If you are going to have a stem cell transplant – either using your own or donated stem cells – I personally think the best thing you can do to insure a positive outcome and speedy recovery is to get in as good a physical shape as possible pre-transplant. Then, after the transplant you need to start walking as soon as possible and for as much as possible.
You certainly don’t need to be running a marathon, just be walking at least a mile a day. As you recover and get stronger, you can gradually increase the distances of your daily walks. At first, your walks will really wipe you out; but don’t let that stop you! Keep at it and you will get better and stronger. Your doctors and nurses will also be encouraging you to do this. I believe daily walking also reduces the chances of some side effects and infections from your transplant.
At the Duke Cancer Institute and their Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Center where I had both of my stem cell transplants, they have measured that 17 laps up and down the hallway of the transplant wing in the hospital equals a mile. Twenty days after I received my brother’s stem cells, I was going to be released from the hospital to move to an apartment and then visit the clinic every day for the next two months. So the night before I was to be discharged from the hospital, they disconnected my IV tube from my catheter. I was so thrilled at the prospect of getting out of the hospital I was wide awake at 3:00am. Because it was quiet and I didn’t want to bother anyone, I went into the hallway and shuffled/jogged the mile distance. Believe me, I could barely move after that, but it was so worth it because it was my way of saying “f*#% you, leukemia!! You are not going to beat me!!” When my doctor and nurses learned what I did at just twenty days post-transplant, they didn’t know what to say.
Now that it has been fourteen months since my transplant, I have built up to a three mile loop through my neighborhood that I do every morning. In fact I can now run about 2 ½ miles of it, and walk the rest. I am certainly not setting any speed records and it really does tire me out, but I can do it! And you can too! Just do a little bit each day and keep at it and gradually build it up. It really does wonders for your mental outlook on everything.