Meet Lily

Lily talks about her journey being active both during and after her treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

Before I was diagnosed, I was a keen swimmer and was pretty active but I guess I kind of took my fitness for granted, as I’m sure anyone that’s been through a cancer diagnosis would. 

As soon as I was diagnosed with ALL I immediately was moved to a TCT ward and spend pretty much the best part of 6 months as an inpatient, usually isolated to my room. I was given pedals to keep my legs moving and would be allowed to walk down through the back corridors of the hospital at night because id get very restless and stiff but I didn’t pay much attention really to how much strength I was loosing until I went into transplant. 

My transplant happened the week the country went into lockdown which meant I was unable to have regular visits from the physios as planned. I was however given an exercise bike, but because I became quite poorly, very quickly that then became a clothes horse and was never touched! Due to the side effects of my treatment, I lost almost 2 stone in around 4 weeks and became so weak I couldn’t actually get myself out of bed to even walk to the toilet so keeping active was the last thing on my mind. 

As I got slightly stronger and eventually discharged I remember getting home and my parents almost having to carry me up the stairs because I had just lost all muscle in my legs and I could hardly carry my own body weight. 

That said, fast forward a year and I had started to think about my fitness goals and building myself back up. I’d also gained quite a bit more weight than I’d lost so I was keen to shift some of this as well and started by just walking and building up the distance week by week. After lockdown, I started with a personal trainer, initially strength building but then also working on my cardio and trying to improve my lung function through exercise. 

I’m now 3 years post transplant and properly the fitness and healthiest I’ve ever been. I plod (!!) with a local running club and also partake in group strength classes, HIIT work outs, circuits and bootcamp weekly as well as ensuring I’m hitting personal goals through a written PT plan. It’s safe to say that fitness has never been a passion of mine, I’ve always had to make myself do it and force myself to enjoy it because I knew how well it made me feel afterwards but I can honestly now say that moving my body and looking back on what I’ve been through and can now lift or run or squat etc, absolutely blows my mind! It makes me so proud of myself to remember the state I was in led in my hospital bed in transplant, unsure if I’d make it through the day, to pushing my body to limits I could only dream of back then.

It’s true that you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone, but I never thought of it in a fitness sense. I’m so grateful to be able to now move my body and work out as and when I please because there was a period of time when this was taken away from me and I was forced to say no, but now I appreciate just how strong I am becoming and I’m so proud of how well my body copes after everything it has been through. The come back is always stronger than the set back !!