Chemo, Cancer and Cleans – by Charlie Fouracres

We’re honoured to have Charlie Fouracres back again, this time to speak directly to her experience of how training helped get her through chemotherapy. If you missed her last post, it’s great for boosting your motivation! She was also featured in the Daily Mail this past weekend, on a story about new evidence which suggests that the risk of developing breast cancer for breast augmentation patients is much higher than previously thought. 

Charlie and her girls. Image ©RUSSELL SACH for the Daily Mail- 0771 882 6138

In the last year I have had eleven cycles of chemotherapy. Some cycles were worse than others. Some cycles wiped me out for days, other cycles barely affected me. I remember half way through my treatment having a really bad reaction that wiped me out for a good four days. I was sofa-bound with a killer migraine and dosed up on painkillers that sent me in and out of reality. That was probably one of of the worst cycles. It took me nearly two weeks to feel ‘normal’ again after that…just in time for another cycle a week later!

I made sure I got to the gym as often as I could, however I felt. On my bad days I would just go to the gym and row. If I felt a little stronger I would squat. On my better days I would clean! Squats, cleans and deadlifts are probably my favourite movements. They are my three strongest.

Sometimes we get so bogged down in what we can’t do that we lose the passion for what we do like doing. Every time I went to the box there was always something I couldn’t do. Either I wasn’t strong enough, the movement made me feel sick, the tumour was painful or my head just wasn’t in it!

I could have let this wear me down. I already had a tumour taking over my body, it would have been easy to have let it mess with my mind too. But I wasn’t prepared to let the cancer completely take over everything in my life. My training was still mine and I still had a choice in what I could do. So I stuck to cleans, squats and deadlifts. I felt safe with these. I felt comfortable with these. I felt protected from the cancer with these.

When we train in such a competitive environment surrounded by athletes out of a normal gym goer’s league, it is difficult to stay in love with fitness without beating yourself up. So when you are finding it tough, when you are losing sight of what it is you like doing, take a step back and look at the wider picture.

Unless you are a professional athlete following a specific training program, does it matter if you can’t do muscle ups? Does it matter if you can’t do double unders? Does it matter that you are using a technique bar? No, none of it matters unless you are enjoying it!

Whilst I was ill there was so much that I couldn’t do it would have been easy to have fallen out of love with exercise. But I stayed true to my roots and my passion remained. Now I am done with the chemo… it’s time to tackle bigger lifts!


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