Cherri Driver is a 57 year old nurse who now leads an active lifestyle. In her early adulthood Cherri was never overweight, but she was not a regular exerciser. Her road to recognizing the importance of leading a healthy life that includes exercise started after her breast cancer diagnosis.
Cherri was 45 when she found a lump and a subsequent ultrasound with biopsy diagnosed cancer. Eleven out of sixteen nodes were also positive for cancer so a lumpectomy and lymph node removal was scheduled for June 2003. Cherri had eight chemotherapy treatments every two weeks and then twenty radiation treatments. January 15, 2004, was her treatment end date and she was a cancer survivor! Cherri states, “The entire time frame was only 8 months and some days, in the midst of it all, it seemed like 8 years. Looking back now it seems like it never happened.”
After her treatment, Cherri read that regular exercise could lower the cancer reoccurrence rate by 70-80%. Never wanting to go through those eight months again, Cherri made an effort to make exercise a regular part of her life. She began a deliberate exercise program the summer of 2004 after she felt stronger. Cherri started with walking, built up to jogging, and then added strength training to her routine. She has a personal trainer that she sees two to three times a week to help her with strength training and push her to do her best. “I have to admit to being a little proud of my personal best deadlifting of 150 pounds, which is 30 pounds over my weight.” Cherri says. Exercise has allowed her to feel better and more confident than ever.
Personal trainers are not for everyone and they are not the only successful way to stay active. Some people like solitary exercise where they can have time to themselves, others like team sports to feel they are a part of a community, and some like the social, fun aspect of group classes. There are many forms and settings that active exercise can take place. It is important to find the right one for you. For Cherri, it was a trainer. She explains, “I know I need the motivation of being “pushed” and the social interaction is a big part of why I continue to enjoy exercising. Exercise is part of my weekly schedule. Two days of the week, after my eight hour work day, I drive forty miles from my workplace to my gym. The expense of a trainer is part of our budget that both my husband and I consider well worth the physical and mental health benefits I receive each time I exercise. I can’t stress the mental health benefits enough—cheaper than therapy sessions.” Choosing a form of exercise and a setting you enjoy makes it a lot easier to keep going on those tough days.
Generally when starting a lifestyle change, it can be difficult to adjust to those changes. There are both physical and mental barriers to overcome and perseverance is necessary for success. Cherri didn’t struggle with this. She broke through barriers that arose by reminding herself that this was something she needed to do for not only herself but for her family. Cherri explains, “I felt I needed to do it (exercise). I had a spouse and three children, two still at home, that needed a wife and mom around for a long time.” Her motivation came from the people closest to her. She has now kept a consistent exercise routine for the past eleven years.
Since Cherri has started exercising regularly, she has noticed long term improvements in her life. She can sleep better, she is more emotionally stable, happier and more secure with herself. Cherri encourages everyone to find an activity today, “Don’t wait until you have a major health issue as your motivation! Start slow with a small change and go from there. Find an activity that you enjoy doing and want to do on a regular basis. Make your health and wellness a priority!”