When I was diagnosed with stage 4b Hodgkin’s lymphoma in June 2018 and was told I had to have 6 months of intense chemotherapy, I felt like my whole wide had turned upside down. I remember thinking I wouldn’t have the strength to look after my one-year old daughter, Marnie.
Then, I came across a woman on YouTube who was body building whilst on chemo and it helped lessen her side effects and strengthen her body. So, I thought if she can do it, I can do it!
About two months into my chemotherapy treatment, I decided I was going to start running.
I was afraid that my body wouldn’t be able to deal with it and that it would put too much pressure on it. So, I spoke with my haematologist, who gave me the go-ahead.
When it came to my first run, I felt tired and, to be honest, I felt like I had no energy in me to go running. But, I put in some headphones and listened to some music and just concentrated on running forward, running towards a better healthier life, for me it felt good…I felt alive!
I did have to stop a few times and some of it I had to walk, but I told myself that was ok. I didn’t give myself a hard time for it, in fact I thanked my body for putting up with everything it was going through.
The more I started running, the more I could tell that it was actually making me feel a lot better in myself and in my body. I found that running reduces my anxiety, improves my mood and makes me feel stronger.
The other concern I had before starting was what would people think if they saw me running, as I have unfortunately lost all my hair! Would everyone’s instant thought be “she has cancer!”?
But, you know what? I don’t actually care what others think, I am doing this for me!
I tend to go running early in the morning before my partner leaves for work, so he can look after our daughter, that way I can build it into my everyday routine. If I miss my early morning run due to feeling extra tired because of the treatment, then I try and do a night time run before bed.
I am currently having my chemotherapy every two weeks. For the first week after my chemo I am getting over the side effects of the drugs and can’t do any exercise. But, as the drugs start to wear off I increase my activities and I am able to get back to my running in the second week.
I totally understand that everyone reacts differently to being on chemotherapy and some people physically can’t do any exercise what so ever, but for me running has really helped. During my good week I almost feel back to my normal self. Even when I felt terrible I would still try to get out for a long, brisk walk and I really do think it helps me feel stronger.
I think that people on chemotherapy tend to be portrayed more as sedentary and, after my diagnosis, this made me feel weaker that I actually was!
A lot of the time our human nature is to automatically think we can’t do something. Taking up running has helped me in so many ways, and given me such a positive attitude, now I’m always thinking ‘what can I do?’.
Once I’ve finished with my chemotherapy I want to start training for my first half marathon. It’s amazing how baby steps of brisk walks and gentle jogging can evolve into inspiring me to do this!
I always live with the fear that my cancer may return so I want to turn the fear into motivation for keeping fit.
If you’ve been inspired by Megan’s story, find out how to get started with running and jogging.