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It’s important for cancer patients to stay physically active both while undergoing and post treatment. Survivor Fit, a cancer-specific exercise program offered by Penrose Cancer Center, helps patients do just that.
“Survivor Fit is open to anyone over 18 who has ever been told they have cancer,” said Chauncey Carroll, Survivor Fit instructor. “Even if it is ten years down the road from their treatment.”
Regular exercise helps patients increase muscle strength, joint flexibility and general conditioning, which are often diminished following surgery and certain therapies. Patients must also control their weight as being overweight increases the risk of a cancer recurrence, particularly for breast cancer patients.
Carroll said some patients start exercising with Survivor Fit as soon as they have been diagnosed – others start during or once they have completed treatment.
“Some of our patients were active before and some were not,” Carroll said. “All of them are still getting an idea of what life looks like now, during and after cancer.”
For a nominal fee, patients get a three-month membership and personal training session with a CancerFit-Certified fitness specialist. “We do a pre- and post-fitness assessment for everyone,” Carroll said. “We look at body composition, strength, cardiovascular function and flexibility.”
Because cancer patients experience an array of side effects and everyone starts at a different fitness level, Survivor Fit tailors exercise plans for members to be sure they receive the most effective support possible.
“Balance and flexibility become big challenges with cancer treatment, so we also provide a free Flexibility and Balance class just for cancer survivors,” Carroll said. This ensures patients get the help they need in a safe and caring environment, with a trainer who understands their unique struggles alongside people facing the same physical challenges.
Both programs are offered through Penrose Cancer Center, part of the Centura Health Cancer Network, delivering advanced, integrated cancer care across Colorado and western Kansas.
“The Survivor Fit program has given me a lot more energy,” said Kathy Wilson, a one-year breast cancer survivor. “It has really motivated me to get back into exercising and Chauncey is so patient and sensitive to what we’re going through.”
Survivor Fit member Lisa has been diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer and found her range of motion to be greatly reduced after her bilateral mastectomy.
“It’s really been a Godsend,” she said of the Survivor Fit program. “Chauncey really understands how to work around whatever issues you’re having to help in the most effective way.”