Ron Sparks Author, Poet

First Workout Post Cancer Treatment


Ever since I had my feeding tube removed, I have been waiting impatiently to go back to the gym. The doctors said I needed to wait at least 2 weeks after the removal of the tube before I could start working out again. Two weeks is actually tomorrow, but I went ahead and started back at the gym today.

Before I was diagnosed, I was a member of Metro Fitness, a 24/7 gym located in downtown Orlando. I suspended my membership once I found out I was in for a rough ride of radiation and chemotherapy – but I always looked longingly at the building as I drove through downtown. Today, I finally went back in.

Carey decided she wanted to join as well. She wants to firm up before our wedding in October. That said, we went to Target earlier in the week and bought some new workout clothes for both of us in anticipation of going to the gym today. I needed new clothes because I had lost so much weight. With a 45-pound weight loss, none of my old exercise clothes fitted any longer. Carey hadn’t been to a gym in so long that she didn’t really have any workout clothes.

After work today, we drove straight to the gym. We knew that if we went home we’d find some reason to stay and not work out tonight. After joining and dressing out, we started to work out.

Arrogantly, I told Carey we would start slow. We didn’t want to hurt ourselves too badly by overdoing it. It’s a common mistake when starting a workout program. I said this like I was some kind of expert, but inwardly I was thinking “I’m just saying this for Carey so she won’t feel bad for not being able to keep up.”

Ha. Little did I know. Carey was fine. We set a decent pace – using both free weights and the machines, as well as ending the workout on the treadmills. She did tire out more quickly than she thought she would – but by that time all my arrogance was gone. Allow me to explain.

Before cancer, I was routinely used 40-pound dumbbells to work out my biceps. I would do 5 sets of 10. It hurt by the fifth set, but I could do them.

Before cancer, I routinely bench pressed about 185-pounds for five sets of 10. I didn’t know what my maximum lift was, but I assumed it would be close to 210lbs or so. Not bad for a guy who is 5″8′.

Before cancer, I could run on the elliptical for an hour. My legs would be jelly when I was done, but I was ready to go again the next day.

I had a hard reality check tonight.

My dumbbell curls were with 15-pound weights. 5 sets if 10.

My bench press was a mere 95-pounds. One set of 10.

My butterfly curls were 3 sets of 10 at 5o-pounds.

I could only go 22-minutes on the elliptical.

In short, folks, I am WEAK. I knew I had lost a lot of muscle mass. I just didn’t realize how much. I was so disappointed in myself and, frankly, a little embarrassed. Look at the picture above – I don’t LOOK like a man who just spent the last 6 months fighting for his life against an indiscriminate killer. I don’t LOOK like I should be as weak as I am.

I was convinced that the other guys at the gym were looking at me and laughing. Of course, nothing is further from the truth, but I was embarrassed by my weakness.

A couple of things made me feel better, though. First, I was working out with my love. It’s yet another new thing we are doing together and it’s great.

Second, I was overweight before and had a hard time losing my excess weight. Now, I am at an ideal weight and have little body fat compared to what I used to have. I am “starting over.” If I persevere and take care, I can put on muscle, reduce fat, and get healthier. I am no longer at a disadvantage from 30% body fat.

I have a lot of work to do to get my strength back, but I am looking forward to the challenge. I have to get some endurance built up quickly because I am starting surfing again in a couple of weeks. I need to be able to swim and stay afloat!

About the author

Ron Sparks

Ron Sparks is a technology professional, science fiction and fantasy author and poet living in Zurich, Switzerland. His latest book "ONI: Satellite Earth Series Book 1" is available on

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  • Holy frijoles dude! I don’t care how weak you are…with training you will overcome that, but you look AMAZING! Seriously man. I had to look twice to make sure it was really you! 😛

  • I had a blast working out with you and being able to encourage each other is the best!! You’ll be pumping the heavy weights before you know it!

Ron Sparks Author, Poet

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Ron Sparks

Ron Sparks is a technology professional, science fiction and fantasy author and poet living in Zurich, Switzerland. His latest book "ONI: Satellite Earth Series Book 1" is available on


A man of many passions, I lay claim to a myriad of interests and hobbies. Among them, I am an amateur astronomer, an avid motorcycle rider, a whiskey aficionado, a (poor) surfer, a scuba diver, a martial artist, a student of philosophy, a proponent of critical thinking, a technologist, an entrepreneur, a cancer survivor, and I harbor a lifelong love of science fiction and fantasy. Feel free to strike up a conversation on the social networks below.

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