I had the privilege of cycling with Rob recently, he’s 69 but has the energy and cheeky nature of a 4 year old!
He told us he had just survived a two year battle with prostate cancer. He had decided to go radiation rather than invasive surgery. That meant starting a six month course of ADT drugs (antigen deprivation treatment) to shut down testosterone production. That resulted in massive hormone changes causing skeletal muscle loss and strength. By a lucky chance at an early prostate support group meeting, a researcher from the UQ was looking for volunteers for a research program into the long term damaging effects of the ADT drugs. Being told he would have access to a nutritionist, exercise physiologist plus a 10 week exercise program at the end of the year long testing program Rob immediately signed up.
The reality of the rapid deterioration of muscle strength took Rob by surprise when he decided to go bodyboard surfing down the Gold Coast and nearly drowned trying to get out the back through a heavy dumping surf. No more physical activity for quite a while.
Following the weeks of radiation, Rob started the exercise program and was quite surprised then disappointed to find he was not going to be doing strength training in the gym, but would be doing HIIT training on a stationary WATT bike three times a week for 10 weeks. He almost pulled out of the program as it hadn’t been explained initially how important increasing cardio vascular was before starting any strength exercise. But on finishing Rob immediately was able to jump on his old mountain bike and started doing long rides never before possible. That immediately saw him upgrade to a proper road bike, lighter and faster, and start doing longer rides. He has even conquered the Mt Coot-tha circuit several times although with a few heart-rate reducing stops, and has signed up for the MS charity ride in June.
The cancer recovery also meant a total rethink about diet. He said he had thought he was on a high fibre diet but was guided to research and found the Mediterranean diet most successful for long term survival and remaining cancer free. One of the pivotal moments was emptying the cupboards of all processed foods - he nearly filled a bin with packaged and bottled inappropriate foodstuff. Rob is now a weekly shopper at the Powerhouse Farmers Markets each Saturday. Since the end of the cancer treatment and change of diet he has lost some 12 kilos, and never been so fit and energised in years.
He said cycling has given him an enormous motivation as he had to find a physical activity through which he could slowly regain his strength, and it’s just a wonderful bonus that it has meant meeting other most interesting and healthy cyclists.
So keep an eye out for Rob cycling around town or up Mt-Cootha - he admitted he now LOVES a bit of high intensity stuff. He’s the one with the big grin, and enough joie de vivre to light up your day.
Rob - first time I made it up Mt Coot-tha a month back at dawn.