While highlighting our ST&BF Indoor Row Group after another successful season which ended on April 30th, I wanted to share some comments from two of our IRG Team Members: Cindy Becker and Cindy Walvoord. Both Cindys share a breast cancer diagnosis as well as a strong commitment to physical exercise and activity. Cindy Becker is a familiar face at many of our ST&BF activities while Cindy Walvoord chooses to participate primarily from the comfort of her own home (although her recent retirement may allow for more in-person participation). Their contrasting stories, goals, experiences, and histories illustrate that Survive, Thrive & Be Fit offers opportunities and benefits to a wide variety of area cancer patients and survivors. All you need is the desire to stay physically active and have some fun doing it!
Cindy Becker: Breast Cancer, Diagnosed in 2008
I had abnormal mammograms in the past. In 2008, when they first started using 3-D digital mammo-graphy, I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. My Dad had just been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia so it was an especially stressful time because I was advocating for myself and my Dad. I underwent four rounds of chemotherapy. Here I am, almost fifteen years later, and I am just thrilled to still be here!
Cindy Walvoord: Breast Cancer, 2018
I went in for my regular mammogram that revealed some irregularities and was diagnosed with breast cancer on March 8, 2018. I’ll always remember the date because it was two days before my granddaughter’s third birthday. I admit, I freaked out because my mom had died from cancer at age 63!
The cancer was caught early and there was no nodal involvement which meant no chemotherapy. By the end of May I had completed surgery, radiation, and physical therapy.
I just reached my five-year mark! That’s a good thing! But I may begin to worry more when I get closer to my mom’s age.
Both Cindys Have Been Physically Active Most of Their Lives!
Cindy B: I’ve been very active my whole life: walking, biking, and I played a lot of racquetball when I was younger. I love yoga and do it almost every day and I’ve really enjoyed our Qigong sessions which really helps me relax. I know I’m not as active as I was when I was younger and my balance isn’t what it used to be. Yoga and Qigong both help with my balance, but I know I’m getting older. I really think stretching is important. Every morning when I wake up, I do my stretches in bed even before my feet hit the floor. I have to be careful with my back as just one misstep out of bed, or bending over to put on a sock before stretching out can cause an injury. So those few extra minutes are well worth it! I just do the best that I can.
Cindy W: I’ve always been active. After college I got involved at the Y and participated in women’s volleyball leagues, softball leagues, and many fitness classes. I’ve been active at the fitness center in Oostburg since it opened (2009). I typically enjoy a variety of activities, ellipticals, weights, and walking. It’s to the point where exercise is like a drug for me and I am addicted. I feel sick if I can’t do it.
I had a skin cancer removed from my forehead and the doctor recommended that I do NOTHING for a few days – no walking, no nothing – until the stitches were out because he wanted to keep the blood flow to that area down. That was the worst torture.
Cindy B Prefers Working Out with Others:
I prefer working out with others. It’s more social. I have a variety of fitness equipment in the basement and I’ve invited others to join me. It’s not that I am very competitive, I just enjoy being with people. It keeps me accountable and motivated, it’s more social, and the time just seems to fly by when you’re with others. But I also like doing some things, like walking, alone sometime. When I go by myself, I can walk as fast or as slow as I want and it also allows me time to be with my own thoughts because I think we all need that alone time.
Cindy W Works Out on Her Own:
I’m fine working out by myself. I enjoy the solitude. Last winter, when they were redoing the fitness center, I would just put on all of my layers and be out walking at 3 in the morning. It’s quiet, the birds are quiet until the sun comes up and then they start singing and it’s really cool being out there with my thoughts. Maybe now that I am retired and should have a little more time I may get involved in some group activities... but I don’t see the time that I work out on my own decreasing.
Cindy B Was Active with ST&BF, Then LIVESTRONG:
I attended the very first ST&BF Gentle Yoga for Cancer Survivors session in 2010, and I’ve been active ever since. I enjoy the variety of things we do, especially Yoga and Qigong but also Pickleball and our visits to the Christopher Farm & Gardens. I also attended the LIVESTRONG at the Y program along with my husband Bruce. We really enjoyed it and it introduced Bruce to Pickleball, which has become his passion!
Cindy is a long-time ST&BF participant that includes:
Cindy W Was Active with LIVESTRONG, Then ST&BF:
I went through the LIVESTRONG at the Y program in September of 2018. That was great! I was working at the time so I was only able to attend one day a week and, shortly after that, I got on the e-mail list. I read the newsletters, but I didn’t really get involved right away. In early 2021, I noticed the A.S.S. (Active Survivors of Sheboygan) Log Sheets and started filling them out and sending them in.
Cindy B: On Keeping an Exercise Log
Prior to becoming an A.S.S. (Active Survivor of Sheboygan), I never really logged or tracked my exercise. But I’ve found it has motivated me and it challenges me to reach my goals and even go beyond my goals. Even though I don’t consider myself to be very competitive... I do like the challenge of earning my A.S.S. points!
Cindy W: On Keeping an Exercise Log
I’ve always kind of kept track of my activities on a calendar, although I never really compared year-to-year. I’m a competitive person and keeping track of my activities is a way for me to compete with myself. When you started the “Cumulative” Marathon Walk/Run, I figured I could do 26.2 miles in a couple of weeks. When I reached that distance, I kept going and kept logging my walks. I was a little surprised when I looked at my three-month total. I know I’m getting older... and slower... and I have my share of injuries and problems... but I figure I’m still doing pretty good!
(See attached PDF below for related photos) Here is a copy of one of Cindy W’s March Log Sheet. Her consistency and variety are impressive! It may be difficult to read, but Cindy’s 3-month (winter) walking distance total was 299 miles! Great job!
Why Rowing Appeals to Cindy B:
I love rowing. I feel like it is a great full-body workout and it even makes my back feel better. It’s good for my heart, and I have some cardiac history in my family. It’s also good for my lungs, and I think it alleviates some of my allergy symptoms including shortness of breath. Even though we’re getting older we just need to stay as active as we can. Plus, it just makes me feel better, and who doesn’t want to feel better! I often row four or five sets of 1500 meters with a break in between each set. I’ve been doing various Qigong movements during those breaks. The combination of the two allows me to get the exercise I need and also allows my body to rest, recover, and relax. I love that.
I know there are some team members who have rowed many million meters, but my goal is to reach a Million Meters... that is a challenge for me! Of course, when I reach a million meters, I plan to continue. And I love the Row Across Lake Michigan!
Why Rowing Appeals to Cindy W:
A couple years ago I was having some knee pain and I think walking, either on the hard road surfaces or even my treadmill, may have been contributing to the problem. Because of that, the notion of using a no-impact rowing ergometer appealed to me and I had heard that you were loaning out the rowing ergs during the off-season. It’s a great exercise, so I purchased my own erg. The convenience of having an erg right at home is wonderful. Some days I’ll row for 10-minutes, other days I’ll spend 30-, 40-minutes or more! I haven’t rowed with the group yet, but now that I am retired, I may join the group more often next season.
Why Physical Activity Is Important to Cindy B:
I want to stay healthy and active so I can see my grandchildren grow up and get married! Maybe I’ll even be a great grandparent someday! I think that is more important to me now because, after my diagnosis, I didn’t think that was possible. It’s looking more and more possible!
Why Physical Activity Is Important to Cindy W:
Now that I’m retired, I really don’t have any specific goals with my exercise, but I suspect I’ll do more. A few weeks ago, when it was so nice, I got my morning run in and then later in the day I thought, “It’s so beautiful out, I’m going to go for another walk.” So I was getting in eight or nine miles a day! Plus, I’d still go down and row in the afternoon. Maybe I did a little too much... but I think I’ll find the right balance.
I think one of the reasons I have been so active is that I have always struggled with my weight... and I feel that if I stop moving I’m just going to gain weight. Granted, I’m still gaining some weight as I get older but I hope that I am slowing it a little... especially so I can have that bowl of ice cream!
People that I know who don’t exercise will often tell me that they don’t have the time. But we’ve all got the same amount of time. That’s why I get up at 3 o’clock in the morning and work out! I make the time!
Thank you to Cindy Becker and Cindy Walvoord for sharing your comments with us!
Plan on joining the ST&BF Indoor Row Group for our 2023/24 season which will run from November 1st through April 30th! In the meantime, some current team members will continue to row year-round (some with the use of our Concept2 ergometers that team members can “adopt” over the off-season) while others will focus on other activities!