A pair of running leggings surrounded by confetti.

Medically Cleared for Exercise

During my first appointment with my new dermatologist in February 2021, she decided to take a biopsy of my “ugly bump”. This was a surprise to me because I thought that biopsies were scheduled, and I did not think that my “ugly bump” required any urgency. It was also bad timing because I was planning to go to the gym immediately after the appointment.

Turns out I wasn't going to the gym

After placing 3 sutures into the newly biopsied wound, she told me that I could not return to the gym until the sutures were removed a few weeks later. My “ugly bump” turned out to be dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP), a rare skin cancer, and my life was flipped upside down.

DFSP changed my life

Once discovering that I had DFSP, I underwent a wide excision of the tumor under local anesthesia a few weeks after the initial biopsy, and an additional resection of the remaining cancerous cells under general anesthesia 6 weeks later. I was unable to go to the gym, which had very much been a part of my life for the past 3 years. I have anxiety with depressive episodes, and one of my poor coping mechanisms is eating my feelings, which I did during this time. As a result, I have gained 30 pounds in the past 6 months.

I've finally been cleared to exercise

I had a follow up appointment with my surgical oncologist recently, and I was medically cleared to return to prior activities without any restrictions. This made me so happy because for 6 entire months, I was told I could not run, squat, or lift weights. This also made me overwhelmed and anxious because for 6 months, I could use the excuse that I was unable to exercise, and now I had no more excuses. It was time to put in work.

I returned to exercising slowly

I started walking 2-3 miles around my neighborhood a few mornings every week prior to being medically cleared to exercise to try to build my endurance back up. It quickly became a habit and helped me return to regular physical activity. Once I was cleared to exercise without restrictions, I restarted my membership at the gym I’ve attended since 2017.

It was hard, but I made it

My first workout there was INTENSE, and I was almost embarrassed by how out of shape I was. Then, my husband, who joined me for my first class, reminded me that I had 2 pretty big surgeries due to a life-altering disease that could have taken me out. Yes, that workout sucked. Yes, my body is physically larger than it used to be. Yes, I am completely out of shape. However, I survived the diagnosis, I didn’t quit on life, and I finished the workout!

Making my expectations comport with my reality

Now, I’m about 2 weeks into going to the gym regularly and eating healthier than I did during my 6 month “bedrest” (yup, that’s what I’ll call it). I’m hoping to lose a few pounds, but I don’t have unrealistic expectations of myself to return to the way I used to. I’m committed to giving myself grace and listening to my body by pushing it when I can and resting when I need to, as well as eating a donut when the craving hits, because why not? Life is short, and clearly, I have been through too much to be anything but loving and nurturing to myself.

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