My Breast Cancer Rehab

By Lucy Pattullo, APPI client

My diagnosis

I’m 48 and have always been interested in exercise and wellbeing. I have done Pilates for many years – together with lots of other sports. I thought I was pretty healthy – so it was quite a shock to be diagnosed with breast cancer in summer 2021.
I had a bilateral mastectomy with an immediate reconstruction, followed by 15 sessions of radiotherapy to my chest and ongoing endocrine treatment.

I wanted to return to exercise

I had heard that many women really struggle to return to exercise after breast cancer. But I knew getting back to modified exercise would help me. Not just with the immediate recovery from surgery, but also with my mental health and my ability to manage the side effects of medication (which can include aching muscles and joints).

I found it hard to be limited to what exercise I could do

So having been an APPI regular for many years, it was the obvious place for me to come.
I was determined to start to help my body recover from the surgery and rebuild some strength, but I wasn’t sure what I could safely do.
I couldn’t just rock up at my regular reformer class as I needed a tailored rehabilitation programme – exercises which would be at a suitable level. A programme that would progress me, but not be too much of a challenge. So the Pink Ribbon programme was the perfect option.

The Pink Ribbon programme was tailored to my needs

6 weeks after the surgery I hadn’t done any weight bearing exercise through my arms, and my chest, back and shoulder muscles were all tight. I was also still having radiotherapy – but the Pink Ribbon programme was tailored to address all of these problems.
Initially I was frustrated that I could no longer work at the level I had been capable of before, so it was particularly valuable to have a targeted programme where I could see progress each session. Richu was able to tailor and adjust the exercises to develop the intensity as I recovered.

With a combination of the twice weekly 1 to 1 sessions in-clinic and home practice, I was able to regain flexibility and a good range of motion quite quickly. Together with Physio and lymphatic drainage therapies, this helped with my scar healing and sensation as my arms and chest were able to move more freely. I could also see I was getting stronger.

Returning to group classes

After the Pink Ribbon programme I have been able to return to group Pilates and yoga classes at APPI, with some additional 1 to 1s to work on ongoing rehabilitation specific to my long-term recovery goals.

Working in fitness

I have often thought about getting a qualification in the fitness arena, but I kept putting it off.
After completing the Pink Ribbon programme, I realised the power of Pilates to help keep our bodies strong – so that we can deal with whatever comes our way. So I have now signed up to study to be an APPI qualified Pilates instructor.