Andy J
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Exercise, feeling sorry for myself and regaining a sense of perspective

Andy J
Posted by
12 Aug 2015

Yesterday I went for my first run in the best part of two months and whilst I coughed and spluttered my way round for a couple of miles I felt instantly better for doing it.

I've been struggling with fatigue a lot over the past few weeks and have also been a lot more up and down than usual. Whilst one run isn't going to solve either of these problems it has given me an instant lift and reminded me just how important exercise is for patients and the general public alike.

Gentle to moderate exercise releases endorphins which give you an instant mood lift while getting the blood pumping and giving the lungs a bit of a work out is also recommended to chronic leukaemia sufferers as a way of helping to alleviate the symptoms of lethargy and general fatigue.

In my personal situation since my diagnosis with pulmonary fibrosis it's also really important to help boost the areas of my lung that are still functioning correctly. Improving their efficiency will make me feel like I have a greater lung capacity than I actually have. So all in all it's a bit of a no brainer that I do a bit of aerobic exercise whenever possible.

The only trouble is that I haven't been doing that all that often and have struggled for motivation. I could reel out the usual excuses about being too busy to get out there but ultimately the stumbling block is more deep rooted than that and besides what can possibly be a bigger priority than my own health especially after everything I've been through?

The reality is that I've been dodging the running because every time I get out there I'm reminded of my new found limitations. Sport has always been a big part of my life and the fact that I now can't play football with my mates or do anything competitvely is something I've really struggled to come to terms with.

I've been feeling angry, cheated and a little sorry for myself. Angry that I can't do what I used to. Cheated because, in my head, it's yet another part of my life that the leukaemia has taken away from me along with the best of my uni years and, potentially, my fertility. And sorry for myself because after years of running marathons to raise money to help beat blood cancer one of the few outlets I had to channel my frustrations and make a difference in the fight against blood cancer has seemingly been taken away from me. 

However whilst many, if not all, of these points are true they don't change the situation that I'm in at the moment and it took hearing about the passing of an extraordinary AML transplant patient, Kamal Aftab, for me to regain a sense of perspective. The fact I can no longer run the length of the country and possibly not have children pale in significance to what Kamal's family are now going through and I am embarrassed to have felt so sorry for myself. 

That's why yesterday I laced up my trainers and I got back on the road again. Granted it was only 20 minutes and at a much slower pace than I ever used to run but it felt good.

Life is full of challenges and I've been through alot in my 30 years but I've beaten worse than this and I'm going to have to rise to this challenge or constantly feel sorry for myself which doesn't sound like much fun. Besides, who apart from myself says I can't eventually do another marathon? I do love a challenge!

Good luck to everyone facing their own challenges and don't forget to exercise whenever you can even if it's just doing a few laps of the hospital corridor.

Read Andy's story to find out more about his battle with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia

Comments

12.08.2015

Great blog, as ever, Andy.  I feel sorry for myself if I lose a toenail running, so don't give yourself too much of a hard time!

Anonymous
12.08.2015

Dear Andy,

Kamal was a close friend of mine. He would have been touched by your words. As his brother Yousaf mentioned in Kamal's obituary, he died weak in body, but stronger than ever in spirit; the one thing that disease cannot take away from us. Keep your chin up, mate - you're doing very well. All the best.

Adam

12.08.2015

You're a real inspiration Andy. You've already achieved herculean things so don't be too hard on yourself!

12.08.2015

I admire your honesty and determination Andy. You're an inspiration mate.

Anonymous
12.08.2015

Andy, you recently spent the 20 th of June with 100 + people who love you for your strength battling all of the hurdles with your health over the last 11 years. You are a strong amazing man who inspires the people around you and if you can't run a marathon like before who cares! Your commitment to others happiness ( in particular you wife and family) make us all proud! Xx