Local cancer survivors with Lymphedema inspire each other

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Local cancer survivors with Lymphedema inspire each other

Postby patoco » Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:59 am

Local cancer survivors with Lymphedema inspire each other to good health

By Amanda Rittenhouse, Staff Writer
03/12/2008

After participating in a University of Pennsylvania study, a group of
local breast cancer survivors work out together twice a week at the
YMCA's Fort Washington Wellness Center with the hope of combating
lymphedema, a condition associated with breast cancer that causes
swelling and can restrict movement.

After the women's involvement in the University of Pennsylvania's
Physical Activity and Lymphedema trial study, the YMCA and the
University of Pennsylvania partnered to provide free gym memberships
and 13 weeks of personal training to them.

Gilda Smith, the personal trainer at the YMCA for the workout group,
said every Tuesday and Thursday morning for about an hour and a half
at the YMCA's Fort Washington Wellness Center the group of four to
five women ranging in age from 30 to 60-plus work out together.

Smith instructs the women to do simple workouts that focus on
alternating between upper body strength and lower body strength.

"The workouts are beneficial in helping the women prepare for everyday
things that require resistance while lifting. If you exercise, your
body is more prepared," Smith said.

The women do warm-up stretches, cardio, use free weights and machines.
Smith said the women start out exercising in baby steps and that she
is able to customize an exercise routine based on a person's ability.

Nancy Black, 51, is a breast cancer survivor and member of the workout
group. Black, also a dietician, is a Glenside resident. She said she
works with cancer patients on her job and said they don't just worry
about the cancer coming back, but what they can do to affirm their
health and make themselves feel good.

Black said it is easier to stick with the exercise program as a group
because it provides encouragement to get out and exercise. Black said
she also appreciates the opportunity for camaraderie that the group
allows the women to find.

"Its fun to have people to exercise with. We share experiences and
it's nice to have something positive come out of it," Black said.

Dr. Kathryn Schmitz, an exercise physiologist with the University of
Pennsylvania Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, said
the study would be over at the end of June. About 300 women in the
Philadelphia area with and without lymphedema participated in the
study. Schmitz said she is hoping to find funding in order to
implement the study nationally.

The study compared women working out with lymphedema to women not
working out with lymphedema. Though Schmitz cannot reveal the results
of the study before they are released, she said overall it seems that
women who have or are at risk of developing lymphedema can do strength training and not worry about the onset or worsening of the condition.

"Preliminary and anecdotal evidence is good. Women are getting
stronger and more fit and their lymphedema is not getting worse. If
anything it is getting better," Schmitz said.

Schmitz said current clinical guidelines for women who have or are at
risk for lymphedema say they should not do any exercise with the
affected arm.

Schmitz said the study worked with eight YMCAs in the Southeastern
Pennsylvania and New Jersey area and said she was pleased with the
workouts the women in the study received at the centers.

"The trainers have done a wonderful job. They really know how to help
the women and I really hope the intervention can be continued long
term. I hope the majority will continue long term and thus show that
strength training improves bone density, physical function, body
composition and fitness," Schmitz said.

Sherry Auker, 69, of Wyndmoor, a breast cancer survivor and
participant in the workout group, said the exercise strengthened her
upper body and helped her with balance. She said she plans to keep up
with the exercise program.

"It encouraged me to not lead a sedentary life. Now at least I go
there twice a week and work out. You get up in the morning and don't
really want to do it but by the time you get there you are psyched. I
also enjoy the socializing," she said.

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?news ... 7829&rfi=6

©Montgomery Newspapers 2008

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Additional Information:

Arm Lymphedema

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/do ... lymphedema

Leg Lymphedema

http://www.lymphedemapeople.com/wiki/do ... lymphedema

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Pat O'Connor
Lymphedema People
http://www.lymphedemapeople.com
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