Oncology Rehabilitation

Moving Beyond Cancer

Oncology Rehabilitation is a nurse and trainer assisted exercise program that is part of the Center for Integrative Oncology and Survivorship at Prisma Health Cancer Institute.

moving on 2An expert panel convened by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) concluded that exercise training is safe and beneficial for cancer survivors after – and even during – treatment. There is a growing body of evidence to support physical exercise preventing recurrence of certain cancers as well as lowering the incidence of primary cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke. Physical activity is an activity each survivor can do to help their body’s defense against cancer by reducing inflammation, boosting immune function, and controlling hormone levels.

moving on1Our three month program, Moving On, is located at the Prisma Health Life Center and helps cancer survivors develop an exercise regimen to become more physically active.  By working with these professionals, survivors can adapt a personalized exercise program to “move on” past the challenges of their disease by decreasing fatigue, increasing strength and improving quality of life.

Listen to cancer survivor Gary Moore talk about his experience with cancer and the Moving On program in this podcast.

Program Components

  • Referrals for physical therapy
  • Strength training
  • Stretching
  • Exercise Conditioning
  • Lymphedema management
  • Nutrition education
  • Psychosocial counseling
  • Support groups
  • Massage therapy
  • Yoga

Entry Requirements

  • Patients must be within three years of completing cancer treatment to be eligible for this program
  • It is preferred that patients have completed all cancer treatment. Patients on current treatment will be evaluated on a case by case basis. Patients may be on maintenance therapies (Herceptin, Rituxan, Erbitux, etc). Patients must not be immunosuppressed (blood counts must be normal)
  • Stem cell transplant patients are eligible for referral at any time
  • Patients exercise in a gym atmosphere, and must be able to function independently (walk unassisted around a track, get themselves on and off exercise equipment unassisted)
  • Patients may use a cane if needed for ambulation. Patients requiring a wheelchair or walker should be referred to physical therapy prior to a referral to the Moving On program

Current and former participants of the Oncology Rehabilitation program get together in the evening two to three times a year for additional education and support. During one event the group enjoyed a cooking demonstration by Laura Pole, founder and president of Eating for a Lifetime. Laura ended her presentation with a “rap” on the importance of reading nutrition labels. Check it out!

Lymphedema is swelling, occurring when the lymphatic system has been disrupted due to surgery, radiation, infection, disease, or trauma and cannot move it’s fluid and proteins well. The Prisma Health Cancer Institute Lymphedema Management Program helps patients prevent and control lymphedema that is related to cancer. Treatment depends on the severity and extent of the condition. Physician referral is required for evaluation by our specially trained and certified physical therapists.

Possible Signs of Lymphedema

  • A full or heavy sensation in an arm or leg
  • An increase in size in an arm or a leg
  • Skin feels tight
  • Clothes or jewelry do not fit well on one side
  • Hardness/ firmness in an arm or leg
  • Weeping from the skin

Complete Decongestive Therapy

If lymphedema does develop, patients can be seen by the physical therapist who will use some of the following methods:

  • Manual lymphatic drainage to decrease swelling in an affected area
  • Use of short stretch bandaging to decrease limb size, pitting, and fibrosis
  • Education on appropriate skin care
  • Self manual lymphatic drainage
  • Appropriate exercises to promote lymphatic drainage
  • Recommendations for compression garments.

Free Pre-surgery Screening for Lymphedema

A pre-surgical appointment for breast cancer patients is free to measure the arm size prior to surgery. These measurements are done with a perometer. Perometers use an infrared light to painlessly measure the volume of an arm or leg. Measuring the arm with a perometer is non-invasive, painless and extremely accurate. These measurements can be compared to arm dimensions after your surgery to detect early lymphedema. Serial measurement can also be performed to monitor increase and decreases in fluid volume in the arm. Measurements taken by the perometer are much more accurate than the older method of using a measuring tape.

*The fee for physical therapy evaluation and management (except the pre-surgery measurement which is free) will be billed to your insurance provider. Depending on your policy, a co-payment may be required at the visit.

Monthly Lymphedema Education Classes

Community based classes for patients and their family on lymphedema prevention and education are held at 4:15 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month at Prisma Health Life Center. Classes are free. Cancer survivors are encouraged to attend these classes before, during, and after their treatment to learn more about lymphedema. For more information contact Jo Weathers, RN, BSN, OCN, CBCN, Breast Nurse Navigator at (864) 455-1392 or Kathie Beldon, PT, CLT at (864) 455-1346.

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Moving On: "I Loved It. I Was Empowered."

Laura Getty talks about how she learned to be an active partner in her treatment and recovery: “I wasn’t trying to survive. I was trying to build better health for the rest of my life, and I finally had a place where those tools were extended to me.”

Contact Us: (864) 455-7070