A triathlon after cancer treatment?

A triathlon after cancer treatment? No sweat for Shaliza!

Setting goals is the first step in anybody’s rehabilitation journey.

"I was half joking when I told the rehab team my goal was to complete a triathlon,” Shaliza Shukor said. “I didn’t really know if this was possible or where to even start.”

After 9 months of extensive surgery and treatment for cancer at Epworth Eastern, Shaliza came to Epworth Hawthorn for oncology rehabilitation in September 2017. She was guided by exercise physiologist - Tamara Luke, physiotherapist - Jemma Keeves and a wider team of dietitians and psychologists involved in her program.

“Shaliza was really deconditioned following oncology treatment and was unsure of her capabilities. She had lost confidence in exercising and was only able to walk 20 to 30 minutes before fatigue stopped her,” Tamara said.

“We built a program for Shaliza around her goal of competing in as triathlon and to get back to the activities she enjoyed doing before her diagnosis. With our help and her determination, Shaliza overcame fatigue, regained physical strength and normal movement patterns. Most importantly, she built confidence in herself and her ability to exercise again.”

Fast forward five months later and Shaliza competed in her first triathlon, Triathlon Pink, a breast cancer fundraising event – with Jemma and Tamara right by her side!

“From the outset we told Shaliza that if she got to the point where she was committing to the triathlon, we would come and see her achieve that,” Jemma said.

“Shaliza competed in the 100m swim, 3km bike and 1km run. To see the smile on her face when she was just about to start the swim leg, and to see her smiling even harder after the completion of the event really made our day.

“Every week we worked on getting her fitter and stronger and when the day finally arrived, she was able to achieve her goal and complete the triathlon. Shaliza was always so positive. She never missed a session and always walked through the gym doors with a smile on her face regardless of what she was going through in her work and home life.”

“After my treatment, I had no energy and could barely read a book to my son,” Shaliza said. “I never thought I’d be able to compete in a triathlon. When it came to the running leg, I didn’t think I was going to make it, but the girls ran by my side and pushed me to the end. I was thrilled when I crossed the finish line!”

“When you go through cancer treatment, you get bombarded with information and it’s hard to know what source you can trust. The oncology rehabilitation program gave me the tools and techniques to rebuild my life and regain my mental and physical strength; to know what to eat to fuel my body and to learn that it’s ok to pace myself and not do everything at once!”

Pictured 1: Shaliza at the finish line.

Picture 2: Jemma and Tamara with Shaliza after the Triathlon Pink event.