Healthy hur­cles

Fitmess beb­n­mes su­ruiunrs' ’ or­in­rity

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Her Fitness - By Lim­c­sey Wells

M ak­ing it through treatment and sur­viv­ing cancer are two ma­jor ac­com­plish­ments for any cancer pa­tient, and many sur­vivors’ top pri­or­ity be­comes their health and do­ing ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to keep the cancer from re­turn­ing.

Cancer sur­vivors Martha Rice and Sharon Glo­ria both took up ex­er­cis­ing af­ter re­ceiv­ing their clean bills of health and say ex­er­cise is a form of treatment it­self. They both at­tend fit­ness classes at FBC Fit­ness, the fit­ness and re­cre­ation pro­gram at First Bap­tist Church.

Rice was di­ag­nosed with breast cancer 22 years ago at the age of 54. She said she couldn’t be­lieve it be­cause no one in her fam­ily had ever had breast cancer.

“Ev­ery­thing had al­ways gone right. I was healthy and had kept my weight down and rea­son­able and taught school for 25 years. Se­nior spon­sor, ju­nior spon­sor, prom, you know, I did ev­ery­thing, worked the ball­games, and the cancer threw me for a loop,” she said.

Though no form of cancer is pleas­ant, Rice said that if you could pick which kind of cancer to get, she got the “best one” be­cause it was non­in­va­sive. She had surgery in Lit­tle Rock to re­move it, fol­lowed by six weeks of ra­di­a­tion for pre­ven­tive mea­sures.

As soon as her doc­tor re­leased her from ra­di­a­tion she be­gan train­ing for Race for the Cure. She said she had never been phys­i­cally ac­tive be­fore her cancer di­ag­no­sis.

“There was a gym at the school I taught at but I never thought I had time to go,” she said. “But when you have a chronic ill­ness or some­thing bad hap­pens to you, you find time be­cause you know that your health and the Lord is the only one that is go­ing to get you through it. So that’s when I started.”

Rice started at­tend­ing First Bap­tist Church and joined FBC Fit­ness when it was com­pleted. She was tak­ing classes five days a week be­fore she started de­vel­op­ing com­pli­ca­tions in her feet from years of wear­ing high heels.

“Be­fore my surgery I told them I was go­ing to have to have surgery on my feet and they en­cour­aged it be­cause I was re­ally hav­ing prob­lems. I had to be taught how to go up and down the stairs on my bot­tom be­cause I could not be walk­ing up the stairs or down the stairs,” she said. “They took care of me there. And they con­stantly, in ev­ery one of the classes, they taught bal­ance. As you get older your bal­ance is re­ally im­por­tant and you just have to learn bal­ance or you don’t sur­vive.

“Another rea­son why the classes are so en­joy­able, you meet so

many peo­ple and it’s a dif­fer­ent kind of en­vi­ron­ment. You get used to see­ing all the same peo­ple at all the same classes. They’re just there, and they’re nice peo­ple to be around. I did not ever feel that I was not safe there. Be­cause I was a widow, I had to walk in safe places and the fit­ness cen­ter and the track was the place for me to feel that com­fort and safety.”

Glo­ria was di­ag­nosed with stage 4 breast cancer over 15 years ago. She un­der­went a mas­tec­tomy, 36 ra­di­a­tion treat­ments and eight chemo­ther­apy treat­ments.

“The thought never re­ally oc­curred to me that it was a death sen­tence. I’m a to­tally op­ti­mistic per­son so I’m think­ing to my­self, ‘ This is another hur­dle and I’m go­ing to beat it,’” she said. “I just faced it head on and we did ex­actly what the doc­tor said.”

Dur­ing her last two chemo treat­ments, the strong­est doses, Glo­ria said her doc­tor told her the chemo was go­ing to af­fect her joints and “prob­a­bly set­tle in her bones.”

“My knees were my down­fall. I could climb like three steps and my knees would just kill me and I’d have to stop and I couldn’t go on. I went along with that for years, and in 2012 I could hardly nav­i­gate any stairs, so my hus­band went to First Bap­tist gym and he came home and he said, ‘You know, this is re­ally a good place, we need to try this.’

“I started go­ing, reluc­tantly, be­cause I’ve never been a phys­i­cal, ac­tive per­son. I be­gan to, af­ter a while, I be­gan to see that it was help­ing my knee joints and in­stead of just break­ing down and hav­ing to stop ev­ery five steps, I was walk­ing and do­ing moder­ate ex­er­cises.”

At the same time, Glo­ria’s 8-yearold grand­daugh­ter, Ha­ley, was di­ag­nosed with brain cancer. She said the gym at First Bap­tist was her “sanc­tu­ary” dur­ing this time. She said it not only helped her phys­i­cal side ef­fects, it also helped her spir­i­tu­ally and men­tally.

“We would go in the af­ter­noon and walk. I’ve walked miles and miles and miles around that track, pray­ing for my grand­daugh­ter. In that process I be­gan to see a heal­ing of my own self, phys­i­cally and men­tally,” she said. “Our grand­daugh­ter was 13 last week, she’s been in re­mis­sion five years, which is a big mile­stone. She also has side ef­fects, of course, so she goes to the gym with us oc­ca­sion­ally when she can to help with her ther­apy.

“I will be 71 this year and when we reach a cer­tain age you re­al­ize if you don’t take care of your­self, by the time you reach 75, you’re go­ing to be down. Sit­ting is the new cancer,” she said. “Cancer side ef­fects are so lin­ger­ing. They go on for years and it never ever is re­ally done. You can still pin­point any­thing that’s go­ing on with you back to when they had to put that poi­son in your body, so any­thing that you can do to make your­self phys­i­cally, men­tally bet­ter, that’s what you need to do.”

Visit http://www.fbcrecre­ation. com for a list of classes and ameni­ties at FBC Fit­ness.

Martha Rice, right, stretches dur­ing her Se­nior Stretch class at First Bap­tist Church.

Sharon Glo­ria, left, ex­er­cises dur­ing her Se­nior Stretch class at First Bap­tist Church.

Sharon Glo­ria dur­ing her Se­nior on Strength class at First Bap­tist Church.

Martha Rice dur­ing her Se­nior Stretch class at First Bap­tist Church.

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