PUBLISHED ON: 25 March 2019

Exercise helped Jackie move forward from her diagnosis. In a series of short clips, she shares her top tips for exercising both during and after treatment.

  1. Meet Jackie
  2. Building fitness
  3. Worried about injury
  4. Setting goals
  5. Trying new things with a friend

1. Meet Jackie

Exercise got me out into the fresh air during treatment and became a vital part of my self-care routine.

Before breast cancer, I didn’t own lycra and had never worn a running vest. I never thought a woman with a bald head, PICC line and hip full of metal from a previous pelvic surgery would turn to exercise, but building up from walking to running to my first-ever race helped me take control of my body. I called it my life insurance policy.

When I reflect back over treatment, I rarely think about the surgery or the chemotherapy. I think about just how far I’ve come.

2. Building fitness

When you are going through treatment, sometimes just the thought of exercise can make it hard to get started.

After a mastectomy and DIEP reconstruction surgery, I remember taking things slowly. I started walking on a small stretch of path. I would increase the amount of steps on this path every day. When I felt stronger, I walked further and started marking my progress by counting the number of lampposts I passed.

Making exercise part of my daily routine helped me move forward and made sure I opened that front door every day, even when I didn’t feel like getting out of bed.

3. Worried about injury

I was so worried about injuring myself when out exercising. I spent a lot of time finding ways to avoid hurting myself.

By choosing wireless exercise bras that held me in place and didn’t aggravate my scars and finding the right trainers to building up the distance in small stages, I was able to keep moving.

It was always slow, but I was always going in the right direction. Just remember, just being outside and trying means you’re lapping everyone on the sofa.

4. Setting goals

The only exercise I’ve ever regretted is the exercise that I decided didn’t need to happen. From a drop of rain to a dirty kit, I know all the excuses in the book. But I also know how frustrating it is not to be physically able to exercise when your body lets you down.

My tips for keeping moving are to plan in your exercise sessions and to set achievable goals. Training for my first 10k on chemotherapy and a Pink Ribbon Walk gave me focus as well as an opportunity to give back.

5. Trying new things with a friend

A change of scenery can do wonders for your exercise plans. I tried my first-ever trail run through the New Forest this year and it was so great to be out in nature looking after my body. The best bit? Exercising with a friend.

I have had running dates with mates, never miss a spin class when I book with a friend, and races have always been that little bit more rewarding when you are side by side with someone who makes you smile.

I have realised that you can go a long way when you have the right people by your side. Find your team and you’ll be amazed at just how far you go.

This year, I celebrate five years since my diagnosis. I feel happier and healthier than ever and I know that has a lot to do with exercise.

Whether you start by walking down the road, jogging through the park or just taking the stairs, may exercise give you a reason to smile and an opportunity to prioritise you. And just remember, when you move forward you will help inspire others to do the same.

Jackie is completing five challenges for five charities this year, including Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now. Visit her fundraising page for more information. 

Take part in a Pink Ribbon Walk in association with Skechers to show your support for everyone affected by breast cancer.

Pink Ribbon Walk