Vail Valley’s cancer center gets patients ‘fit for survival’ |

Vail Valley’s cancer center gets patients ‘fit for survival’

Melaine Hendershott
Vail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyVail Valley: Exercise physiologist Dustin Buttars, left, helps cancer survivor Nancy Goetze with a workout Monday during a Fit for Survival class at the Edwards Pavilion.

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –Cancer survivorship is defined as anyone who has had a cancer diagnosis from the day of diagnosis until the end of life. However, cancer survivorship is a profound journey through diagnosis, treatment, coping with side effects, family dynamics, medical expenses and fear of recurrence. The Shaw Cancer Center is trying to address some of these issues with our Fit for Survival Program. This is a multidisciplinary program promoting wellness, emotional well-being and improved quality of life for our cancer survivors.

The Fit for Survival program involves oncology specialist practitioners including a dietitian, exercise physiologist, physical therapist and counselor. These practitioners address improving side effects of treatment, promoting health and wellness, and providing emotional support during this difficult time. Additionally, there is proven evidence showing the benefits of diet, exercise and emotional support to reduce treatment related fatigue, enhanced quality of life and improved treatment outcomes.

Fatigue is the No. 1 complaint of cancer survivors. Up to 96 percent of all cancer survivors experience some kind of fatigue, according to In research studies, aerobic exercise has been shown to reduce the symptoms of fatigue. People with cancer who regularly exercise may have more physical energy, improved appetite, improved ability to function, improved quality of life, improved sense of well-being and improved ability to meet the challenges of cancer and cancer treatment. Additionally, cancer survivors can increase strength and cardiovascular fitness, and decrease body fat and Body Mass Index, thus reducing their cancer recurrence risk even further. Findings from a study of breast cancer survivors suggest that patients may be able to lessen fatigue and pain and function better in daily activities if they take part in moderate to vigorous recreational sports after cancer treatment, according to Proper nutrition also plays an important part in the treatment of fatigue and meeting with a dietitian can also help patients improve symptoms. Additionally, emotional support is required to assess for stress, anxiety and depression, which can also contribute to increased symptoms.

The Fit for Survival program also helps improve outcomes such as reduced cancer recurrence and other comorbidities such as heart disease and diabetes. For example, breast cancer patients who eat a low fat diet can reduce their risk of recurrence by up to 42 percent depending on their diagnosis, according to a study published in a 2006 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Additionally, if breast cancer survivors exercise 30 to 60 minutes per day, five days per week, risk of recurrence is reduced by an average of 50 percent, according to a study published in a 2005 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. More intense and longer duration exercise may enhance those benefits even more. There is also evidence for improved outcomes with proper diet and exercise with prostate cancer, colon cancer and several other cancer diagnoses.

The Fit for Survival program is open to all cancer survivors living in the local community who would like to participate. There is a minimal fee and scholarships are available for those who qualify. For more information, please visit our Web site at

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