Healthy Living: Daily dose of exercise key for woman living with stage 4 cancer

Sometimes the best medicine isn't medicine at all.

"Everyday, this is my treatment and I look forward to this treatment," Dana Manciagli said of her daily exercise routine at Life Time in Bellevue.

Dana is living with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, which means the cancer has spread to other parts of her body.  While there are treatments for metastatic breast cancer, there is no cure.

Dana Manciagli

"I don't think about the statistics," Manciagli said.  "But I do often think about the ball and chain."

It's estimated, the average survival rate for women who go on from early stage breast cancer to develop metastatic breast cancer is about three years.  Manciagli has already surpassed that.  Something she credits in part to daily exercise routine.

"It took me a while to get into it after chemo," Manciagli said.  "I chalk it up as I've got to take vitamins, take pills , take shots and enjoy exercise as part of heeling and accepting what I'm living with."

Inside the lab at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, teams have found regular, moderate exercise can reduce a woman's risk for developing cancer by 20 percent.  Researchers also say there is evidence, regular exercise can benefit women who have already been diagnosed.

"There are quite a few trials that show women who exercise have better quality of life after breast cancer diagnosis," Dr. Anne McTiernan, the lead researcher of the study at Fred Hutch said. "They have fewer symptoms, fewer of the problem symptoms women deal with like fatigue and sleep problems."

In addition, other studies have revealed exercise can reduce pain from treatment, speed up healing after surgery, fight nausea and boost energy levels.

Dana lost her twin sister, Tracy to the same type of cancer she is now facing.  Losing Tracy means Dana's focus is firmly on family, on her business, helping veterans find jobs, and on staying positive, no matter what.

Dana and her twin sister Tracy who passed away from cancer

Manciagli knows cancer is a heavy weight, but with the right steps, and attitude, it's a load she's determined to lighten.