Futaba Takashima: 'Fitness After Breast Cancer'

Futaba Takashima, wife, mom, Fitness Competitor and co-owner of Physique Magnifique Personal Fitness Training Center, speaks candidly with PM2 on her experience with breast cancer, and how exercise and fitness helped contribute to her recovery.

PM2: What were your first thoughts when you found out that you had breast cancer?

Futaba: My first thought was that the doctors had probably made a mistake and that they would call me back and that everything would be fine.

PM2: And so when they called you back and things weren't the way you expected them to be, what was your reaction? Futaba: My next thought was that I couldn't die because our children are still small and that my husband would be left with two small children to raise. Plus, I'm an only child and I couldn't possibly die before my parents. So I was determined to do everything I could do to beat it.

PM2: So what happened next? Medically, personally, what changes , or steps did you have to take to battle it? If you feel comfortable talking about that, of course? Futaba: Next I had to have a biopsy, which is when the doctors remove some of the tissue in the area to determine whether it was cancerous or not. They found some tissue that was borderline cancer and some that were healthy, and they really couldn't be sure because it was spread throughout my ducts. My doctor suggested that it might be best to have the breast removed instead of allowing it to possibly spread more. So I did. PM2: Wow, that must have been quite a shock. Futaba: Yeah.........it was like saying goodbye to an old friend (had to pause tape, emotional moment). I started to regret all of the bad things that I might have said about my breasts when I realized that one would have to be removed. But as I explained to my children (she continues with a smile), sometimes you might be friends with someone for the longest time, but if the friendship is no longer good, then it might be healthier to not be a friend anymore. So it was the same thing. Even though I had my breast all of my life it was no longer any good, and so it was healthier for my overall body to just get rid of it. PM2: Wow, that's powerful -talk about strength in the face of adversity. Ok, so let's talk about the rehabilitation process. What steps did you take after the surgery to get back on track with your training? How long was it before you actually got back into an exercise routine?

Futaba: Well, a few weeks after I was able to walk on the treadmill, but it took a few months before I was able to actually get back into doing any kind of upper body training. PM2: When you did start training again, what were your routines like? Futaba: Very simple, and mostly a combination of cables and machines because my ranges of motion were really limited. Training like that for a while helped me to gain some stability in the area that had been operated on, then I slowly started adding free weights. PM2: Give us an example. (Upper Body) Futaba: For example: Seated Chest Press (machine) Close grip Cable Rows Lateral Raises (seated on machine) Single arm Cable Curls Single arm Tricep Pushdowns (Lower Body) Body Squats Lunges Seated Calf Raises Crunches (on an incline bench) Futaba: (cont.) I would start off with a cardio movement to warm up my upper and lower body, like an Eliptical Trainer, so I could stretch out the area well. Then I did a real basic weight training and stretching routine twice a week for about ten weeks before I started adding any variety. As my range of motion got better and my strength developed I got daring and started to challenge myself a bit more. Within a short time I was back to doing my regular training routine again. PM2: From that experience, are there any tips or suggestions that you would like to share with our readers that might help them when they're dealing with stressful times or situations? Futaba: One thing is to stay positive and keep a healthy mental attitude. Your mental attitude is a big part of your recovery because it helps you to decide what actions to take next, which are equally if not even more important. Also, maintaining a healthy diet with as much wholesome food as possible, and drinking plenty of water. And most importantly, for me at least, is to have a strong family and spiritual base because during the hardest times, those are my footprints in the sand. In the coming months, PM2 will be sharing some of the exercise routines that Futaba used on her road to recovery.

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