Patty McWayne became depressed after being diagnosed with colon cancer in 2004. In 2013, Patty received an invitation to join the GET FIT trial, which aims to improve of the lives of women cancer survivors through regular exercise. This is her story.
My doctors helped me live a normal life after diagnoses of heart disease and diabetes in the 1990s, but I became depressed when diagnosed with colon cancer in 2004. The depression was enough to slow me down at work, while also crippling my self-confidence and sense of purpose. I positioned myself on the couch with the remote control and the wrong kind of food, even though I knew the lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits would affect my health again. I was scared. For years, I struggled with bad eating habits, obesity and a total lack of exercise.
In late spring of 2013, I received a letter inviting me to participate in a GET FIT clinical trial, which was aimed to learn more about exercise for women cancer survivors between the ages of 50 and 70. I said, “Yes,” hoping it would help me regain a healthy lifestyle.
The trial included a bi-weekly strength training program, along with regular monitoring and testing by the School of Nursing staff. Slowly, I began to incorporate the workouts into my regular routine and understand the connections between balance, strength and agility, as well as the connections between weight, blood pressure and blood sugar. I had read about good health for years. During the GET FIT Trial, I began to live it.
The instructor was the best I’ve experienced; she taught me how to work my body in ways I couldn’t accomplish in the past.
Best of all, I was given the opportunity to work out with a group of women cancer survivors. We had physical and psychological bonds in common, and the spirit of those classes will be with me forever.
Now, I’ve lost 20 pounds with more to go. I’ve cut most of my medications in half. My cholesterol and blood pressure levels are normal. My heart is beating normally. I can walk longer distances and up steep hills. I no longer have a difficult time getting to sleep at night, rarely have leg cramps, and eat a whole lot more fruits and vegetables. I even read more and watch less television.
Quality doctors and professional health educators make all the difference in a positive health experience. I am grateful to the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, the School of Nursing and Oregon Health & Science University for helping me regain my health and positive attitude. They helped me get me off the couch and out into the sun—and sometimes the rain.
This experience has changed my life.
Matt Wastradowski is a Communications Specialist for the Knight Cancer Institute.