Thursday, March 17, 2011

Breast Cancer Treatment and Excercise

If you're going through breast cancer treatment, exercise may be one of the last things on your mind, but studies show that staying active during treatment can help ward off some common side effects of treatment, such as fatigue. Working out regularly also has profound benefits in quality-of-life post-treatment. A collaboration between the American Cancer Society in New England and Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, is looking at just how much of a difference exercise can make.

Called Moving Forward Together 2, the study pairs American Cancer Society Reach To Recovery volunteers with current breast cancer patients in a 12-week telephone-based counseling program that promotes exercise. Reach To Recovery volunteers are breast cancer survivors who are specially-trained to provide emotional support and guidance to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. This program adds exercise motivation to the equation.

The study has two arms: one group will be offered educational information about the benefits of exercise in addition to traditional Reach To Recovery services; the other will engage in moderate-intensity physical activity as well. Survivors reach out to patients by phone.

Reach To Recovery volunteer, Sally Scanlon, is among the women taking part. Scanlon, a 10-year stage II breast cancer survivor, says she saw a "huge benefit" from upping her physical activity after her own diagnosis. She's seen other women find similar benefits through exercise.

"The woman I was counseling was going through some difficult family situations on top of going through treatment. While she was waiting for her mother at the nursing home, she would get on the treadmill. You could just see what a stress release exercising had become for her," Scanlon says.

Participating in the program has also helped Scanlon keep her own exercise program on track.

"I thought, 'She's exercising, and she's going through chemo!'", Scanlon says.