong.
No – I am not about to tell you I did my first class and I loved it and it cured me and everything was sunshine and rainbows there after. Quite the opposite at the start, I hated it. I hated that I found the “stretching class” hard, I hated that there were moves that meant I had to move my left arm away from the left side of my body and my protective shield was away from my sore patch.
Then something happened, later that day I felt looser, and that evening I slept just a little better, not 100% but it was bit more comfortable. It wasn’t a dramatic difference, but it was enough to convince me to try it again. I went to another class later that week, and this time I actually enjoyed it.
Yes, I couldn’t do everything, and I kept forgetting to breath, but I definitely felt a little better after the class. Aside from feeling a bit happier and looser, I also loved being part of a group of people who were all feeling equally challenged in class. That’s the thing about Pilates, no matter how long you have done it 1 class or 100 classes, it is always challenging as it works all ranges of intensities and all muscle groups. (and it is definitely not just a stretching class!)
When I began training in Platinum Pilates, I first completed a movement assessment with Hayley Killen, who is Pink Ribbon Pilates Certified. In the movement assessment, we found a few tight points (particularly my shoulders) and she showed me some of the most amazing stretches I have ever done, most of which I can do at home but a number of moves were done on the Reformer Machine and I absolutely loved them. Since then I have slowly but surely built myself all the way up to Level 2 classes and finally feel like I can do full workouts without even thinking about my chest and shoulders.
I still go for check ups every 3-6 months, but I have come to the point where I actually nearly forget to make my appointments because finally, I can go days at a time without thinking about my chest and I so rarely feel pain that I actually forget all about the lumps and the surgery, it really is amazing to be able to say that.
I know every body is different, and I had quite a high fitness level before my surgery and I also did not have to have any treatment or lymph’s removed post surgery, I just wanted to share my journey and how Pilates helped me regain my confidence and strength in my chest and upper body.
Becoming a Breast Cancer Rehabilitative Exercise Specialist
With three of our teachers fully certified, Platinum are the largest Pink Ribbon Program Provider in Ireland.
Here are some of the main benefits of the Pink Ribbon Pilates Program
Regain Strength and Mobility in Affected Shoulder & Arm
Promotes Lymphatic Drainage, Helping to Prevent Lymphedema
Improves Functional Ability & Quality of Life
Enhances & Restores Energy Levels
Assists in Restoring Posture
Decreases Stress & Anxiety
Alleviates Pain & Swelling
Free Breast Checks
For the whole month of October Hospitals all over the country are offering free Breast Checks, get yourself checked out, the tests only take about 20-30 minutes.