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Fitness | How I Did It

She Gained Back Quality of Life After Cancer

November 30, 1998|CYNTHIA A. PAGELER

My story begins a few years ago when I was diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer. Following my surgery and chemotherapy treatments, I found that I had gained a significant amount of weight, reaching my all-time high of 182 pounds. I was wearing size 16. Although being glad to have the treatment behind me, I was unhappy with my appearance and found that the surgery had limited the mobility in one of my arms. I even had trouble tucking in a blouse.

A year ago my daughter talked me into joining a gym with her. Because of what I perceived to be physical limitations caused by my surgery, I sought direction and guidance from several of the personal trainers at the gym. One young trainer, Nessive Watson from the Pasadena-La Canada Flintridge area, took a real interest in my case. Nessive evaluated my physical condition, developed a conditioning plan and worked with me weekly.

Over the last year, Nessive has put me through everything from weight training to mountain trail running to boxing / kick boxing.

As for diet, I cut out all sweets and nondiet soda, and do not eat after 6 p.m. Other than that, I eat whatever I want. Nessive had me focus on physical conditioning and diet, stating that the weight loss would take care of itself. It has.

I can now comfortably wear many clothes in a size 10, and my weight is down to 150 pounds. But the big improvement has been in my physical abilities--I have no limitations. I now play golf every week, freely utilizing that same arm that had a hard time tucking in my blouse a year ago. I feel better than ever and have more stamina than ever.

My husband, children, family and friends have been extremely supportive in my efforts. While my motivation has been my physical well-being, I must admit that it is really nice to hear the many compliments regarding my appearance from everyone from my husband of 29 years to my co-workers.

In my case, all of this effort has not been just to look better. It is an effort that just might dramatically extend my life. According to my doctors, research has indicated that estrogen may be a major factor in causing recurrence of my type of breast cancer. Body fat is a contributing source of estrogen in a woman's body. Reducing my body fat increases my chances of avoiding a recurrence. Every time my cancer tests come back clean at UCLA, I know in my mind and heart that the hard work that Nessive puts me through is worth it.

I want not only to let people know that you can lose the weight and look and feel better if you want to, but also to let other women who face the specter of breast cancer know that you can feel even better than before. I do!

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Vital Statistics

Name: Cynthia A. Pageler

Age: 47

Occupation: School office substitute

Height: 5 feet, 8 inches

Old Weight: 182 Pounds

New Weight: 150

Time to Get There: 10 months

Want to Share Your Success Story?

The How I Did It column is taking on a new shape. In the past, we've asked you to share your success stories about losing weight. We still want to hear those stories, but we also recognize that there is more to physical fitness and staying in shape than weight management.

So we're inviting you to tell us about your accomplishments in other areas: how you learned to mountain climb or roller-blade, trained for a half-marathon or discovered a unique way of keeping fit or dealing with a nagging ailment. We'll begin running the first of these stories in the Dec. 7 issue.

As always, tell us your story in a 500-word essay listing what worked in terms of diet, exercise and encouragement, as well as any emotional and physical changes.

For weight-loss stories, send us a full-body color photo of yourself, before and after. For other types of stories, send a color photo of yourself doing the activity you're writing about.

Send essay and photos to How I Did It, Health, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053. Include daytime and evening phone numbers. Submissions cannot be returned. And, please, no phone calls.

In addition to publication, winners will receive a Los Angeles Times Health section gym bag.

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