Recently I had a patient with breast cancer who was so determined to fight her disease and get better. She is young and dynamic. She was prepared to do anything to beat this.
She had a large-ish tumour and so we recommended chemotherapy before surgery.
I explained that the chemotherapy normally takes 18 weeks. Normally you have 2 doses of chemotherapy in a week and then 2 weeks to recover before the next 2 doses.
Then she asked something that I’ve never been asked before: could she have her chemotherapy every week so that her treatment would go quicker? She really wanted to get on and get better!
The way chemotherapy works is that it kills any cells that are in the process of growing and dividing when the dose is given. Cancer cells tend to grow more quickly than the body’s normal cells, so more of them get killed. The other cells in the body that grow really quickly are hair follicles, your immune system and the lining of your gut, so that’s why chemo can make your hair fall out and make you sick.
The 2 week gap is long enough for your body’s normal cells to recover enough to tolerate the next dose. Usually the body recovers better that the cancer, and the cancer eventually reduces.
But without the recovery period, for this type of chemotherapy, you would die.
The recovery time is just as important as the treatment!!
Once she understood this my patient was fine and actually she had a great result from her chemo with virtually no cancer left at surgery.
Why am I telling you this story?
Just to highlight to you how marvelous the body is, how it can withstand massive traumas and given time it will recover. But it does need to be given time to rest and recover.
And so it is with running.
The body needs time to recover.
Like my patient, we tend to think that more of a good thing (medicine or exercise) must be better, but that isn’t so. It works best interspersed with recovery time.
So don’t think that recovery time is wasted. It is essential!