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  1. #1
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    May 2010
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    After a several month layoff (second child born combined with new job w/ lots of hours), I ran about a month of linear progression and transitioned back to intermediate programming. My lifts weren't back to where they were before the layoff, but I was happy with where everything was going. Then I went to the doctor to get some abdominal discomfort that had been nagging me at night for several weeks. Found out (Labor
    Day weekend) it was a large (8 cm) mass pushing against my renal artery and vein on the left side, and that I had other masses consistent with lymphoma. Turned out to have advanced stage folicular lymphoma. Several surguries to biopsy the masses interrupted training, then we started 4 months of chemo. It was really aggressive, nasty four drug regimine (I was 47, which was young for this cancer, and otherwise healthy, so the lymphoma specialist I consulted recommended the aggressive route).

    Six treatments spread over four months. The first round wasn't too bad. I got nauseated the first week, but by week three I wasn't feeling too fatigued or sick. I actually tried to workout a bit, which was positive even if it felt fairly shitty. Round two was much worse, and they got progressively bad. I had to eat regularly or the nausea got worse, but I didn't want to eat anything other than the last week before the next treatment (and even by round five & six not even then). I felt so crappy and tired that I mostly laid in bed or on the sofa for a week after treatment, then two weeks, then all three. I couldn't even play with my kids (now 4 and 1) for the last couple rounds.

    I lost about 20 pounds, but even more of that in lean mass. Not eating much and being basically bedridden causes amazing losses of lean mass. I knew it would have some negative impact, but to experience it was eye opening.

    On March 4th I did some light rowing on an erg. I got 15 minutes in, felt like shit, was slower than I thought possible, but I didn't barf. My first lifting session was a couple days later. I was basically back to rank novice. In fact, looking back at my log book, when I was first a novice several years ago, I lifted more weight the first day than I did on this day. I got 95 pounds for 3 sets of 5 on the squat, pressed a rediculous 70 pounds, and deadlifted only 135 for 5. All I can say about that first day was, again, at least I didn't barf.

    I've basically run a novice linear progression, but lifted every third day with some light conditioning on the day before lift days (so condition, lift, off, condition, lift, off, and so on). At my age, I don't recover like I did, and I wanted the conditioning so that I could do some of the sports and activities I like to do. Other than a week for the flu and a bit of travel, I've made good progress, and am only now transitioning to advance novice. I've regained the weight and am now slowly trimming a bit of the fat I had accumulated (I wasn't skinny even with the chemo). While my lifts aren't back where I was, I found I'm maintaining better progress than when I ran the novice the first time through as a true novice.

    My PET scan came back with no sign of cancer, and while I will almost certainly have a relapse in 5 to 10 years (we'll knock it back with a less aggressive chemo, rinse, and repeat for decades), this is what we were aiming for an made the aggressive course of treatment worth it. With this cancer, life expectancy is in the decades range, but you need to treat it repeatedly).

    I wanted to thank you for Starting Strength, as I never though I never thought I'd need it again, it has given me back a capable body after being driven so low. I also learned just how important banking lean mass is and how quickly being bedridden and constantly nauseated can knock it down. I'm recommitted to making sure that as I age I'm giving myself every bit of strength and lean mass I can, and your novice program has helped me make a good start.

    Cheers,
    Dave

  2. #2
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    This is an important post. Thanks for sharing with us.

  3. #3
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    Standing ovation!!!

  4. #4
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    Dave, thank you for this post.

    It's one thing to read a research paper on resistance training for helping cancer survivors get their strength and lean mass back. It's quite another to see it on the level of a single individual, and to appreciate the courage and grit that the patient must bring to the bar to make it happen.

    I have as much respect for that 135 lb deadlift you pulled on your first day back as I do for a 600-lb pulled by some healthy kid in a college gym. More.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Iowa, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathon Sullivan View Post
    Dave, thank you for this post.

    It's one thing to read a research paper on resistance training for helping cancer survivors get their strength and lean mass back. It's quite another to see it on the level of a single individual, and to appreciate the courage and grit that the patient must bring to the bar to make it happen.

    I have as much respect for that 135 lb deadlift you pulled on your first day back as I do for a 600-lb pulled by some healthy kid in a college gym. More.
    It would have been even harder if I had not had the muscle memory of prior training, did not have the benefit of experiencing something approaching what a strong (not that I was ever going to play with the big boys) body was capable of and felt like to spur me to do something, and had not started the treatment with some banked strength and mass. It also helped to have to very young kids who I want to be able to do things with for a long, long time. I have friends and colleagues about my age who do not exercise, let alone strength train. I can see sliding into age-related infirmaties without the training background and know-how. You just don't bounce back and don't know that it could be otherwise.

    Pulling and squating 225 for the first time post treatment was a very encouraging moment for me. I had been making good progress, but putting two wheels on the bar and getting my set(s) of 5 really made it sink in that I was going to climb back up not just to where I had been, but beyond.

    Thanks for the kind words Rip, Brian, and Jonathon.

    Dave

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