Sunday, February 8, 2015

Green means go!

We all should know by now that exercise reduces risk of breast cancer and recurrence.  Study after study has proven this and even mainstream media has reported on it must be true:)  But is it possible to exercise TOO MUCH and INCREASE the risk, especially the risk of recurrence if you have already undergone treatment for breast cancer? Now, what sort of crazy person possibly exercises TOO much? In my opinion no one, but some may say you're lookin' at her!  I'm not just talking about exercising, I'm talking about doing epic things.  Prior to breast cancer my cycling career was gravitating toward challenging, ultra-endurance type events.  I competed in multi-day mountain bike stage races including TransAlp Challenge, TransRockies, and Breck Epic.  I raced ultra-distance events such as the Lumberjack 100 and Park City Point to Point.  In fact, the year of my diagnosis, I was planning to race the BC Bike Stage Race with a friend.  

Breast cancer changes things.  Although I have successfully returned to racing and even competed in some longer distance events (True Grit 50, Moab Rocks Stage Race), I haven't felt the gravitational pull to do ultras.  I have been feeling so good and believe I am physically capable.  And after undergoing cancer treatment twice, I KNOW I am mentally capable.  So why haven't I done any ultras?  I think in the back of my mind I have wondered if perhaps such grueling events are bad for my health.  Health comes first.    

Recently,  I have been feeling the urge to do something epic, and although I don't have a clear picture of what event(s) I want to do and how I will get there, I needed an answer.  Would this be detrimental to my health and increase my risk of recurrence?  The theory being too much or too intense of exercise causes inflammation in the body making the environment more favorable for cancer cells to proliferate.  I have had people I respect 'suggest' this to me. (Note: I have had many more people I respect say excessive/intense/extreme exercise is perfectly safe for me). Regardless, the thought that training and racing could possibly increase my risk for recurrence lingers in the back of my mind. To get a conclusive answer I contacted Dr. Melinda Irwin, Professor at Yale, who dedicates her profession to studying breast cancer and exercise. Note: Who knew it was so easy to find an email for a Yale professor and to get a response within a day!!!!!  

Dr. Irwin's response:

"Thank you for your email!!! Sounds like you are doing everything right!!! Since you have been active for many years, you can exercise at levels much higher than the average person…so you are less likely to experience any detrimental side effects of intense exercise. Any risks would simply be muscular injury related, but you are very likely lowering your risk for recurrence and mortality".

Basically Dr. Irwin just gave me the green light to do as I please with my cycling career!  

Hmmm.......dreaming of just so happens that this race is in January and in 2016 will be exactly 5 years from my original diagnosis....


  1. I am here cheering you on every step of the way! :)

    1. ....with a heavy heart and tear in my eye I'm cheering you on too:)

  2. Go get it!! You're such an inspiration.