Phil Parker wrote:
With Multiple Myeloma my energy level is sporatically lower at times during chemo treatments. But on my off-weeks I try to kick it up a notch. Was wondering if anyone else has similar issues and/or any suggestions for successful base training. My event focus now is the shot, discus and javelin, possibly sprints if I can get my butt in shape.
Hi Phil, your determination to stay fit through chemo is admirable and familiar; I had the same attitude and I believe it helped me beat the rap, as it were. However, you do need to be selective. Chemo does bad things to your tissues, as I'm sure you have noticed. One thing it apparently does is to make cartilage more fragile; I say that because I tore the meniscus in my knee during an otherwise nondescript sprint workout in the middle of my chemo treatments. I noticed that my knee was hurting and starting to swell up, and so I quit and jogged home about 1 km; I think it was the jog on a swollen knee that did me in -- poor registration of the joint due to fluid between the surfaces? All I know is, it put me clean out for a year, during which I stayed fairly fit by virtue of 3 hard gym workouts per week, especially anaerobic work on elliptical trainers (no impact, easy on the knees) and rowing machines (ditto). But I gained 25 pounds.
I finally got knee surgery in 2005 and have been OK since then, although I seem to have permanently lost that speed edge.
My recommendation is to forget sprinting for the duration; work on strength and endurance in the gym, using low-impact apparatus. (By "low-impact" I mean easy on the joints and tendons, not easy on the muscles!) And read up on diet and drugs that help minimize the dulling effects of chemo on your nervous system! I wish I had focused more on that rather than trying to maintain short-term competitiveness, which just ain't gonna happen while you're on the juice. I used to think "chemo brain" was a load of BS; now I'm not so sure. Those nerve impulses just aren't getting to my muscles as fast as they used to. (Can't be age, right?
Ask your doctors about "chemo brain" and find out if there's anything you can do to ameliorate it.
One other thing: you may get overdosed. When I went on chemo I read up on what they were giving me, and noticed that the dosages were in mg/m<SUP>2</SUP>. When I asked about that they said they normalized the dose against the patient's surface area. I asked how they knew my surface area; they said they had a formula in terms of height and weight. I said, "You're gonna overdose me." They asked what made me think that. I explained that in order to calculate surface area from height and weight they obviously had to make some assumptions about mean density; using the average (which is really their only choice) they would overestimate my surface area and overdose me, because, as a competitive athlete, my mean density is higher than normal. They said, "Now, now, we know what we're doing, don't you worry your little head...." And then they overdosed me. They had to stop the chemo 2 months early because my liver was shutting down. That was in 2003. Given the rate of procedural evolution in Medicine, I doubt that there has been any improvement of comprehension since then. You probably won't have any more luck explaining this than I did, and you are probably fit enough to shrug off an overdose, which will hit the cancer harder, which is good; but then there's the "chemo brain" thing....
Just be sure to do everything you can to mitigate the bad side effects now, so you can come back to full speed in a year or two.