Kick cancer to the curb, faster

By Anna Yee

May 7, 2013 Updated May 7, 2013 at 10:57 PM CDT

MORTON, Ill. -- You might not be able to tell looking at Dani Dison, but she's recovering from cancer.

The 39-year-old from Creve Coeur says she has no family history of cancer, o existing health issues, doesn't smoke or drink, and stays as active as, well, a bodybuilder.

"Fitness is pretty much my entire life," said Dison. "I started getting into figure competitions about six years ago... so, to have that taken away was a big deal for me."

In January of 2012, Dison was diagnosed with breast cancer.

But unlike most mastectomy and reconstructive surgery patients, she was back in the gym three days later.

"You're diagnosed with it. You really can't do anything about it, so you might as well face it, deal with it head on, and move on," said Dison. "The world shouldn't stop just because you've been diagnosed with this."

Working out with her husband cut down Dison's recovery time, dramatically.

"We encourage that they get up. They move around. They mobilize themselves, said Dr. Denise Mammolito, Dison's breast surgeon at Peoria Surgical Group. "Things can occur after surgery, because they're lying on the couch, not doing anything. They can develop pneumonia. They can develop blood clots in their legs."

Dison's doctors recommend easing into a workout routine, if you don't already have one.

But, they say diving into a healthier diet is something you can do immediately, whether you're recovering from cancer or trying to prevent it.

"Anyone can eat healthy," said Dison. "Obviously, cutting out fast food and processed foods. You never know what kind of chemicals they put in that stuff, so just try to stick with fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meat. Lots of protein always helps."

For Dison, staying healthy grounds her and keeps her focused on the positive.

"I think there's plenty of data developing now show that people who are happy tend to bounce back from surgery quicker," said Dr. Glyn Jones, Dison's plastic surgeon at Peoria Surgical Group. "Their relationships are stronger, and they have slightly lower reoccurrence rates."

Take it from Dani's husband Bill, who says, "During that whole time, I think I was stronger from her being strong, because of her positive attitude. She never ever quits. She never ever admits defeat... She's my hero. I love her. The way she went through everything. It was amazing."

And now Bill isn't afraid to sport pink at the gym, a color both he and his wife will wear proudly at this year's Race for the Cure, the first and certainly not last race as a team of survivors.

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