Tag Archives: radiation

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.

Local woman’s cancer battle uncovers family link


A Midlands woman’s fight against breast cancer led to a discovery that may save the lives of her sisters and daughters.

Click for Video: wistv.com – Columbia, South Carolina

Kelly, Kathryn and Ashley

Kelly, Kathryn and Ashley


Kathryn Robinson’s cancer battle started more than two years ago.  “I was preparing to go to work, and while I was in the shower I just accidentally felt a lump in my breast,” said Robinson.

It had been less than two months since Robinson’s yearly mammogram, but she knew something wasn’t right. “I called the doctor and went in that afternoon,” said Robinson. “He sent me in for an ultrasound that next Monday.”

Just a few days after the ultrasound Robinson was diagnosed with breast cancer and life immediately changed for her and her family.

“When my mom was diagnosed and she talked about getting genetic testing done, that’s the first time I had ever heard of the gene,” said Robinson’s 24 year-old daughter, Ashley Lyons.

Robinson’s family quickly learned about the BRCA gene malformation. It’s hereditary and when present greatly increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. In the midst of chemo, Kathryn tested positive for the gene.

“I had eight rounds of chemotherapy, and I was scheduled to do radiation after that, but because I was positive with the BRCA2 gene, they did a bilateral mastectomy,” said Robinson.

Doctors at Lexington Medical Center recommended the mastectomy and a hysterectomy in hopes of eliminating Robinson’s future cancer risks. They also advised her family to get tested for the gene.

“I had one sister that wasn’t interested in getting tested and a younger sister that I can usually persuade to do just about anything… she went and got tested,” said Robinson.

As it turned out, Robinson’s sister Kelly Moore also tested positive for the gene malformation. “I feel like I’m the lucky one,” said Moore. “Kathryn helped to educate me, and I had all of her valuable information for what she had gone through.

Moore chose to have her ovaries removed as a preventive measure, and is now getting more frequent breast exams. For Robinson’s daughter Ashley, the decision was more difficult.

“At first, I did not want to know,” said Ashley. “I did not want to be tested.” But Ashley says her older sister talked her into being tested for the gene. While her older sister does not have the BRCA malformation, Ashley does.

“At first I was like how do you test positive and do nothing about it…so that was kind of hard in the beginning,” said Ashley.

But medical oncologist Dr. Steve Madden at Lexington Medical center says at Ashley’s young age it’s okay not to undergo preventive surgery as long as she’s pro-active. “As long as you’re aware, you’re going to be on top of anything and catch it much earlier if it develops at all,” added Dr. Madden.

Kathryn has been a survivor now for two years. Her family calls her a lifesaver. “She was very positive, and she inspired all of us to take a fighting approach to it,” said Moore.

Dr. Madden says doctors usually advise anyone diagnosed with breast cancer who is under the age of 50 to be tested for the gene. They also advise immediate family members of breast cancer patients to be tested, as well.

Click for the full video: WIS TV VIDEO