Several programs for cancer patients and cancer survivors now add the benefit of exercise to getting together and drawing support from other patients. These vary from low-intensity classes to true outdoor adventures.
Below are some of our favorite activity-based programs in the Boston area.
1. We Can Row is a wellness and recovery program for breast cancer survivors. Founded in 2002, WeCanRow-Boston is the original chapter of the National WeCanRow program, which has affiliates across the country. The program was founded in 2002 by Olympic gold medalist, Holly Metcalf, who heads the National WeCanRow program. We Can Row is specifically designed to allow breast cancer survivors to reorient themselves with their bodies, giving women a sense of control and putting them in contact with other breast cancer survivors. Rowing helps survivors to re-build physical strength and mental focus, renew self-image and develop the bond of teamwork with women who have had similar cancer experiences.
The goals of the program are to help women:
- Recover from breast cancer
- Develop healthy and strong bodies
- Become active participants in their own recovery
- Assert control over their bodies
- Rediscover the joy of movement
- Contribute to a mutually empowering recovery team
From April through October, the program rows on Tuesday evenings on the Charles River out of the Community Rowing boathouse on Nonantum Road in Brighton, MA. During the winter, WCR-B rows in indoor tanks at Simmons College in Boston. Currently, the program practices on Tuesday evenings from 6:00 to 8:30 pm. In order to accommodate new rowers, we organize start dates throughout the year.
WeCanRow-Boston, Inc. is an official charity in the state of Massachusetts and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
2. Casting For Recovery
Casting for Recovery was founded in 1996 in Manchester, Vermont, the unique brainchild of a breast cancer reconstructive surgeon and a professional fly fisher. It began as a local grassroots group with a big heart and an original national vision, and quickly received endorsements from medical and psycho-social experts for its innovative healing program model while at the same time provoking intense interest by national media.
Casting for Recovery was founded on the principles that the natural world is a healing force and that cancer survivors deserve one weekend — free of charge and free of the stresses from medical treatment, home, or workplace — to experience something new and challenging while enjoying beautiful surroundings within an intimate, safe, and nurturing structure.
The program provides opportunity for women whose lives have been profoundly affected by the disease to gather in a natural setting and learn the sport of fly fishing. Just as importantly, the retreats offer an opportunity to meet new friends, network, exchange information, and have fun.
The weekend retreats incorporate counseling, educational services, and the trained facilitators that staff each retreat, including a psycho-social therapist, a health care professional (e.g. physical therapist, nurse), as well as fly-fishing instructors and river helpers.
Casting for Recovery offers free, 2½ day retreats for 14 participants, the maximum number recommended for small group dynamics as well as for educational and psycho-social benefits. Fly-fishing instruction is the means used to help women gain skills to cope with recovery from breast cancer.
While the fundraising burden of offering healing retreats at no cost to participants and asking volunteers to run state programs is enormous, Casting for Recovery has inspired the generous and loyal support of donors large and small, and continues to believe in its mission of providing women with powerful tools for healing at no expense to them.
To read more about this program, read Dave Caldwell’s article in the New York Times from November 2010.
3. Lebed exercises:
The Lebed method is a movement and exercise program that focuses on the lymphatic system, which is sometimes affected during cancer treatment. The class uses simple exercises to help prevent lymphedema and neuropathy, from blowing bubbles to gentle resistance stretches, and finishes up with a fun chorus-line routine.
The Lebed exercises at Newton-Wellesley Hospital are run by Linda Dudis, PT. They are held on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 7:30 pm at the Allen Riddle Living Room (part of the hospital campus). The classes are ongoing (you can join at any time) and are free of charge. They are open to patients with breast cancer as well as any cancer patients.
Further information about the program and schedule for these weekly classes can be obtained by calling Linda at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital Rehabilitation Department at 617-243-6172.
Newton-Wellesley Hospital’s Vernon Cancer Center offers low-cost yoga classes for cancer patients who are in active treatment. There are weekly classes in both the morning and afternoon.
The morning class is held at 11:00 am on Wednesday mornings. The afternoon class is held at 3:00 pm on Thursdays. The first class is free of charge; each additional session is $5. Classes are led by Ann Knocke, PT, MS.
Classes include practice in movement, relaxation, imagery, breathing, meditation, centering and integrating practice into daily life. Our experienced clinical instructor specializes in yoga for cancer patients. All fitness levels are welcome.
For more information call: 617-219-1230
5. Livestrong at the YMCA – Boston area programs
LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is a free-of charge twelve-week, small group program designed for adult cancer survivors looking to improve their overall health and well-being through programs which build mind body & spirit.
The program’s goal is to help participants build muscle mass and muscle strength, increase flexibility and endurance and improve functional ability. Additional goals include reducing the severity of therapy side effects, preventing unwanted weight changes and improving energy levels and self esteem. A final goal of the program is to assist participants in developing their own physical fitness program so they can continue to practice a healthy lifestyle, not only as part of their recovery, but as a way of life. In addition to the physical benefits, the program provides participants a supportive environment and a feeling of community with their fellow survivors, YMCA staff and members.
There are currently two locations of this program in Boston:
Charles River YMCA
380 Chestnut St, Needham, MA 02492
West Roxbury YMCA
15 Bellvue St, West Roxbury, MA 02132
Email contact for both locations: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in exploring any of these programs, contact the staff at the above links and enjoy your new activity!