Oncology Rehabilitation Program

Cancer Fatigue, Cancer Fitness and Lymphedema

Cancer-Related Fatigue

Cancer-related fatigue is the most common side effect of cancer and its treatment. Many patients assume it is something they just have to live with, but there are ways to alleviate these symptoms. The Disney Family Cancer Center has created a Cancer Fatigue Program, specifically for cancer patients, designed to combat cancer-related fatigue and other cancer treatment side effects such as issues with balance, limitations with movement, flexibility and strength.

Cancer-Related Fatigue (CRF) affects about three quarters of the people diagnosed with cancer. Patients experience a sense of tiredness or exhaustion that is related to their cancer and/or its treatment. Medicines are available, but research is also pointing to aerobic exercise as a new tool in the arsenal.

"Often patients don't tell their doctors about fatigue, thinking it's not important. Yet, research has shown that treatment can be helpful, and one of the best ways to address CRF is with aerobic exercise," says Julianne Courtenay, physical therapist, Oncology Rehabilitation, Disney Family Cancer Center.

Individualized Treatment for Cancer-Related Fatigue

Treatment for cancer-related fatigue, which is usually covered by insurance, begins with a referral from your doctor. "We start with a comprehensive evaluation by Oncology Rehabilitation Therapist Cheryl Pranskevich to determine your areas of need," Courtenay explains.

In addition to fatigue, some people have issues with their balance or limitations in movement. With a thorough evaluation, our therapists develop customized treatment plans addressing all problems identified and specific concerns of the patient. The overall goal is to improve and enhance each person's quality of life during and after treatment.

The specially designed gym at the Disney Family Cancer Center provides a comfortable place to implement the cancer fatigue treatment. An entire wall of floor-to-ceiling glass looks out on the healing garden. New equipment, special lighting and hardwood floors are featured in the spacious room.

During cancer-related fatigue treatment, patients have one-on-one sessions in the gym with a therapist. Depending on each individual's needs, an exercise program includes focus on strength, balance, flexibility and aerobics. Blood pressure, heart rate and blood oxygen levels are monitored.

Cancer Fitness Program Provides Ongoing Support

The Cancer Fitness Program provides ongoing support for patients once they have completed their cancer-related fatigue treatment and want to continue with an exercise program. Patients can continue an exercise program in the supervised and medically oriented gym at the Disney Family Cancer Center.

Cheryl Pranskevich will again evaluate the patient's needs and create an individualized program. "Our on-site exercise technician assists during your workouts to help ensure that your program is meeting your physical needs," Courtenay says. "For just $8 a session, you have access to all the equipment, including treadmill, elliptical machine, recumbent bike, free weights, exercise bands, medicine balls and more."

The gym is open for Cancer Fitness from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, with a break for lunch. Although most participants are from the Cancer-Related Fatigue program, Cancer Fitness is available to all cancer patients with clearance from their physician.

For more information about Cancer-Related Fatigue treatment, or the Cancer Fitness Program, call Oncology Rehabilitation at the Disney Family Cancer Center at 818-748-4751.

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