How A Top National Cyclist Is Battling Cancer
I had the pleasure of a short interview and telehealth physio session with Magnus Manson, the 2018 national downhill champion. A side from throwing himself down mountains at extreme speeds; he has instilled the same courage with his approach to fighting cancer. Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in July of 2021, Magnus has been able to maintain exercise as medicine through-out treatment. In addition, Magnus has been able to maintain a training schedule getting on both his road and downhill mountain bikes as much as possible.
What has helped Magnus cope with cancer?
Magnus affirms that the support system of his family always helps the most on the bad days, while doing the things he loves helps fill his cup on the good days. He credits flow states to keeping his spirits up. Whether the flow state is focusing on riding down the mountain at extreme speeds, playing racing video games or just sitting in quiet with the uncomfortable meditating; being mindful has helped immensely. Exercise as medicine has also been very important to Magnus; aiming to maintain some strength and aerobic capacity in his body through out all the ups and downs. Being a competitive athlete it’s important that he learns to trust his body again and continue to invest in it. Magnus states that exercise has “given me a sense of control; it’s like investing in the future and also such a part of my athletic identity”. As the cancer journey has ups and downs, for Magnus exercise as medicine often changes forms. Post chemo and the few days that follow often involve minor pain but more so nausea and fatigue, Magnus finds breathing exercises and yoga to be most helpful. The higher energy days Magnus fully capitalizes on and they trinkle in a week or so post chemotherapy; Magnus often finds he has stamina to get in a road ride, practice some downhill drills or work on his strength.
What has exercising with cancer been like?
“Being a national level athlete who is typically undergoing an intense training schedule sure doesn’t make exercising with cancer any easier” Magnus states. A few months prior to diagnosis, Magnus was experiencing poor recovery post training along with unusual fatigue. He felt these symptoms instilled self-doubt and concern; athletes are always trying to push themselves to the limits. Obtaining an official diagnosis was “almost a sense of relief” he states. Now focusing on what he can control, Magnus takes full advantage of the good days, “flushing his system” through a good sweat and some downhill trails. Consistent strength training has been a challenge; often training has resulted in some muscle soreness and fatigue. Knowing how hard to push, and when to push has been a learning curve, but Magnus feels that each day he is learning and adjusting. I had the pleasure of providing some clinical counsel sharing with Magnus how to judge exercise intensity, using a variety of rehab tools such as tracking his white blood cell count.
The cancer journey continues for this amazing athlete, but his goals remain simple; Magnus hopes to keep riding as much as possible and maintain his fitness through consistent exercise. He also hopes to use his situation to inspire others #conqueryourchallenge and that he has with his recent fundraising endeavour for the @steviesmithdh foundation, raising close to $ 20 000. It was such a pleasure to treat and hear this amazing story, thanks for your honesty and strength Magnus. Follow Magnus Manson's adventures on Instagram - @magnusmanson.
Nadine Stunzi, Registered Physiotherapist - Cancer
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