October 2018

How Jazzercise Helped Me Thrive During Breast Cancer

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How Jazzercise Helped Me Thrive During Breast Cancer

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, dedicated to raising awareness of breast cancer. Did you know that breast cancer is the most common cancer women may face in their lifetime? With a 1 in 8 chance of developing the disease and great strides being made in eradicating the disease, there are currently more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. 

Gina Biddle is one of them. Gina - pictured above, right, along with Jazzercise Lake Highlands Fitness Center owner Luanne Field - is a Chaplain at UT Southwestern Medical Center. She started Jazzercising 35 years ago and hasn’t stopped since. 

Gina started Jazzercise in 1983 and still does 150-300 classes a year at the Jazzercise Lake Highlands Fitness Center in Dallas, Texas. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, Gina was thrown for a loop: as a chaplain, she was used to being the caregiver at a bedside. As the patient, Gina knew from her own advice that she’d need a hopeful, positive strategy to get her through this. Her best thinking? Stick with her Jazzercise program and community.

"My Jazzercise community supported me with texts, emails and cards when I wasn’t able to attend,” Gina says. “Luanne, the owner, and some of the students even brought meals to my home when I recovered from hospitalization.”

During radiation, Gina’s radiation oncologist kept asking if she was tired or fatigued, a common side effect of radiation. Gina tells us, “I didn’t have that symptom and I believe it’s because of the Jazzercise fitness regimen.” Gina is a strong woman who achieves 10,000-15,000 steps a day, Monday through Friday, all thanks to her work and Jazzercise.

“Breast cancer will not win in my life’s journey,” says Gina. 

Exercise is a key lifestyle element in the prevention of certain diseases, cancer included. According to the American Cancer Society, 150 minutes of physical activity a week can lower overall cancer risk. And that doesn’t mean intense exercise; activity equal to walking 30 minutes a day may lower risk by 3%, says the Susan G. Komen organization. Low-impact dance aerobics is a fun way to combine fitness with community.

And while there are certain risk factors that can’t be avoided, the National Breast Cancer Foundation recommends these five healthy habits:

•    Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day
•    Exercise regularly
•    Maintain a healthy weight
•    Limit alcohol to one drink, or none, per day
•    Don’t smoke; if you do smoke, quit today

Monthly breast self-exams are also an important at-home element of breast cancer prevention. The experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine state that “forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.” Learn more about doing a monthly breast self-exam here.

Today, Gina is thriving, and breast cancer hasn’t slowed her down. 

“Jazzercise has been a lifeline for me, with unconditional love from my community,” says Gina. “It has kept me focused mentally during my work as a palliative chaplain, and healthy in my weight loss and diabetes control.”

Whether your journey includes Jazzercise or another form of exercise, we always encourage you to keep moving. And for more inspirational breast survivor stories, be sure to check out these tips for managing breast cancer and our spotlight on a Jazzercise instructor who became a Ford Motor Company “Warriors in Pink” Model of Courage. 

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