Getting Back After Cancer Treatment

This week marks 6 months since my last treatment. It also coincides with my 60th birthday. I’ve been back at the gym since early September. It’s been pretty much 5 days a week since. Pushing through fatigue has been the biggest hurdle, especially in the beginning. But that has abated a bit and I am now able to go all out in my lifting routine. What’s funny is that I’m getting close to what I was lifting in some exercises (pull), but still nowhere near what I was doing in others (push).
Stamina, however, is still a problem. I used to like to finish my lifting sessions banging a few rounds on the heavy bag. Unfortunately, I am still getting winded after about 30 seconds.

I mention in the previous post that when I was 142 lbs the doctor told me not to expect to gain much more weight. I’m happy to report that I’ve been over 160 lbs for the last couple of weeks, which is just about 5 lbs from the lower end of my normal weight range. However, I’m not sure where the weight is going. In this picture taken over the weekend, I’m less than 5 lbs from where I was in the “before” picture above. To me, it looks like there would be at least a 20 lb difference.

Anyway, the gym is wonderful thing; if you ever find yourself in the same situation, get back to it as soon as you’re able.


Wow. Kudos to your dedication and effort.

I’m no expert, so I’m just shooting off at the mouth here…but the experts in the Bodybuilding forum who actually compete always say that “normal” people do not realize how much of a difference 5 lbs of actual muscle (no fat) makes.

You are so lean in all your pictures that I think that is the main reason for the perceived discrepancy. Plus I think you are actually leaner in your pre-cancer picture, so that would add even more to the difference.

You’ve obviously got what it takes to get back all the way. Just a matter of time.

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Fantastic stuff, keep doing what you’re doing!
-You’re in better shape than 99% of guys over 50 let alone hitting 60 I wouldnt worry about the scale too much as long as you’re looking lean and mean -just give yourself some markers/targets for performance in the gym and a fitness or conditioning goal

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Wow, well done mate, great determination!

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Happy Birthday! and congratulations!

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I’m sure he found that to be very encouraging.

So this week marks a year since the start of my Chemotherapy and radiation treatment. I was going to wait to post until the anniversary of my last treatment, but I think that I’m as close as being back as I’m ever going to be. I have to say that I’m very happy with where I am. My weight before treatment ranged from 165 lbs to 170; I have settled in at around 162 lbs. I’m exactly where I was when I checked in in January, but as you can see, I’ve been able to gain a bit more bulk. I’m not sure why it’s not showing that on the scale.

Before I was diagnosed my work outs concentrated on strength gain, especially for the big three. For the most part I followed the 5-3-1 program. For a skinny old guy that didn’t start lifting until 52, I don’t think my numbers were all that bad: 210, 300, and 420. However, once I got back in the gym it became quickly obvious that I was never going to get that strength back. Instead, I decided to concentrate on growth. For the last month or so that has meant a rest pause scheme, where I pick a weight that I can complete at least 12 reps during the first set then rest for 15 seconds before maxing out on the next, and so on, and so on until I’m only able to finish 3 reps. I don’t know whether it is just a natural progression from where I started from, or the result of this routine, but I’ve seen a difference in my physique. Anyway, this will be my last “update” post. I just want to send an encouraging note to anyone that goes through this that it is possible to get back to where you were. If not all the way, pretty damn close.

On a side note: I can now throw away the shorts.


Well done keeping on going after such a setback. Bloody good effort mate. I hope your feeling well.

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One last update. Today marks a year since my last radiation treatment. I have indicated that although I have been able to gain back most of my muscle mass my strength is no where near what it was. However, about two month ago I started deadlifting again. I soon realized that could handle more and more weight. Before I knew it I was able to lift just over 300 lbs for reps. I decided to set a goal of 400 lbs on the anniversary of my last treatment. Last night I got up 403.


Congratulations! Job well done! Keep on kicking ass!


Excellent. Keep up the good work.

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Thata boy, congrats.

Phuque cancer!

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Keep up the great work. You are inspiring to this cancer survivor also!

Thank you. And good luck with your own journey.

First off congratulations. I have been diagnosed with Leukemia myself which has taken 1 male from each generation of my family that we know of and I’m number 4.
I was offered chemo and that has killed off my family (and acquaintances) so I am opting for diet instead. I have focused on Leviticus 11 and nowhere in there does it mention crap food and animal crackers. I have dropped it two stages doing this.
My weight training has suffered as I am fighting fatigue but being 59, I get it. I do think you have to push it and never stop. Again thanks for posting as you are an inspiration, one who is doing, instead of talking.

Thank you and good luck on your own journey. Stamina is still an issue that I have to deal with. Although, not so much in day to day life, I still have problems with sustained activities.

I’m going to step out of my lane here. Please reconsider not using traditional cancer treatments. Here’s an article you might want to consider reading Cancer 'Remedies' That Don't Work

Again, good luck to you.

An update. I’ve given up trying to gain my strength back in the squat and bench press. I have a bit of an excuse for the bench in that I hurt my shoulder in a motorcycle accident last year and it’s still not completely healed. Not sure why my squat won’t improve. Pre cancer my PR was 300; post cancer I struggle at 225. However, today I matched my pre cancer PR of 420 lbs in the deadlift (I do have proof, but the video won’t upload). I follow the 5-3-1 program. Last month my cycle ended with a 420 final rep. Rather than just matching my PR I decided to up it to 425. Not even close. Rather than try again on this cycle I opted to show some patience and go with the 420. Which is probably just as well, because I haven’t met my last set minimums on the 5 and 3 days for the last two cycles. I’ve been stuck at 4 (370 lbs) and 2 (395) reps respectively.

On the weight front I have settled in at just over 160 lbs. I had it up to over 165, but I lost a bit of weight after coming down with a 24 hr virus about 4 months ago. For some reason I haven’t been able to gain in back.


Checking in at the four year mark. Still getting at it. Here celebrating my son’s graduation with his sister at a local watering hole where the sell fruity tropical drinks in buckets.


Bambiwithhorns just posted about getting back to the gym after cancer treatment. His journey sounds very similar to mine. Sunday marks 5 years for me, the supposedly magic benchmark for my type of cancer. Make it this far and the chance of the cancer coming back is slim. Seems pretty arbitrary to me, but I’ll take it. Still hitting the gym 5 days a week, but I am no longer going heavy on the big 3. There are some other reasons, but the main being the loss of momentum after the gyms closed due to Covid. Anyway, my final, to hell with cancer strongman pose.


Glad to see you still lurking around the forum.

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