Breast Cancer has changed my fitness ideas to another level
Hi, my name’s Karen and I am a
Breast Cancer survivor, a member at Fernwood Darwin and I have just completed
my 'Certificate III in Fitness' through Fernwood Learning.
In March 2012, at the age of 37 married with 3 young children, my life was turned upside down. I went for a routine mammogram and ultrasound following my 40 year old sister's breast cancer diagnosis. On the 20th March 2012, my GP shattered me with the news "It is Breast Cancer". I had a 7mm, Grade 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma tumour and extensive pre-invasive cancer cells to the ducts which had possibly been there since my late 20s! My tumour was Hormone Receptor positive, but unfortunately HER2 Positive making the cancer more aggressive requiring 6 cycles of chemotherapy and Herceptin treatment every 3 weeks for 12 months. I had a total of 8 hospital admissions, including 6 operations. This included a double mastectomy with reconstruction. I continue on medication for 10 years to block the effects of hormones and further reduce my risk of recurrence.
I’m now focusing on my next breast cancer treatment in line to help with the management of the side effects I have experienced since my diagnosis. Regular exercise improves both physical and emotional health which is beneficial for general wellbeing. Exercise has shown to provide these benefits and improve women’s health and quality of life, including reducing fatigue, improving moods and management of depression, anxiety, pain, lymphedema, sleep, bone health, menopause and maintain a healthy weight. Research supports regular exercise reducing the risk of Breast Cancer recurrence by 24% and can reduce the risk of developing Breast Cancer in those fortunate enough who have not been diagnosed with this disease.
Fernwood has a very supportive relationship with Breast Cancer Network Australia, a national organisation who provides free information and support to Australians affected by breast cancer. Earlier this year I was fortunate to have received 1 of 10 scholarships offered to Breast Cancer Survivors in Australia. The on-line course was easy to follow and I was well supported by staff at Fernwood Learning (Melbourne) and Fernwood (Darwin). Attending the weekend intensive gave me the opportunity to meet other students with similar interests and to develop fitness programs in a safe learning environment. I enjoyed studying the 'Certificate III in fitness' as whilst it kept my brain ticking, it also kept me physically active. Long-term I would like to run fitness classes to Darwin's breast cancer community whilst maintaining my own fitness at Fernwood Darwin.