Jay Lake: Writer

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[Cancer]

[cancer] On Health

Me and my recovered immune system were having lunch with a friend yesterday when the conversation turned to the topic of health. I’d seen my oncologist that morning, and after she’d listened to my heart, she’d asked me if I exercised. Thirty minutes a day, I told her. I wondered why she’d asked. She said I had a good resting heart rate.

As the chat at lunch went, echoing some other recent conversations, at this point trying to keep up with my weight and fitness isn’t about looking good — I’ll never be a hard body. Way too much work for my metabolism and physique, and I’m not motivated enough to spend that many hours a day and control my diet that rigidly. Nor am I aiming for longevity through heart health. I don’t really expect to live long enough for that to matter.

It’s about tolerating and surviving the surgeries and the chemotherapies.

What exercise and fitness buy me is less pain and quicker recovery, and the ability to sustain higher dosages and more intense chemotherapy regimens.

I first got myself into regular exercising by convincing myself it would make me a better writer. Cancer has only underscored the value of the effort.

Part of what keeps me alive day to day and month to month are the habits I do have. Could they be better, more efficient, whatever? Sure. But I’m down 70 pounds from my peak weight of some years ago, and I seem to be able to weather the dreadful punishments medical science inflicts on me.

Frankly, it had never occurred to me that the value of health and fitness would lie in my ability to combat a disease like this.

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