Over the last six months, I have been doing Pink Pilates and it has been fantastic for me in helping overcome the side effects of breast surgeries and chemotherapy. I encourage you to try the Pink Pilates programme if you have any remaining effects from breast cancer. Thank you to everyone at Pink Pilates, the Pink Pilates Trust and Bodyright Studios in Petone. Here’s a little bit about the programme.
What is Pilates?
Pilates involves movements designed to improve strength, flexibility, posture and coordination. It combines awareness of the body and correct breathing with exercises to achieve slimmer, longer, stronger muscles without building bulk. The pilates method was developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s and is a favourite exercise for dancers and athletes as well as those looking to improve the performance of their body. Pilates is very effective in rehabilitation as it gently reeducates the body to move correctly, helping repair injuries.
What is Pink Pilates?
Pink Pilates is dedicated to helping women diagnosed with breast cancer regain their physical strength, improve their body confidence and incorporate exercise into their lifestyle. Their goal is to help women recovering from breast cancer surgery or treatments by offering personalised therapeutic programmes. These include a complementary blend of: Pilates /physiotherapy/ massage / stretching and breathing techniques.
For each woman, the Pink Pilates Programme consists of a course of individually designed and delivered treatment sessions with a qualified physiotherapist. The programme addresses the physical conditions and side effects of chemotherapy, radiation and hormone therapy. It can also help reduce the risks of treatment-related side effects such as lymphoedema, shoulder problems, scar tissue formation, fatigue, and weight gain.
I started doing Pink Pilates through Bodyright Pilates studio five years ago after having surgery to remove a breast lump and lymph nodes under my arm. Many women who’ve had this surgery will testify to ‘problem arms’, scarring, tightness in the chest area and lymphoedema. These issues sometimes are the annoying reminders of breast cancer long term.
Last year, I returned to Pink Pilates after having a mastectomy and TRAM flap breast reconstruction from tissue in my tummy. I have had a few issues re-learning to use my tummy muscles again after the surgery plus a lot of tightness around my shoulder, arm and back. I also had been having lots of headaches especially from the chemo and Herceptin treatments.
So I applied to be seen under the Pink Pilates programme and also applied for funding under the Pink Pilates Trust. The Pink Pilates Trust’s mission is to inspire and allow all women with cancer the opportunity to rehabilitate and regain their confidence and strength. The Trust raises funds to support at least 2000 women each year.
My programmes started with a thorough assessment of my body by a physiotherapist and pilates instructor. Then three one one one sessions with a pilates instructor and physio to go through my individual problem areas.
- When I first went, the pilates instructor realised that I wasn’t breathing properly. I was breathing from my upper chest instead of my tummy. It took me a while to learn to breath properly but now it is just a habit. That loosens up tension in the whole torso.
- My hip flexors were compensating for the altered tummy muscle situation. I had to relearn to use my pelvic floor and remaining tummy muscles to stablise myself instead of using my hip flexors. That took heaps of tension out of my back and neck.
- After the reconstruction surgery, I have had a lot of cramps in my back from tightness in my shoulder and chest. I had to focus on stretching out my back, arm and chest much more (these exercises build on the physio exercises given to you post-surgery)
- Next I learned how to do a whole serious of exercises to release tension in my shoulder, back and neck, and move my shoulder blades properly when I am breathing.
- I have exercises to do at home each day.
My series of funded sessions ran out before Christmas. Then a donor donated five more sessions for me which was incredible. Thank you whoever you are.
Now, I am a convert to pilates. I go to Bodyright Pilates studio in Petone and see Kate. I thoroughly recommend her and this studio. They are very warm and welcoming and used to seeing breast cancer survivors in all stages of healing and recovery. I have really gone from strength to strength with their direction.
My milestone on Saturday was going to a full hour pilates class and being able to do most of it. The tummy exercises are still the hardest but I am getting there. I was very proud of myself and I am fitter than I thought.
For all cancer survivors
Pink Pilates used to be just for breast cancer survivors but now is for all cancer survivors so please tell your friends. All women with cancer are eligible to participate in the Pink Pilates Programme, from the newly diagnosed to women 25+ years after their initial cancer diagnosis.. It is suitable after any type of cancer surgery or treatment and accommodates all fitness levels.
The Pink Pilates Trust
The Pink Pilates Trust is a registered charitable trust working to improve the quality of life of New Zealand and Australian women affected with cancer. The aim of the Trust is to make the Pink Pilates programme as accessible and affordable to as many women diagnosed with cancer as possible. A cancer diagnosis is disruptive financially for many women and their families. The Trust was set up so people can contribute in a practical and meaningful way.
The Pink Pilates Trust raises funds through fundraising activities and events, donations and T-shirt sales. Proceeds raised contribute to the subsidised funding we offer participants of the Pink Pilates programme.
So please tell your friends about Pink Pilates and the Pink Pilates Trust and please give generously to the Trust if you can.
Thank you Pink Pilates, the Pink Pilates Trust and Bodyright Pilates Studios.