How I’m Going to Continue Beating My Cancer in 2019
In just a few months, I’ll begin my 16th year as a cancer survivor. It’s been both a short and a long time. Short in the sense that life passes so quickly and long because of the 6-month blood tests looking for possible recurrence: 25 of them so far.
Cancer Defense Tools
Medical science know how cancer grows and the environment that helps it grow, but not the exact trigger thats starts it. My prostate cancer may have come from Agent Orange exposure during my two tours of duty in Vietnam. But I also think that my family is genetically vulnerable. My father and mother died of lung cancer. My oldest sister succumbed to pancreatic cancer and my youngest sister became a Stage 3 breast cancer survivor in 2018.
Causes? My father and mother were both lifelong smokers, as was my older sister. My younger sister, however, has been fit and a vegetarian for the past 20 years.
Here’s what I learned about cancer over the past 15+ years:
- The cause is pretty much unknown
- Factors like smoking and being overweight appear to be contributing factors
- National cancer organization research suggests that one third of all cancer can be prevented through lifestyle changes
- Exercise and healthy eating habits – those vegetables that our parents tried to get us to eat – control weight and support a health immune system, which is the body’s key defense against cancer
- Stress leads to chronic inflammation, which has also been linked to cancer
So, we have three anti-cancer tools within our control are . . .
- What we eat (and how much)
- Exercise levels
- Our mental state
My 2019 Cancer Battle Plan
I’m a retired Army guy so I think in terms of beating the enemy, in this case cancer. We create battle plans in the Army by first knowing as much as we can about the enemy and then looking for weak spots in their defenses. In cancer’s case, those weak spots are the three points above.
My 2019 Cancer Nutritional Plan
I was really good with my diet in the first 10 years of my cancer survivorship. I dropped my weight to pretty much optimal – about 150 pounds on a 5′ 10″ slender frame. But, the last two years I’ve been working more and slipped into some old habits and I’m now at 159 pounds. Way too much.
I did a lot of reading over the the past year and I’m switching my eating program to include lots of vegetables and beating my sugar cravings. I’ll be posting my results and recipes here on the website.
My 2019 Cancer Exercise Plan
I love bicycling and walking. I got back on my bike after my treatment in 2003 and since then I have ridden 32,639.65 miles – roughly 2,000 miles a year. Many cyclists ride more that that, but those miles kept me fit and played a key role in calming my mental state. Riding takes my mind away from cancer and work-related stress and lets me enjoy the scenery and word around me. My 2019 goal is 2,400 miles and competing again in the Masters World Track Cycling Championships in Manchester, England.
Exercise element number two is yoga. I’ve been doing one 90-minute class every Saturday morning and it’s fantastic. It’s all about flexibility and body weight training in a calm and quiet atmosphere.
Finally, I’m getting back into the gym twice per week, although you can do almost everything I do in the gym at home using body weight exercises. I’ll post some of those exercises here on the website as well. I love the gym because it has a sauna and steam room.
My 2019 Cancer Mental Plan
The final element of my 2019 Cancer Battle Plan is getting my mental stress under better control. 2018 was a super busy year with work, the 2018 Tour de USA® for Prostate Cancer, managing the non-profit, and I need to do much better in 2019. I’m going to be focusing on integrating meditation into my schedule. I’m not sure how I’ll do it, but I’ll keep you posted here.
What’s Your 2019 Cancer Battle Plan?
If you’re a cancer survivor like me, cancer recurrence is almost always in the back of your mind. There’s certainly no guarantee that any of the elements of my cancer battle plan will prevent cancer recurrence, but it gives me a sense of control, along with knowing that I’m putting my body in the best possible shape to resist cancer if it shows up again.
Follow Along With Me In 2019
If you are a cyclist or runner, you can connect with me on Strava.com and join our Around the World Challenge. I record almost all of my activities there and we have weekly winners for miles and altitude.
I’ve also recently joined Zwift.com and you can find me there as Robert Hess. But, Zwift has a monthly fee. I’m also on MapMyRide and MapMyWalk, which have free apps.
Best wishes for 2019 and I hope you take a few minutes and plan our your own 2019 cancer battle plan.
Prostate Cancer Survivor, Class of 2003
Cancer hates a fit body. Let’s Walk!
Walking is easy and one of the ways cancer survivors help their body defend against cancer. One January 1, 2018, my wife and I began a tradition of a New Year’s Day walk to set the tone for our coming fitness year. This year we visited Paramount Ranch in the Santa Monica mountains north of Los Angeles. If you have a similar tradition, I’d love to hear about it and publish it here on the website for the Cancer Journeys community. Send us a note at Walks @ CancerJourneysFoundation.org.
Click on the image below to see my exercise history from 2017. Those hours and miles were great for my fitness and peace of mind. Join me in 2018!