I Have Stage IV Breast Cancer: Why Go to the Gym?

One word... endorphins!

I was first diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2006 at the age of 46. At that point, it had already spread to my lymph nodes requiring me to undergo chemotherapy, radiation as well as having a bilateral mastectomy. 2006 seems like a lifetime ago, but at the same time, I feel like I've spent so many years with cancer at the forefront of my life. The fear of recurrence began to dwindle just as the cancer recurred.

After my first go-around (combined with 15 breast reconstructive surgeries), I had gained some weight. I was pretty upset that the chemo didn't cause me to lose weight. I was also disappointed that when my hair grew back, it was not curly, which would have been the opposite of my original straightness that I had heard might happen.

I've had issues like millions with weight most of my life, but I have also been a runner most of my life. I love running. It has been the key to any weight loss I've ever had. And, after being declared cancer-free in 2007, I began my quest to get back in shape again.

Because of my reunion with a college friend, I signed up for a half marathon with her and one of my daughters. I trained for nine months, lost 30 pounds and ran my first race. I had a blast and I felt so good, inside and out. I immediately signed up for another, and then another. I was looking pretty good and decided that I was ready for the big one. Again, I began training and nine months later, instead of addressing a pain in my lower back (I thought it was sciatica), I ignored it for a few months before finding the cancer had returned and ate a chunk of my pelvic bone.

It was last October when I found out about the recurrence. I am now a Stage IV Breast Cancer survivor. Radiation took care of the two spots of cancer on both sides of the pelvis and surgery removed a small lymph node in my neck.

The bottom line is that I spent sox months on the couch (I had to use a walker for fear of shattering my bones) and put on about 20 pounds. couldn't run the marathon, but my other daughter took my place and ran the 26.2 miles for me (she was just a beginner).

My orthopedic surgeon and radiation oncologist both told me my running days were over. They were wrong. In January, I was cleared to ride a stationary bike and use an elliptical trainer. May is almost over. I have begun to run again... not fast and not far, but I have started. I also am using a stair climbing machine, which is major cardio. I start to sweat in five minutes. It's awesome.

I have a few more pounds I need to lose, but I'm on my way. My therapy now is hormonal. My oncologist said I could live for years even if I need to have chemo therapy once a week until a new drug is found. I believe there will be.

I will tell you this... exercise makes you feel good! You can live with Stage IV cancer and live well. I've concluded that I can either sit at home and watch TV feeling sorry for myself or I can get my ass to the gym and feel good about myself. As long as I am able to, I will get my ass to the gym. I have already signed up for next year's half marathon with my friends and family. If for some reason I can't do it, so be it. I'm not looking to acquire the body of a 30-year-old. I'm now 54 and I have the body of a 54-year-old. I just know that working out gives me strength to go on fighting.

I'm not suggesting that everyone with Stage IV cancer sign up for a half marathon. I'm saying that if you can exercise at all, you should. You will feel better if you do.

That's why even with Stage IV Breast Cancer, I go to the gym!

For more information about Lisa Masters visit: www.build-a-boob.com