The studies are stacking up, saying exercise eases the effects of chemotherapy. A Pensacola woman found out firsthand during her battle with breast cancer.
Olivia Goodman was diagnosed with breast cancer four and a half years ago at age 34. Chemotherapy treatments brought on nausea and fatigue like she'd never felt.
She lost all her hair, even her eyelashes, and she always felt like her head was in a fishbowl. She calls it "chemo brain".
Goodman is a strength and conditioning specialist who teaches clients how to stay strong and flexible. She makes healthy living a priority and always felt in control of her body.
Chemo changed everything, physically and mentally.
Goodman explained, "You've gained a bunch of weight, you're puffy, your skin might be kind of yellow-y, and you just...you look in the mirror and you're like, 'oh my gosh, I'm a zombie,' you just look and feel so bad, and to see your reflection, it just really wears on you, self-esteem wise."
Intuitively, she turned to exercise.
She said, "It just makes you feel empowered like I've got control over this, I've got control how I feel."
Beginning with a study out of the Netherlands in 2015, research is consistently showing exercise can lessen the effects of chemo; particularly fatigue, pain, and nausea. Goodman found it doesn't have to be a lot. Many days she just walked.
She continued, "It may have been 15 minutes, it may have been an hour. It just depended on how I felt, but I knew I had to push because I knew it would make me better, and it would make me better mentally, too."
Exercise helped her stay positive and believe she'd be well again.
Goodman said, "As a woman, not only do you get the benefits of looking better, but you're stronger, and you feel like you can conquer the world that way. And that's kind of how I approach this whole treatment. It's not going to beat me."
Now she faces an even bigger test. Her cancer is back, metastasized throughout her body, and she's developed a rare form of lymphoma.
In next week's Health Watch, she explains why she decided against chemotherapy and talks about her hope for healing.