Tag Archives: oncology

Exercise for Cancer Patients

“You can lift that much weight?”

That’s the question Debra Carter got at Health Directions, Lexington Medical Center’s fitness and wellness gym, recently.

Her 30-pound presses on a strength training machine would be impressive to anyone. But what was even more impressive – and that no one knew – was that Carter was a cancer patient, still undergoing treatment, too.

The Cayce woman, age 52, was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2011. She underwent a lumpectomy and dozens of radiation treatments. During the end of radiation, she started going to Health Directions for Cancer Exercise Training, a program run with the help of the Lexington Medical Center Foundation.

Cancer Survivors 0144That’s where she met Thad Werts, who, with a Cancer Exercise Trainer (CET) certification from the American College of Sports Medicine, is an expert in helping people with cancer exercise correctly. A CET understands cancer patients’ diagnosis, surgeries, treatments, symptoms and side effects.

“With cancer, you can be active,” he said. “I look at what we can do to make everyone’s cancer experience better.”

In March, Werts put Carter on an 8-session, twice-per-week program to increase her strength and endurance, including a mix of cardio and weights.

With his training, he understands how cancer impacts exercise, and what it’s important for patients to do – and not to do. For example, chemotherapy can lower cardiovascular endurance. And, that it’s important to be careful with range of motion for breast cancer patients who’ve had surgery, especially with chest exercises.

“I can help them build back up their muscle so that they have more strength,” he said.

Carter liked it.

“It makes you feel so much better because you have more energy,” she said.

Since beginning the program two years ago, Werts has built up the program to train about ten patients each month, including breast, prostate and colon cancer patients.

The importance of such exercise is well-documented among cancer clinicians, who stress the importance of incorporating wellness activity into regimens for people who are moving into the survivor phase of life.

This exercise has emotional benefits, too.

“There’s a depression factor that I didn’t understand until I went through the training,” Werts said. “Women who have gone through hormone therapy have a tendency to gain more weight, so they feel more self-conscious.”

He says exercise can help them feel happier.

“I love the clinical aspect,” he said. “I knew I never wanted to be a doctor, but that I wanted to help as many people as possible.”

It’s made a difference for Carter. Werts has inspired her to exercise for the long-term.

“He has given me a second chance,” she said.

The Lexington Medical Center Foundation provides important programs and services that help people in our community, including cancer patients. Please consider giving to the Lexington Medical Center Foundation during the Central Carolina Community Foundation’s “Midlands Gives” challenge on May 5. Learn more at MidlandsGives.org.

LMC Participates in Important Cancer Research

Nan Faile, RN, Research Nurse Coordinator at Lexington Medical Center

Part of my work at Lexington Medical Center includes serving on the hospital’s cancer committee with a team of talented doctors, nurses and administrators who work diligently each day to care for people with cancer. In addition, they’re making an impact on cancer research. Lexington Medical Center is taking part in important trials and studies. I spoke with Nan Faile, RN, research nurse coordinator, about the projects.

Lexington Medical Center is participating in a clinical trial for breast cancer involving hormone therapy. The trial, sponsored by the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group (ACOSOG), is comparing three FDA-approved hormonal agents that each show promising results treating some breast cancer patients. The goal is to find which drug is best. Ultimately, researchers will compare the most successful drug with traditional chemotherapy.

Lexington Medical Center has referred 12 women so far for a National Cancer Institute-funded study called STORY, which stands for “Sisters Tell Others and Revive Yourself.” The project focuses on African-American women with breast cancer and compares the benefits of a telephone support group to standard psychosocial care. The study hopes to show that women in the telephone support group, who are encouraged to share their story with others, will have better outcomes.

Speaking of this research, Nan Faile said, “The person who wins in this equation is the patient.”

Lexington Medical Center is also taking part in two studies involving tissue banking. The first study is looking at the body’s ability to fight cancer cells. The work centers around factors associated with anti-tumor immunity in cancer patients. The second study looks at the role of a particular protein in the development of cancer cells related to breast and renal cancer.

Faile recently received a Thank You letter form the South Carolina Biorepository System, a statewide tissue banking network. Here is an excerpt: “We are pleased to tell you that LMC is an outstanding model for tissue banking. The high level of organization, efficiency and skill…, the flexibility in meeting the changing needs of the cancer research community and the true passion to further cancer research in South Carolina is remarkable and inspiring.”

These studies are one aspect of the important cancer care to which Lexington Medical Center is dedicated. Lexington Medical Center is the first hospital in South Carolina to perform Microwave Ablation, a treatment that can destroy tumors with a minimally-invasive, outpatient procedure. Lexington Medical Center’s cancer program is also accredited by the American College of Surgeons.