Topeka program for breast cancer survivors promotes healthy lifestyle

Local News

TOPEKA (KSNT) — A research project to determine if a healthy weight and lifestyle can improve the quality of life for breast cancer survivors is underway at a Topeka Kansas health center.

The research project actually began in January, but this is the first the researchers have been talking about it.

Those heading the program say, this project has had an undeniable impact on breast cancer survivors.

For breast cancer survivors, some healthy behaviors may lower the risk of breast cancer recurrence and improve their long-term survival.

“I am a cancer survivor myself so I have a lot of interest in it because I’ve been down that road, and would love to help these ladies,” says Laura Stein, club manager of Genesis Health Club in Topeka.

Stein’s part of a partnership between Stormont-Vail HealthCare, New Directions Behavioral Health, Hy-Vee grocery store and Genesis Health Club .

“Women who are obese have a higher chance of cancer recurrence,” says Dr. Jakica Tancabelic, pediatric hematologist-oncologist at Stormont-Vail HealthCare. “To come up with a method to maybe change their attitude towards exercise and food.”

Funding for the year-long study comes from the Midwest Cancer Alliance. It’s a program that’s seen up to 30 participants and its produced life changing results. The program can accommodate up to 80 participants.

“A lot of [patients] are telling us, “why didn’t you start this right off the bat, you know it would have made such a big difference”,” Tancabelic says.

With a health coach to lend an ear and advice.

“These folks for the first time feel like they have the opportunity to talk to someone not just about the cancer treatment but about their life,” Jeff Davis with New Directions Behavioral Health says.

One key is to incorporate a healthy diet with a workout routine.

“Starting an exercise program and staying consistent you significantly reduce your risk by 50 percent,” Stein says.

Linking participants with trainers is another key element.

“Trying to build up a little bit of that muscle mass they might have lost during their treatment. Basic workouts that work on core and flexibility,” says Cory Walker, personal trainer coordinator with Genesis Health Club.

New Direction Behavioral Health hopes that with the success the program has already shown it could soon go into rural areas of the state.

Those behinds the research say they hope to continue the program beyond its one-year trial period.

If you want to learn more about how to qualify for the program call Stormont-Vail Cancer Center at (785) 354-5300.

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