Exercise during Cancer Treatment by Carla DeSimone

Posted in Blog by bporte
14 Mar 2015

“It was a pleasure working with Carla.  Not only was she sensitive to what I had been through with having had breast cancer, a mastectomy, and the development of lymphedema in my left arm, but she developed an exercise program that was not overwhelming.  Incorporating a physio ball made it all seem like fun. I do the exercises while watching TV and barely realize that I’m exercising.”
~Robin, one of Carla’s clients


I was recently present in my sister-in-law’s hospital room when her doctor strolled in and gave her a very blunt diagnosis of gall bladder cancer.  Several members of our family were present while she waited for test results.


Needless to say, we were all shocked, and it took several days for this to sink in for us and mostly her.


Once a diagnosis of Cancer is given, everyone’s first reaction is to treat the cancer as fast as you can either with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of all of those.  What no one thinks about is exercise during cancer.


Of course, when many people think of exercise, they think of heavy-duty, blood-pumping, sweat-inducing exercise, but that is not the only definition of exercise.  There are many forms of exercise that are not that extreme.


Once a diagnosis of cancer is given, there are many factors that will determine the outcome of the treatment.  The best thing a cancer patient can do to get the best outcome is to be proactive.  This is easier said then done since the shock of a cancer diagnosis can have all sorts of emotional affects.


Of course for me, when I heard my sister-in-law’s diagnosis, my brain immediately started to plan a strategy for keeping her as strong as possible so she could face her treatment head-on and be physically ready for whatever was going to come her way.  A good combination of diet and exercise along with her medical treatment plan was her best option for a good outcome.


Cancer cells feed on acid.  There have been many studies that show that all of us have the potential to get cancer.  What we feed our bodies can determine if we get cancer or not.  By eating a more alkaline diet, we can decrease acidity in the body and starve the cancer cells.  You would be surprised what foods are acidic and which are alkaline.  A warm cup of lemon water each morning with a teaspoon of baking soda is a wonderful way to keep the body alkaline.  Attached is a very basic chart that is good to be familiar with.


Keeping the body strong is vital for anyone undergoing cancer treatment.  Since there is usually a good amount of weight loss, loss of appetite, extreme exhaustion and emotional distress, exercise is not foremost on the patient’s mind.  But, exercises that have the patient moving around and getting the blood pumping will do wonders for body and mind.  Of course, appropriate exercises and movements must be executed.  You don’t want to over work a patient going through treatment especially if they were a non-exerciser before their diagnosis.  Picking a qualified and compassionate trainer is key for optimal results.


Patients who have had lymph nodes removed or who are undergoing radiation especially need to keep the lymphatic fluids flowing through the body. Once even one little lymph node is removed or radiation is administered, there is a chance that a cancer patient can get lymphedema for the rest of their life.  Exercises that pump the lymphatic fluid through the body are essential for the reduction and avoidance of lymphedema.  Even gently bouncing on an exercise ball is very helpful in moving lymph through the body.


Cancer is life changing.  How it changes your life is up to you!


Carla DeSimone

Certified Personal Trainer

Cancer Exercise Specialist

Make a Pact For Life Instructor

MELT Instructor