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Cindy Robinson

Warrenton, VA

No matter how health-oriented you are, sometimes life just intervenes. In May of 2007 I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Colorectal cancer. My doctors were very aggressive and within ten days of diagnosis I was undergoing a daily treatment of chemotherapy and radiation for six weeks. I was then scheduled to have major surgery - it would leave a foot long scar and change my body forever.

I only had a few weeks between the end of this treatment phase and the surgery date. I decided to be proactive and to get my body into the best shape possible in order to face the surgery, the long recovery, and the next part of my treatment plan. I went to the local gym, spoke to the Pilates instructor and said “You have to get me in the best shape of my life and you only have four and a half weeks to do it.” She said if I was totally committed she would be as well. I was at the gym everyday sometimes twice a day and did Pilates at home.

I had started doing Pilates about ten years ago and have always enjoyed it. As a former personal trainer I’ve loved how the principles of Pilates made my body feel and move. Now I was using it for an entirely different reason.

At the surgery the doctors were impressed with what they found when they got in there. I’m an average person but I knew that taking care of my body before the surgery would help me recover after the surgery. And it did, big time. The doctors attribute a lot of my recovery success to my pro-activeness with Pilates. I have to give a lot of my credit to my trainer, Susan Koonts. She was wonderful - she didn't push me to hard, but she also didn’t let me wander. Basically, she gave me a chance to succeed.

Two weeks after the procedure I was back in the studio trying to work at it again. It has been a big part of my post-surgery recovery as well. The doctors gave me a few weeks to recover before starting me on another 6-month chemotherapy program. In addition, one of the drugs used in my chemotherapy caused neuropathy. This causes loss of feeling, pain, tingling and numbness in my hands and feet. But the mind-body elements of the Pilates method really helped me even work through that and pull myself together again.

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My doctor’s are confident they got everything out during the surgery, but I’m not completely out of the woods yet - time will tell. In the meantime I’m going to stay proactive and keep doing Pilates. It made a big difference in how I responded to treatment and will continue to be a big part of my life.

Cindy Robinson does Pilates at The Pilates Studio at Old Town Athletic Club in Warrenton, Virginia.

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