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Climbing and other sports


Re: Climbing and other sports

Hi, I am a keen surfer and I was worried I would have to give up after my mastectomy and full nodes clearance. But after about a year (including reconstruction with implant, chemo- and radiotherapy) I am surfing again. I am a little less ambitious but I am soooooo happy I can still paddle and push myself up on the board. I am wearing a thick wetsuit, which may help.


Re: Climbing and other sports

I don't climb - but for me it was doing weights I had to plan for return (upper body)

I did a lot of reading around on line - I found a blog from a weight lifting lady who had had a mastectomy that was very useful about planning a return to weights, and cancerfitme was motivational, but lacking in detail (although, as they point out, that would be impossible to advise on)

So - I got going on walking/ jogging again (double bra-ed), and carefully listening to my body (not something I normally do - I usually power on through!), and started lower body/ glute/ core work.  As my wounds healed I then have slowly started reintroducing upper body weights - but oh so carefully (and I have learnt to stop at the slightest twinge); and I did find that some weights I thought would be ok, weren't (more to do with the fascia they cut in the op, rather than the muscles I think).  Unsurprisingly, lat flys are still problematic.

Frustratingly, radiotherapy has knocked me back (both for muscle strength and inability to do some exercises with pain, but also fatigue), but back to getting going again now!

I did the stretching exercises post op religiously x3/day which must have helped as well btw.


Carrying a backpack has proved an issue - and caught me out during/ after radio.  So I am avoiding for now - more discomfort.  I worry about lymphoedema also - apparently walking poles will help when I get to that point, and I am looking for a compression arm sleeve too (I know they are around - runners andcyclists use them)


Hope this is helpful - enjoy your return to the mountains


Re: Climbing and other sports

Hi @Trish9,

It's been a while since you posted, so I hope that you were successful in returning to climb.


I’m 33 years old, 5’1”, 125 lbs and used to wear a 32C sized bra.  I had triple negative breast cancer in my right breast and 1 right lymph node in my armpit.  I did 8 sessions of chemo from December 2019 to March 2020 (A/C and then taxol), a double mastectomy in April with 3 lymph nodes removed on my right side and a tissue expander put into my left side, then did 25 treatments radiation over June and July.


I’ve been climbing for about 2 years now, around a V2/3 level bouldering 5.11 top roping and haven’t had any issues returning to climbing after my mastectomy or radiation.  I did start slow with walking, and the physio movements before getting into beginner climbs.  Worked on that until  now I just feel a bit of strain through my armpit and side when I need to reach straight over my head, but it hasn’t really stopped me in anyway.  I also do a bit of yoga and weight lifting which has helped with range of motion and strength.



Re: Climbing and other sports

Hi Jo


I've just passed my 13 year anniversary after Triple Negative BC, mastectomy and node clearance which gave me slight lymphoedema.  I took up dragon boating - look for a club near you.  Its now an international organisation the IBCPC.  Its a great form of exercise and you can tailor it to your own ability, i.e. full strength or lower strength or just sit in the boat for support. 

Google Breast Cancer Dragon Boat paddling and there might be a team near you.  I'm based in Manchester with Paddlers for Life Manchester Dragoneers.  

We're off to New Zealand in 2022 to take part in the Celebration of Life Breast Cancer Dragon Boating festival.




Re: Climbing and other sports

Hi Jo,


thanks loads for your response. Great to hear your story ... Very encouraging. 

I am obviously worried about the full node clearance .. as this puts me at a higher risk of Lymphoedema. That’s why I’m keen to hear from others. Thanks also for the link to the website ... i didn’t know about I before.

Good luck with the chemo. Like most things in this game, best not to worry too much about all the potential side effects as if like me, you will not experience most of them. I kept walking throughout my chemo .. but didnt do any other sports ... and some days those walks were very short. But helps the head as well as the body .. to get outside.


trish x


Re: Climbing and other sports



I had a mastectomy 3 years ago (although only had 2 nodes removed compared to your full clearance) and am just going through chemo (with rads to come) for a recurrence. 

I do a lot of mountaineering, kayaking/canoeing, cycling, running so I think quite similar to you. After surgery 3 years ago it was a case of building up things slowly but I got back to doing everything I was doing before my initial diagnosis. I struggled with fatigue as I pushed myself too hard too soon but once I'd got my head around trying to take it slowly I managed to build everything back up. It was hard as I lost a lot of confidence as I didn't feel like I was getting anywhere but you just have to take it slow.

I was sore carrying a rucksack when out in the mountains certainly to start with and then occasionally in the year or so afterwards, and I just managed that by using my waist belt to carry most of the load and loosening the shoulder strap to take the weight and pressure off my affected side which worked. And with kayaking it was a case of building up the upper body strength again gradually both on the water and with some physio, being very mindful of any symptoms of lymphoedema.

I'm very lucky I have a good medical team who understand how important being outdoors is to me and they have helped me to work out how to get back to full fitness. And I'm being encouraged to keep doing as much as I can (very carefully!) through chemo. The key thing is listening to your body. I'm rubbish at that, but its just being careful and taking things slowly and not pushing too hard to start with. Hopefully I'll get it right the second time around!


A useful website is: http://www.cancerfit.me/site/index.php


Hope that is useful in some way...happy to chat if you have any questions. Good luck getting back to everything!




Climbing and other sports

Hi there,

I’ve not finished my treatment yet. So far had chemo, and a maestectomy with full lymph removal. I have radiotherapy to come.


Before all his i was a keen sporty person ... swimming, cycling, mountaineering and climbing. I’m sure there are other people who can advise on how they have found returning to sports, and in particular climbing?? Is there any formal advise ... websites or stuff? I haven’t found any. 


Thanks, Trish x