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Breast Cancer THRIVER & SuperSlow Zone Client

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“I consider that chapter CLOSED!”

…says Breast Cancer THRIVER & SSZ Client

Susan Hill, Physical Therapist

 

The following is my very inspiring chat with Susan Hill, SSZ College Station, TX client, about her ‘thriving’ after Breast Cancer. But first, some quick facts about Breast Cancer.

 

Quick Facts about Breast Cancer in the USA – 2014

Women:

    • Estimated 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer
    • Estimated 62,570 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer
    • About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

Men:

    • Estimated 2,360 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in men in 2014. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.

(Reference: http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics)

 

Susan found herself as one of the statistics stated above about 3 years ago: challenged, scared and determined to thrive beyond Breast Cancer.

 

Susan Hill, Physical Therapist And Her Instructor,

Carol Kapella, Accredited, Certified SSZ Instructor

 

About Susan

  1. Age 74
  2. Profession: Licensed Physical Therapist for 50+ years, currently home health care

Breast Cancer Summary

Outcome = Thriving

(Past) Breast Cancer: Stage 2, Ductal, Invasive
  1. Beat Breast Cancer
  • Partial radical mastectomy
  1. Went on her glorious trip with grandkids to Singapore [read more below]
  • 14 lymph nodes removed, not 16: each lymph node is VERY important!!!)
  • Some people with major problems are getting lymph node transplants
  1. Began SSZ personal strength training
    • Slow at first
    • Built strength
    • Then focused on her aspiration and goal [see below]
  • 8% drop in bone density from chemotherapy
  1. 4.     SSZ is essential for my strength, posture, functionality, balance and managing lymphedema (helps my collateral circulation)
  • Nerve injury to shoulder during surgery
  1. Dreamed of competing in the Buffalo Bayou Regatta for canoes with her sister
 
  1. Came in second in division, racing with her sister
 
  1. Rebuilding her muscles [Sarcopenia] and bone density [Osteoporosis]
 
  1. Must have strength to work with her patients: she is ‘little but STRONG’

 

  1. SuperSlow Zone College Station Client: 2 years
  2. SSZ Instructor: Carol Kapella, Accredited, Certified Level I Instructor                                                     

 

While addressing her Breast Cancer was not easy, Susan did have 50+ years helping others, her physical therapy patients; she was able to call on her inner coaching, wisdom and help and support from others. And she set her goal….

 

Like My Physical Therapy Patient’s Feel, My Diagnosis Felt Like Climbing a Mountain, Until…

“I think they [my patients] need to have a goal and that they want to do it. It has to come from inside of them. Sometimes goals can seem too big, too far, unattainable or doable, however you still set the goal. This can feel very challenging, because if they [my patients] think it’s impossible truly in the bottom of their toes, then it will be impossible. So if you can break through that barrier “I cannot do it, it will not work” then you’ve got some hope. If that never changes, then, you are not going to make much progress.

I help them set their goal.

Then, I tell my patients, ‘Let’s just take one step and get going. We have a goal, which feels like climbing a mountain, but let’s start with one step…and just get going towards our goal. This helps them come around to thinking that maybe they can do it, maybe there’s a little crack, maybe they can see a little bit of improvement, so that little step that they took to just start helped them get some confidence.

I followed this same path with myself. I created a goal regarding thriving beyond my breast cancer. I took one step at a time, with lots of help.’”

 

        My Diagnosis, Treatment Plan & Goal

         I Had to Get on That Plane and Have Fun

 

My goal was to be able to take my grandkids to Singapore to visit my daughter.

I was diagnosed with the invasive metastatic breast cancer, October the 4th, 2011. In November I had a single mastectomy and about 14 lymph nodes removed.  I then started my chemo with Taxol in January the 2nd, 2012 and had 8 treatments of that. I had to stop Taxol because of the severe neuropathies I was developing in my hands. I made the decision that my hands are more important to me than living 5 more years and having hands that I cannot use. I stopped it. I immediately started on FAC, that red devil, and that went on for 3 months.

Also, I had nerve injury that I got during the surgery so I lost a lot of the function in my shoulder because I stretched one of the long nerves, very important for raising your arm above the shoulder height. And then the osteoporosis; I’ve gone from osteopenia to osteoporosis from the chemo. I finished my chemo after 4 months and in May 11th, 2012 was my last chemo.

So all these things were factoring in and I had to deal with each one of those individually in little tiny steps. That all went together with my goal of my grand trip to Singapore with my grandkids, ages 18 and 25.

So I had to get on the plane.

I kept asking my doctor “with this chemo, can I go? I gotta be able to go!” He said “well, we’ll see”. I said “I have to be able to go.”

He (my doctor) said ‘You can go’”.

 

After My Glorious Trip To Singapore….I Took Small Steps Towards Exercise

“I took small steps towards exercise after my trip. I had to do physical therapy for couple of months, just working on this nerve. By February, my nerve started to regenerate so I was starting to get a little bit of the muscle function. It was very slow, my physical therapist helped me.  Then I finally got to little weights in rehab.

I voiced my concerns, all of them, to my doctor but mainly my worry about my osteoporosis which had gotten so much worse. While at my doctor visit, I saw a SuperSlow sticker on his examining table. I had heard about it but I didn’t really know what it was, so I said ‘Doctor Alexander, do you think that would help my osteoporosis?’ He looked at me and said, ‘You bet!’

I went through an Initial Consultation and Sample Work Out at SSZ College Station with Carol Kapella. I signed up two days later. We started slowly with increasing the weights, Carol was always coaching me about proper form for safety, so that I didn’t have any repercussions. With Carol’s coaching, I steadily got stronger.”

 

…Then Competing In a Canoe Regatta

 

“There was the Buffalo Bayou Regatta for canoes, and my sister and I wanted to compete in that. I really didn’t know if I will be able to do it because I hadn’t done that much strengthening of all my muscles yet and I had never competed in canoe competitions. But, my sister and I decided, ‘We are going for it!’

 

Carol, my SSZ Instructor, really helped me out. She pushed me as much as I could be pushed and that was truly helpful. I went twice a week for about six months, and now I am down to once a week, but during that time, I thought, oh my, I have gotten so much stronger, and I had!

 

So much stronger that my sister and I came in second in our age division. We were delighted.

 

This is really funny…our practice for each race is the previous year’s raceWe don’t ever practice in between except our own strength training program and mine is SuperSlow Zone College Station.”

 

This Is Not a Sissy Workout

 

“Ah, well Carol, my Instructor, is all about good energy, focus and me doing things right.  And, I must say, how intelligent she is. When I arrive, she has me all set up. So I go in, wearing my scrubs, work out and about twenty minutes later, I am out.

 

She keeps me on track; she is a task master making sure my technique is exactly right. If it is not, she makes me go back or she cuts the weight back, and I don’t like that. So she keeps on my case big time to make me do it right. And if I have a substitute Instructor they say “Oh, your technique is so good.” And I say “Well, Carol is killing me if I don’t do it right”…

No, it is not a sissy work out.”

 

I Must Be Strong for My Work – If Patients Get Someone Weak, They Know It

 

SuperSlow Zone exercise has been helpful, and I think all this exercise not only helps my muscle strength and function but it also helps my collateral circulation. And I think that’s why I don’t get the lymphedema anymore because it helps my circulation, even though I don’t have lymph nodes.

 

I really feel so good. I feel more confident because I feel so strong. And I feel grounded, you know, like you are on the ground and you can walk, and you are nice and tall. It has helped my life a lot…

 

Being strong from SSZ exercise is essential for my work as a Physical Therapist. I have to be able to help people move and some of them are really big and really heavy. Lifting an arm or a leg can be quite cumbersome and heavy.  Also I have to do manual resistance so they are pulling against me to strengthen, as far as I can resist them.  I have to have a good balance because when they are trying to walk, I have to be able to balance them and to be able to control how they move and where are they moving, so yeah, it is very important that I can be strong enough to do these things.

 

If a patient has somebody that is really weak trying to help them, they can sense it. I try to be as strong as I can be so that they don’t worry ‘she is little but she is awfully weak.’ Instead, my patients think, ‘she is little, but she is STRONG!”

 

Thank you to Susan for sharing her story. We aim to inspire and open possibilities for thriving beyond Breast Cancer.

 

Madeline Ross

Founder & CEO

SuperSlow Zone, LLC

 

 

 

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