My Body, Myself

Posted on: December 10th, 2012 by

The personal trainer sits across from me, glazed over.

He is used to troubleshoot, you see. If you need to lose a few pounds, he can help. Want to improve your body tone? He has a solution. Want to build muscle? He knows just what you need.

But he can’t troubleshoot my problem: to gain confidence in my body after breast cancer.

He sits, ill at ease, fidgeting. Then he plays the same old soundtrack about intense weight training.

I don’t need a personal trainer.

I need a body whisperer.

One who can eradicate my distrust in my body by whispering sweet everythings-I-need-to-hear in my ear.

I need to hear I won’t get cancer again.
I need to hear I will live a long life.
I need to hear my exercise regimen will help keep me healthy.

I know these are unrealistic requests. But I don’t care. I’m asking for a damn guarantee.

In life there are no guarantees. I know that. Or do I?

I grieve my pre-cancer self: the feeling of invincibility that came with good health. I miss those days when I naively believed that if I ate right, exercised, and took great care of myself, I would stay healthy. I mourn my sense of kind arrogance and exuberant confidence during the routine physical exams that I passed with flying colors.

Until the day when the routine exams stopped.

At my health club, I have a new self-imposed training regimen: I’ve started swimming again – and with a vengeance – complemented by light weight training. Now I walk with more bounce in my step and am more fit.

I feel physically strong again. I feel my body tone improving.

And with each swimming stroke, I tell myself I’m so lucky I can swim for a long time. It’s really wonderful that I can trust my body to take me from one end of the lane to the other, and I can relax a bit, trusting my body again. I tell myself that the proof is in the swimming, and swim I can. I also am a walker. I know I’m lucky I found alternative exercises to my former passion, running.

I feel physically, mentally, and spiritually great after a great workout.

But I don’t believe in myself.

The cancer diagnosis has shattered my trust in my body. Adding insult to literal injury, chemotherapy and other treatments have leached bone, causing my bones to fracture, heal, and fracture again.

It seems I’m swimming an uphill battle.

Yet, with each visit to the health club, I feel good. I reason that if I eat right, exercise, and take great care of myself, I am helping myself – even without that guarantee of everlasting health. So maybe I am developing a smidgen of confidence, after all.

Just a smidgen.

22 Responses to My Body, Myself

  1. Kathi had this to say about that:

    Beth, once again, we seem to be on the same wavelength. I’m so glad you are swimming! As you know, I’ve taken up rowing again on my own rowing machine. I already feel better, too. But trusting my body again? That will take time and I may never feel the same way again. We know too much now. I’m just hoping that despite what we know — that health catastrophe can strike anyone anytime out of the blue — that we will both at least feel that our bodies can begin to help us enjoy life more fully each day. That’s a lot. I’m trying to be grateful for that & take it one day at a time. I think I go through cycles of grief around all this loss of self. I don’t know what cycle I’m at now really, something between grudging acceptance of some of the permanent changes and a stubborn determination to prove I can feel better in spite of them. What a tightrope we walk…

    Much love to you. xoxo

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Kathi,

      Yes, we are on the same wavelength, aren’t we? And the tightrope we walk is quite narrow, isn’t it? Like you, I’m not sure I’ll ever trust my body in the same way again. Keep rowing, Kathi. Keep hanging in there. I’m going to be commenting on your posts soon; can’t wait to read them!

  2. Tami Boehmer had this to say about that:

    Proud of you for doing good things for your body. I can relate on so many levels. I can no longer do yoga or Healthy Steps because of pain in my arm. I still walk every day, for that I’m grateful. But I would love guarantees, as well. I guess cancer just confirms what is true for everyone: There are no guarantees so live your life fully now!

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Tami, I’m sorry your arm has pain. Yes, expecting guarantees in life is really unrealistic. I’m glad you are walking every day; that is an awesome exercise.

  3. Debbie had this to say about that:

    Beth, great post and congrats on all you are doing to strengthen your body and spirit! Keep it up and some days you will begin to feel more and more confidence. Hold on to those days and let them outnumber the days when you have doubts. Thanks for sharing!

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Thanks Debbie! I so appreciate your encouragement. I want to get to the point where I can truly feel my body can heal me, not just hurt me.

  4. Lisa Quintana had this to say about that:

    I hear you. I remember after my first diagnosis that I was going faithfully to the YMCA with my 2 1/2 year old daughter in tow, and I was talking to them about the need for something other than step aerobics and things which were done at 5:00 or 6:00. I said that exercise was an important element in keeping cancer at bay….the response of the person was “oh yes! It helps you keep the stress down.” Uh…no…it improves the immune system.

    Now, with my second go around with stage IV cancer, I can’t swim. I can’t walk. I am afraid to bike. I look back at the days when I ran, biked and swam. When I was an athlete…and I look at my broken body which is slowly being eaten away….it is harsh to know that I am 52 and facing death….and back when I was 33, just before I was diagnosed I thought I would have a good, long life. Sad to say, I just will have to settle for the “good” part.

    I’m glad that you’re working on it! You can be doing it for me.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Lisa, oh my gosh. Your comment touched me so much, that the tears won’t stop. I’m sorry for all that has happened to you. It is certainly not fair. As it is said, “Tomorrow is promised to no one,” and I think that is true. I’ve known too many people who have died young.

      You are in my hopes and prayers, and I will do it for you.


  5. DrAttai had this to say about that:

    Beth – take that little smidgen and run with it! That smidgen will turn into two, then three, and before you know it (ok, it might take a little while…) you’ll be BACK. Maybe not the same as before, but BACK. Just keep moving – we’re all cheering you on!

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Dr. Attai,

      Thank you so much for commenting on my posting. I am taking your advice, taking “that little smidgen and run with it!” I appreciate your support more than you know. I will keep moving….you inspire me!

  6. Nancy's Point had this to say about that:

    Great post, Beth. I know exactly what you mean about the difficulty there now is in trusting your own body. I feel exactly the same way. My confidence took another hit just yesterday as I learned my AI has done a number on my bones already. We just keep plodding along doing the best we can don’t we? I admire people like you who can swim. What a great form of exercise. Thanks for writing about this topic, Beth.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Oh Nancy,

      I’m so sorry your AI has negatively affected your bones, my friend. Trust me, I totally know what that is like. Our confidence in our bodies keep taking those hits, don’t they?

      Just keep walking (I know you enjoy taking walks); it is good for your bones.

      As a sidenote, I never considered myself a swimmer. For much of my life I was afraid of the water and couldn’t swim well. Now, I only can do one stroke — ironically the breast stroke — and I’m grateful I can at least do this.

  7. Susan Zager had this to say about that:

    Beth I know how much our bodies have changed. I used to do ballet and go to the gym and was in great shape. After chemo I got osteoporosis which I am way too young for and first a recurrence with surgery losing both breasts with reconstruction and then I broke my hip and I hardly fell. I learned to use hand crutches cause I couldn’t put them on my underarms from the mastectomies, but slowly I am climbing back at the gym. I have learned to move forward with what I have and I am trying to get my stretching back. Because I enjoy working out so much I just have to make the most of it. I also am just getting over a broken toe.I stubbed it and it broke. My bones are so brittle. Oh well, I can’t wait to go back to the gym! For fear of another recurrence that could be Stage IV, I appreciate each day that I am NED. So many aren’t so I put it out of my mind and I am so grateful that I can still work out. I will work out for you Lisa, I promise. Beth, thank you for sharing your true feelings as we all have moments! I hope one day that there will be no more breast cancer, metastatic or early stage and I wish so much that we could reverse mets.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Susan, your comment really moved me. I’m so sorry for all you’ve been through. Osteoporosis is tough, and I really admire you for going forward and trying to take the best care of your body that you can. Thank you for sharing your true feelings. My bones are brittle, too, and all we can do is live one day at a time and make the best of our lives that we can. Thank you for commenting.

  8. Beth Thompson had this to say about that:

    Beth, I love this post and also found in my own recovery that working out helped me to regain trust in my body. It can be so hard to learn to trust a body that you feel has betrayed you, and learn to work as a team with it again. It takes so much longer than anyone can imagine, but it does get better with time. You said it beautifully! Beth T.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Thanks, Beth, for your comment. It’s true that working out can help us regain trust in our bodies. Thank you for your kind words. I will be checking out your blog soon. I’ve heard nothing but great things about it!

  9. had this to say about that:

    I really relate to this post. Yet, we do what we can, what’s within our power such as eating well and exercising, knowing that we’re supporting our bodies as best we can in a world of uncertainty. My best to you!

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:


      Thank you so much for your comment. It helps to know that we can do certain things to help ourselves, even when life is so uncertain. My best to you, too.

  10. Deer Antler Review had this to say about that:

    Superb blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost
    on everything. Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress
    or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed ..
    Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Thank you for your kind words about my blog. I think it’s wonderful that you are an aspiring writer; the world needs your voice, so I would say go for it! As far as tips go, just write from the heart and be yourself!

      There’s a free online course on blogging to those who are interested. Check out for more information. I am one of the course’s blog mentors.

      In terms of platform, there are many options. I recommend going with a free platform like WordPress, which is a fine option. Blog for at least a year on WordPress, and if you are finding it gratifying, you can always pay for a URL. But this isn’t necessary. A free WordPress platform might be enough for your needs for years to come.

      Happy blogging!

  11. blog di sesso had this to say about that:

    Hello, I want to subscribe for this website to obtain most recent updates, thus where can i do it
    please help out.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hello there!

      To subscribe, just click the orange button on the home page under the title of my website. That should help you follow my blog.

      Thank you so much for your interest! I appreciate it.

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