It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I saw this as a chance to write something poignant connecting a healthy lifestyle with a reduced risk of the disease, and a better prognosis, God forbid, should you be stricken. Cancer is an important topic. It was my opportunity to discuss the benefits of healthy living. I was fired up.

I began gathering data to support the soap box I wanted to climb atop. And lemme tell ya, the facts were easy to come by. Just a few minutes on the National Institute of Health's PubMed, and a quick visit to the science-news sites, provided me with MORE than enough studies to justify my stance. At every turn, lifestyle, exercise, and BMI were implicated in cancer risk-reduction and survival (breast cancer included). I had plenty to write about.

It was time to start typing. I settled in at the keyboard anxious to share my research results. I wrote a word or two, and then backspaced over them. I pondered a moment then wrote another few words, and backspaced over them, too. This cycle went on about 20 times. My verbal creativity was stagnant. So, I tried coming at the topic from other angles, and it still stunk. I hated all of it. I hit return a few times, hoping a fresh hunk of white space would inspire me - clear my head. But I couldn't cough up a single, decent sentence. My preachy-passion had fizzled. I could have forced the topic onto paper, but it would have been stale and dry. I felt like I was trying to write a big, giant "duh."

THAT was the problem - I was writing the obvious. Everyone is aware diet and exercise help anything and everything. Don't believe me? Try imagining your doctor saying "no, no, you need to be obese to fight this off, and we prefer you wheeze when you go up the stairs." Duh, huh? Thanks to public service announcements, magazine covers, TV reality shows, endless TV news stories, and Michelle Obama, we know we need to watch what we eat, move our bodies, and maintain a healthy weight. Restating it to an audience fighting for their lives felt unbelievably stupid.

So, I'm speechless. I can offer no pearls of wisdom. No factoids yet unknown. All I have is my appreciation - for you, the survivors, the families, the researchers, the fund raisers. I sit in silence - no perspective-changing advice to be given. Just my gratitude - and those words came easily.

• NSCA certified personal trainer Shannon Sorrels has a bachelor's degree in chemistry and an MBA. Her Ahwatukee-based company, Physix LLC, works with Valley individuals and groups to improve their overall fitness. Reach her at (480) 528-5660 or visit

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