Exercising during chemotherapy: Arthur McWilliams's success story

I know you’re tired, don’t feel like eating and just want to crawl into bed. But motion = life.

Exercise helps crush many different challenges, physically and mentally. It overloads the body’s software and hard drive, makes all the human systems communicate and unifies the body. You feel better because your body and muscles are active.

Exercise also boosts the immune system through positive energy, and gives patients an extra boost during their toughest days. Arthur McWilliams, 64, who is former military, has multiple sclerosis and is battling liver cancer for the third time. He faced the fear of cancer with progressive workouts. He took his health and recovery into his own hands and fought these horrible diseases.

Arthur’s story


Exercise is important for good health. I have always known this. But I did not know until I was diagnosed with liver cancer that exercise is an excellent adjunct therapy during chemotherapy for cancer patients.

Exercising during chemotherapy? This blew my mind. Prior to my own diagnosis, I had thought one recoiled to the underside of the duvet to wait out the various side effects – fatigue, nausea, pain and neuropathy – of chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy can leave you feeling tired, cognitively impaired, nauseous and in pain. Chemotherapy definitely weakens your immune system, putting you at greater risk of infection, which will hospitalize you, and interrupt and delay your chemotherapy schedule – a psychological and a medical set back.

I did experience the fatigue, cognitive impairment and pain. And I found with all three that exercise was the best medicine I could give myself. My personal training plan was a godsend. The exercise gave me energy and cleared my thinking when I felt groggy and out of it.

What amazed me was how fast the pain would disappear with exercise. Following my chemotherapy regimen, every bone in my body ached. It was the worst pain I had ever experienced in my life. I couldn’t fathom the idea of walking, let alone working out.

On my worst days, I channeled my trainer’s positive attitude and belief in pushing on. I showed up at the training session and told Daniel that I may not be able to finish the workout because I was not feeling well. Daniel flashed me a smile and enthusiastically said, “Let’s see what we can do. Within ten minutes of the workout, the worst pain I had ever experienced was not only gone, but I felt energetic and healthy.

Arthur is one example of the power of exercise during cancer treatments. His story is also a powerful reminder that exercising regularly can help Stop Cancer Before It Starts!

Continue your journey toward a healthy lifestyle and join us for the Prevent Cancer 5k Walk/Run at Nationals Park on September 21.