Staying fit to keep fighting

How one member’s fitness is helping battle cancer

Olav Ruud has beaten the odds, and he says the WAC is in large part to thank. The 72-year-old WAC member was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2018. According to the American Cancer Society, the survival rate for pancreatic cancer one year after diagnosis is only 20 percent. Enter Olav, who credits a combination of fitness and an experimental treatment for saving his life.

“Without exception, every doctor I spoke to said the same thing,” Olav says. “Exercise, exercise, exercise. And they still keep saying that!”

Despite chemotherapy and an operation to remove part of his pancreas in 2019, Olav’s tumors persisted. That’s when he read an article about an experimental natural killer cell therapy taking place at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, California.

“This is about survival,” Olav says. “If this is what I have to do, for however long it takes, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Olav’s high level of fitness helped him earn placement in the program, which has more applicants than it can accept. He began the treatment process this past April and has since been declared cancer-free, though treatment is ongoing.

He often stays at the Inn at the WAC. During workouts, he places an emphasis on listening to his body to avoid pushing himself too hard. His workouts usually include a focus on flexibility and aerobic conditioning.

“Anybody who belongs to the WAC is blessed to have this facility to use,” Olav says.

As published in the November/December 2021 issue of WAC Magazine

—Posted November 17, 2021

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