The Power of Mental Fitness

Without a strong mind, will or positive outlook on your cancer, I believe little will be accomplished with your treatments and sessions, both pre and post operative, including therapies and post-rehab training. I continuously suggest avenues that I think would be best for you to overcome or work with the results of your surgeries and adjuvant therapies, and I know IT IS NOT EASY!

It is not easy to pick yourself up after chemotherapy and radiation. It is not easy to find the energy, the desire, the optimism or reasons for fitness and health, and you won’t unless you are mentally prepared to work with yourself.

Reading doctor Marisse Venter’s article on Reconstructive Surgery in our last edition (Spring 2015), I observed she is also pointing out this aspect or approach. We are all in this together! Theoretically, what constitutes a healthy mind? A strong mind? A strong will? Let me share the story of my friend Lizette le Roux, and perhaps you can give YOUR LIFE some thought.

I met Lizette five years ago in the Pilates studio where I work. She began her sessions as a “normal” client, attending private sessions for the pure joy of exercise. In 2012 she was diagnosed with colon cancer that had spread to her skeletal system as well as her lymphatic system. In fact the diagnosis was stage four cancer. Of course Lizette underwent chemotherapy treatments twice, radiation, interim therapy (maintenance treatment) and was administered Avastin and Stivarga at various stages, but all with sad results.

The cancer spread to parts of her lungs. Lizette’s treatments spread over the past 3 years and in April of this year, her oncologist basically told her to go home and start working on her bucket list. Lizette told me that she felt a sense of relief but also felt as if she was left in the wilderness, thinking there must be more out there to try. And she did try… Colon cleansing, vitamin drips and hyperbaric treatments but still, improvement was non-existent.

One day I asked Lizette, ‘what drove you to such lengths of search? Where did you get your strength, energy, optimism?’ Her answer was a loud single word. ‘FAITH!’ Perhaps you are not a Christian or perhaps you are, or perhaps you are not a believer in higher beings; but CLEARLY, mind is over matter here.

What happens when one is in the predicament that Lizette is in? The mind is strong and the body is trying to follow, more alternatives? It so happened that Lizette began seeing a clinical dietician a few months ago and this time something is working. Lizette believes that this time around her body had more time to be receptive to a treatment, but of course when you are working on your bucket list, how much time do you have? No one knows, but the desire, drive or will keeps pushing some individuals, like Lizette, to extremes. She is now in Berlin to try one more alternative treatment and is very excited about the prospects considering just a month or two ago she thought, “this is it…”

Her executive will was drawn and her family members were on high alert.

“Faith Lizette declares,” don’t live Cancer; Live the life the Lord has given you. Make a difference in other peoples’ lives, that is what we are here for. If you focus on the negative, you will get the negative. If you focus on the positive, you will reap the positive and feel the love. It starts with YOU!”

Lizette believes stress and predisposition caused her cancer. She also firmly believes exercise assists a person during the journey of cancer. “Exercise definitely helped me. Since one’s body deteriorates with cancer and treatments, engaging in regular exercise increased my muscle strength and joint flexibility. It also elevated my mood!”

Therefore, if not faith in the Lord, I ask you to have faith in SOMETHING to help your mind grasp the situation you have been dealt with so your body might be encouraged to follow, or at least do the best it can. Faith in yourself, your doctors, your family, your destiny…

Taking the words from my pioneering friend Lizette le Roux..

Take every day as the best and be the best you can for that day. Every day is a new blessing and time is limited…


Heidi Wright is certified in Pilates Mat, Allegro, Studio and Post Rehabilitation with Polestar Pilates and Pilates elder Lolita San Miguel. She is also a member and certified instructor with Pilates Method Alliance and a Post Rehabilitation practitioner with Pink Ribbon.

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