Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Part 4: Can Elite Athletes with Breast Cancer Recover Their Fitness Level?

Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Part 4: Can Elite Athletes with Breast Cancer Recover Their Fitness Level?

During October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, ProFysio is focusing on how breast cancer patients can often benefit from physical therapy designed to keep them more active. In the final installment, part 4 of our series, we delve into the topic of elite athletes and breast cancer. How can they maintain their fitness while affected with problem such as fatigue or limited range of motion following surgery? Can they ever compete again?

A breast cancer diagnosis is devastating for anyone, but professional athletes face additional heartache and exposure in national headlines. The details surrounding how they plan to continue their athletic training during treatment are rarely disclosed, but a 2016 study found how elite multi-sport female athletes were able to keep their competitive edge while being treated for breast cancer.

How an Elite Athlete Can Regain Their Previous Fitness Level After Cancer Treatments

Often, athletes find high-volume physical activity integral to their identity, and to give it up is to lose an important component that contributes to their self-image and sense of wellbeing. Chemotherapy is often the most physically debilitating aspect of breast cancer treatment. However, studies have shown how elite athletes can regain their fitness after they recover from chemotherapy, and even mastectomy surgery. One subject in the study was able to regain pretreatment fitness levels 22 months after the completion of her radiation therapy.

These promising numbers show how even elite athletes can return to their sport after cancer treatment, including common treatments such as surgery, chemo, and radiation. By working closely with an oncologist, physical therapist, and even a sports psychologist, elite athletes can regain a sense of self and push through cancer treatment while staying resilient.

Coming to Terms with Physical Limitations During Breast Cancer Treatment

Often, professional sports players must realize they face new limitations that affect their ability to stick to the routine demanded of an elite athlete, and that’s OK. You probably won’t be able to exercise at a high intensity level, but this is a necessary way to protect yourself so your body stays strong during treatment. Even if you can only do low-impact cardio to get your body moving, it’s a good way to maintain physical activity as you cope with breast cancer treatment side effects.

Contact us at ProFysio at (732) 812-5200 to discuss physical therapy during your breast cancer treatments.

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