Patricia Carswell |

Rowing during cancer treatment

A cancer diagnosis is never welcome, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of your rowing. With sensible precautions and a supportive medical team, you may well be able to continue exercising and even rowing through your treatment and beyond. Patricia Carswell talks to a medical expert and shares her own and others’ experiences

When I first heard the words, “You’ve got cancer”, my first thought was of all the rowing I was going to miss out on. I assumed that I’d be banished to the sofa, and it didn’t occur to me that I might get out on the water.

In fact, thanks to wise advice from experts and fellow rowers, I was able to keep on rowing, despite having a mastectomy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. It made my experience of cancer treatment immeasurably more bearable, both physically and mentally.

Physician, heal thyself

Exercise is a powerful weapon in your arsenal, according to Dr Liz O’Riordan, co-author of the award-winning book, The Complete Guide to Breast Cancer. A now-retired consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon with a PhD in molecular oncology, Liz has had breast cancer herself twice and is a passionate advocate for patients. She’s also a triathlete, outdoor swimmer and strength training enthusiast.

“Aerobic and resistance exercise will halve the risk of recurrence for most of the large cancers”

Liz discovered the benefits of exercising through cancer treatment first hand, and is keen for everyone to understand that, sensibly done, exercise – particularly resistance training – can have huge benefits for cancer patients.


Free to all
British Rowing Members

Unlimited access to the latest articles, features and advice.

Log in with your existing British Rowing membership account details, or sign up to a membership today from less than £3/month.

Log In Sign up today