Sometimes it is quite staggering what the human body and mind can achieve.
Being diagnosed with stage four bone cancer three weeks after her 54th birthday was a life-changing experience for Eastbourne business woman Vibeke Ulman.
On February 7, 2013 a tumour the size of a golf ball was detected in her breast and she was told it was stage two breast cancer.
Further tests were carried out, the bone cancer was detected and Vibeke was told if no action was taken, her life expectancy was a matter of months rather than years.
“Obviously it was extremely sobering to hear those words but my attitude was no, I still have too much to do, there is still more I want to achieve in my life.
“To put it simply, I didn’t have time for cancer.”
Seven months on and Vibeke, who was born in Denmark and moved to Eastbourne in 2004, is feeling healthy. The tumour in her breast has reduced and she is managing her bone cancer which she describes as ‘treatable but not curable.’
With the help of her personal trainer Jon Morgan, she has embarked on a programme at the Sovereign Centre that has enabled her to deal with the debilitating pains associated with bone cancer.
When she first arrived at the gym, following her diagnosis, she could barely lift her leg. She would suffer from terrible aches and cramps throughout her body with movement in her neck, shoulders, knees, hips, pelvis and hands severely restricted.
“I was as weak as a babe when I first came here, I couldn’t even lift a leg when Jon sat me on an exercise ball,” she explained.
“But I have seen so much progress and I can do 20 karate kicks with each leg, no worries!
“I have lost two-and-a-half stone in weight, I have my youthful figure back and generally my well being is excellent and I don’t feel sick.
“I look on it as an illness, you have to manage it as if it is diabetes. There are some things you have to eat, some things you cannot eat, some medicines you have to take and exercises you have to do. It’s all part of the treatment.
“I don’t want cancer to take control of my life, I will deal with it thank you very much.” Alongside medical treatment that includes radiotherapy, inhibitors to shrink the breast tumour, bone filling injections and calcium tablets, Vibeke is at the gym three times a week.
Her trainer John added, “She is an inspiration to everyone in what she has achieved and how she has gone about it.
“Not only the physical changes but psychologically as well, it has a massive benefit and it continually astounds me what she is able to do despite the serious nature of her condition.
“Vibeke has good days and bad days and we have to factor that in but we have achieved huge results from weight loss to body composition and her range of movement. She is a credit, absolutely amazing.”
Asked if she was going home to relax following her workout on Tuesday. She responded, “Not likely, I’m off to America on business on Thursday and there is lots to prepare.”
Against Breast Cancer
Against Breast Cancer is a charity dedicated to funding research to improve detection and increase survival rates after breast cancer diagnosis.
Their work includes a study of 3,500 women and how diet and lifestyle correlates with their breast cancer condition. They are also funding research into a simple blood test that can easily detect when breast cancer returns for a second time.
Wendy Taylor Hill, the director of Against Breast Cancer, said,
“The diet and lifestyle research is crucial in order to provide better information to people with breast cancer. We want to give people the best chance of tackling it. Any changes they can make to improve their situation is a huge benefit.
“The blood test will also enable people who have had breast cancer an easy way to see if it is likely to come back. That way it can be dealt with at the earliest stage. It is still in the research stage at the moment but it could make a huge difference.”