SOUTH BEND—Most cancer patients understand while radiation and chemotherapy are beneficial, the treatments cause weakness and fatigue. A service provided to oncology patients at Memorial Hospital helps them restore strength and energy.
A cancer fitness specialist at Memorial Hospital says research shows exercise has great benefits for people undergoing treatment for cancer. Late last year, Memorial Hospital opened the Restorative Fitness Center for Oncology Patients.
“I lost all my strength, and I’m trying to build my strength back up,” said Daniel Grocki, a prostate cancer patient.
“The fatigue was awful. I mean I just couldn't do anything. I couldn’t hardly get out of bed in the morning. After two sessions of this, boy did it help! It made a big difference,” added Debbie Bayless, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last September.
Sarah Benjamin is the personal trainer for the cancer patients. She develops a personal workout program for each person. They work out for 45 minutes, twice a week.
“It definitely offsets some of the side effects, like fatigue,” said Benjamin. “That’s one of the biggest effects of chemo and radiation. And this gives you a little boost to get through your day.”
“She's just super. She takes an individual interest in wherever your aches are,” said Robert Andrews, who is in a two-year cancer treatment program. He said exercising helps him take his mind off the treatment and gives him something to look forward to.
Benjamin said the workouts also increase patients’ strength, improve their cardiovascular fitness, and help them regain balance.
In addition to the physical improvements, there are emotional benefits for cancer patients as they work out at the fitness center. Benjamin says they gain a sense of camaraderie.
“I think it's just because they're all going through the same thing,” Benjamin said. “They're all having similar stories, and it kind of makes them feel like it's not just you going through that.
“It's really nice that we all get together and can talk about it,” said Grocki.
“This is great, because we're self-conscious because of what we've been through, so we can relate to the other people, and it's nice to hear stories that they're going through what you went through,” said Bayless.