Health resolutions can be difficult to keep, especially with cancer

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Many people will make resolutions to get in shape in the new year, but few will stick to it.

A local woman is not only completing a year of living a healthier lifestyle, but despite a life-threatening diagnosis.

“I was determined to lose some weight, eat healthier and get into a fitness program,” said Faith Lauer of Allentown. “It helped me a lot mentally and physically.”

Lauer, an OR nurse, decided to make a 2023 New Year’s resolution to improve her fitness.

“I started doing metabolic conditioning classes three times a week, which included cardio intervals and weight training,” she said of her new routine.

“And then on opposite days I would lift weights for upper body and then lower body, and I would eat a little bit better, cut down on junk food.”

“I had been working out and it was kind of like, How is this possible? I just started trying to get in better shape and really work on my fitness, improving my fitness level, and then it happened.”

Operating nurse Faith Lauer of Allentown

In March, at an appointment she had been putting off for six months, she received a diagnosis that tried to stop her: stage one invasive carcinoma breast cancer.

“I used to work out and it was kind of like, How is this possible?” she said.

“I just started trying to get in better shape and really work on my fitness, improving my fitness level, and then it happened.”

More often than he thought

Lauer’s story is more common than she thought, said her radiation oncologist, Dr. Allison McIntosh of the Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute.

“What happens is that once you start focusing on your health, you start thinking about what screening you should be doing as part of your regular health care,” McIntosh said.

“And that’s where, fortunately, a lot of things get picked up in our screening procedures, like mammograms and pelvic exams and some regular blood tests.”

Lauer said it was a devastating time, but she wasn’t going to let it sway her from the healthy course she was already on.

“I think it helped me a lot to be able to have enough energy to get through the treatment with my regular workload.”

Operating nurse Faith Lauer of Allentown

“I stuck with it,” she said. “I had surgery the following month in May and continued training.

“I was back in the gym three or four days later with light weights and kept going, even through the radiation treatments.”

“I think it helped me a lot to be able to have enough energy to get through the treatment with my regular workload.”

Not only did Lauer have enough energy to recover, she completed the Spartan race this summer and the Tough Mudder race in the fall.

Now in remission

McIntosh said her patients’ commitment to physical activity definitely plays a role.

There are studies that show that even a little exercise really helps the patient get through the treatment with fewer side effects.”

Dr. Alison McIntosh, radiation oncologist, Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute

“There are studies that show that even small amounts of exercise, not even vigorous exercise, but that’s even better in a way, really helps the patient get through treatment with fewer side effects,” she said.

McIntosh said people don’t have to run a marathon, but daily walks can be helpful in the fight against cancer.

“In oncology, it’s really scary when you’re the patient, because there’s a lot that’s out of your control,” she said. “And even as a doctor or a provider, there are things that are out of your control.

“Biology is what it is. You have to figure out how to manipulate it. But the fact is, they’ve proven, both in patients and in the lab, that you can increase your chances of beating cancer by doing something on your own, like exercise.”

Lauer is now in remission.

“I feel great,” she said. “I definitely want to stay on this path. This has only been a positive for me as far as fitness goes. I will definitely continue it in the new year.”

She said her advice to anyone hoping to get fitter in the new year is to take small steps, join a gym and get to know the members.

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