WHEN Claire Howden was under going breast cancer treatment she never imagined exercise could be the best treatment of all.

Ms Howden, 38, was diagnosed with cancer just over a year ago and had a left mastectomy and six-months of chemotherapy. She was recommended to do The Fit Lab's pilot program Fighting Back with Fitness, for women with breast cancer.

After doing the 12-week program, she and the rest of the ladies convinced the gym to continue with a maintenance program.

"I was fairly hesitant to start because I was feeling so poorly and so sick from the chemotherapy," Ms Howden said.

But she was amazed with the results, her flexibility and ability to do every-day activities improved "triple-fold". It also helped when it came to looking after two-year-old son Pax.

"While I was going through treatment I was really struggling to lift him into his cot, I couldn't hold him for longer than a couple of seconds," she said.

Claire Howden and The Fit Lab's Henry Elliott.
Claire Howden and The Fit Lab's Henry Elliott. Nev Madsen

"We get down and read books on the floor at night and I wasn't even able to squat down and do that. So with this program, really, I feel like it has given me my life back with my toddler."

Ms Howden said exercise gave her so much more life, while going through something that sucked the life out of her.

Head strength and conditioning coach Steve Nance said the second Fighting Back with Fitness program had just started, along with the maintenance program.

"This program is basically 50% resistance training, 50% cardio. Research suggests we have got to keep their heart rate up and the intensity of their exercise up," Mr Nance said.

"It's designed really to get them well. It will reduce their risk of cancer reoccurring and most importantly it increases their longevity, their life, which is a big deal."

If you would like to get involved, talk to your cancer care nurse or doctor.


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