“Regular daily exercise is really not optional. Exercise has known benefits for all chronic diseases, including cancer. A cancer diagnosis can be a turning point where individuals begin to understand the value of a healthy lifestyle and incorporate it into their lives. It’s important to help cancer survivors on this journey.“
—Kim Dittus, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, University of Vermont College of Medicine Hematology/Oncology
“As someone that has been treated for cancer and as someone that works with many people who are being treated for cancer, I think it is really important for people to try to remain active. We all need to get healthy exercise as much as we can. Depending on the type of cancer someone is being treated for and their individual needs, their road to recovery may be longer for some survivors than others. Oncology rehabilitative services are an important part of getting someone back to wellness and moving forward with their lives.”
—Patricia O ‘Brien,
M.D., Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Vermont College of Medicine
Lymphedema Specialist and Internal Medicine Physician, Hematology/Oncology
“As a provider of cancer care in Vermont, I want to thank Dragonheart for their effort with the Survivorship NOW initiative. Exercise and general wellness not only improves cancer outcomes, but it makes cancer patients feel better about themselves. That sense of well being is priceless when living with cancer’s uncertainties. We are learning that Cancer Rehab is as important as Cardiac Rehab. Dragonheart has known this for many years!“
—Mary Stanley, M.D., Breast Surgeon, Fletcher Allen Health Care
“From the earliest days of a few paddlers in a borrowed boat to its present-day role as an outstanding philanthropic organization Dragonheart Vermont has served as an example for all that camaraderie, exercise and a focus on wellness lead to better cancer survivorship. As the number of cancer survivors grows we need to focus not just on the screening, diagnosis and treatment of disease, but on ways to minimize the effects of the disease and its treatment on the person as a whole. Dragonheart Vermont has been successful in all of its endeavors and I look forward to helping them with their Survivorship NOW initiative.“—H. James Wallace, M.D., Medical Director, FAHC Radiation Oncology, University of Vermont Associate Professor of Radiology
“The cancer experience never leaves one and is never forgotten. The goal is to survive it with the best quality of life. Returning to a “normal” life is one of the most challenging journeys. It takes a community of friends and professionals to achieve it. “
—Ruth Heimann, M.D., Ph.D.
Radiation Oncologist, UVM Professor of Radiation Oncology
“Researchers also report a decrease in cancer related fatigue, improved physical functioning, decreased neuromuscular symptoms from cancer treatments and improved muscle strength. Patients who exercise during cancer treatment experience less fatigue, more vigor, and less emotional distress than those who are less active. Importantly, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has concluded that exercise training is safe during and after cancer treatments and can improve physical functioning, quality of life, and cancer-related fatigue.”
—Paulette Thabault, ANP-BC, CPT,
“The Survivorship NOW program will help fill a void in the rehabilitation of individuals going through active cancer treatment, as well as for individuals who have completed their medical and surgical course of care, but may still be struggling with the side effects of that care. Some of the side effects of cancer treatment include fatigue, achy joints, skin and connective tissue changes from radiation therapy, and generalized deconditioning, all of which may make return to usual home and work related activities difficult. Some individuals may be referred to Physical Therapy, but many do not realize there are ways to help improve or manage these problems.
By offering a support system of trained professionals, the SOS program will help these individuals resume a path towards wellness. Aerobic and resistance exercise training can help mitigate the deconditioning effects of cancer treatment, as well as offer another method to help deal with symptoms of fatigue and anxiety. As a physical therapist, I am excited to be involved in the SOS program, to try and fill this void. The SOS program will offer a continuum of care for patients undergoing treatment related to cancer.”
—Justine Dee, PT, MS, OCS, LANA-certified Lymphedema Therapist
“For a long time, Physical Therapy was focused on treating the consequences of cancer versus preventing functional loss. We now know that promoting heath, wellness, and fitness in cancer survivors soon after their treatment ends is essential in preventing secondary problems and functional loss. Guided exercise is essential now more than ever! With the Survivorship NOW initiative, we are developing a community of healthcare and fitness professionals and survivors that will together establish an environment that promotes healthy living and full life participation. The exercise component of the program will energize it’s participants to move forward with life after cancer.”
—Natalie Bradford, PT
Physical Therapist, Fletcher Allen Health Care
“Exercise has been reported as the #1 anti-oxidant against cancer. The benefits of exercise are vast as it improves cardiovascular health, bone strength, muscular function, neuro (brain) function, coordination, elevates mood, improves gastro-intestinal motility, and stimulates immunity. Oh, and we can’t forget that it is FUN! Social gatherings are often with reference to food, “Let’s meet for lunch.” However, it is becoming increasingly more popular to meet for a run, a game of tennis, a yoga class, or perhaps an evening paddling on Lake Champlain in a Dragonboat. Exercise in this fashion is therapeutic on multiple levels and social.
Once the body has been overwhelmed with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments, it isn’t so easy to find inner strength and accurate guidance to return to a healthy lifestyle. Cancer survivors want a return to “normality” in their lives. Although it can be overwhelming to take of the house, the family, and return to work, this group has the potential to return stronger than prior to their cancer treatment.”
—Kristi C. Johnson, P.T
LANA-Certified Lymphedema Therapist
“The Survivorship NOW initiative will fill a need within the community at large. Cancer rehabilitation is the next frontier in survivorship care. Studies have shown that physical therapy improves energy balance through proper diet and exercise to promote optimal healing.
It is a privilege to be able to work with survivors during and long after treatment is completed. I feel honored to be part of such an instrumental program that allows survivors to continue after therapeutic exercise, manual therapy, functional training, cognitive behavioral therapies, and complementary treatments are finished.”
—-Deborah Harris, PT, RD, LANA-Certified Lymphedema Therapist