I've had a tendency to feel a bit self-righteous toward the other members of the two exercise classes offered at William Wells Brown Community Center.
When I stop moving my feet during low-impact aerobics or quit in the middle of a Zumba routine, I have been quick to tell those nearby I have two partial lungs, the result of two bouts with lung cancer.
I think I rather relished the sympathy I saw in their eyes and the awe they expressed that I was exercising at all.
But last week, I learned I wasn't as special as I thought. Several people take part in the classes despite medical issues and the brief discomfort exercise might cause.
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When I turned to Michelle Wales last week to seek sympathy, she looked at me like I was a wimp. Wales has lupus, but because she exercises regularly, lupus does not have her. And, unlike me, she didn't offer excuses for not working out as hard as she could.
According to the Web site of Lupus Foundation of America Inc., 1.5 million Americans have a form of lupus, which strikes mostly women ages 15 to 44. Women of color are two to three times more likely to develop the disease, which can be hereditary and has no known cure.
With lupus, antibodies that the body produces to protect itself from viruses, bacteria and germs can't tell the difference between the germs and healthy tissue. They attack both, causing inflammation, pain and damage. A flare-up usually means joint pain and swelling in Wales' neck, legs, arms and feet. When that happens, she takes medication.
Before a recent automobile accident, Wales hadn't had a painful flare-up since 2009. She credits that to exercise.
"It keeps your joints moving," she said. "You have to keep the circulation up."
Wales, 45, a divorced mother of three grown sons, said her father, who also had lupus, relied on medications such as prednisone throughout his battle with the chronic autoimmune disease.
"It got so he couldn't function without it," Wales said.
But she didn't want that. She said she doesn't like taking any medications.
"That is not me," Wales said. "I'd rather exercise."
Wales, who has one of those petite figures I would kill for, said exercise helps keep her weight in check, too.
She made me feel pretty bad.
And so did Stacey Edmonds, 46, the second woman from whom I sought a sympathetic ear.
Edmonds has fibromyalgia, which is long-term pain in the joints, muscles, soft tissue and tendons.
"I was never diagnosed until 2010, but I've had symptoms since 2003," she said. "I just thought I was falling apart. I thought it was going along with the aging process."
She said her rheumatologist told her to exercise no matter how bad she felt physically or emotionally.
Women are more likely than men to develop fibromyalgia, but exercise, relaxation and reducing stress help mitigate the disorder, which has no cure.
Edmonds said she and her girlfriend have been attending the exercise classes for nearly three years.
"It helps with the stiffness," she said. "I think it helps with the pain as well."
I found no pity with her.
I don't have any more pain than any other 60-year-old sedentary person who eats nutritional foods less often than she should.
Other than my scars itching every now and then or having to breathe more laboriously during humid weather, while walking uphill, or running a couple of laps around a gym, I really have been blessed with a great recovery.
Truth be told, exercise has increased my lung capacity to just about where it was before the lobectomies in 2005 and 2006.
If you have used being tired as an excuse not to exercise, that excuse won't fly with Wales and Edmonds.
They find themselves challenged each Tuesday and Thursday in low-impact aerobics, Zumba and other classes by instructor Mark A. Johnson.
"I just love Mark," Edmonds said. "He and Jill (Chenault-Wilson, the center's director) care about us and give us so much encouragement."
We're all part of the Community Weight Loss Challenge, and while enrollment in that is closed, classes are open.
None of us will tell you the exercise is easy, but we will tell you we come back twice a week to do it again.
Come join us or find your own place. Beware, though. I'm looking for another way to gain sympathy.