Program offers breast cancer patients exercise, nutrition

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By Noi Mahoney, Managing Editor

For breast cancer patients and survivors, the ThriveWell Cancer Foundation and Centro Fitness have begun offering free fitness and nutrition education classes.

Part of the DIVA program (Deriving Inspiration and Vitality through Activity), the classes area located at Centro Fitness at CentroMed Southside, 3750 Commercial Ave.

“The CentroMed Southside Clinic is located in a greatly underserved area of town for fitness options for breast cancer patients and survivors,” said Erin Ercoline, executive director of Thrivewell Cancer Foundation.

“Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the U.S. and the second leading cause of cancer death in women.”

Linda Aleman, who attends the DIVA classes at Centro Fitness, said it was great having the classes on the Southside and not having to drive to the South Texas Medical Center on the city’s Northside.

“We have fun,” Aleman said. “We benefit by having our own personalized teachers who understand our concern. I look forward to coming to class, because I know I am doing something good for myself.”

Jason Martin, a yoga instructor who has been teaching DIVA classes at Centro Fitness, said he’s received positive feedback from the community.

“The response has been great,” he said. “DIVA is the perfect program for cancer survivors. We’ve been reaching out to the community and hope to see more people out here.”

For women who have been diagnosed with cancer, there are a number of studies that confirm the link between exercise and an improved survival rate.

Historically, doctors advised cancer patients to rest and to avoid activity. But there is a growing body of research that has challenged the recommendation.

In a 2010 interview with the San Antonio Express-News, Dr. Amy Lang, an oncologist and co-founder of the DIVA program, said there are research-proven benefits of exercise for breast cancer patients: it decreases fatigue, lifts mood, reduces lymphedema (swelling in the arms after the removal of lymph nodes), improves sleep and decreases chemo-induced nausea and fatigue.

More importantly, research suggests it can reduce risk of cancer recurrence in women who have undergone appropriate treatment, Lang said.

ThriveWell’s DIVA fitness program at Centro Fitness includes aerobics, yoga and tai chi, as well as nutrition counseling.

At Centro Fitness, classes will be held every day of the week, except Tuesday and Sunday. There will be seven classes and one monthly nutrition class.

All DIVA classes are provided free of charge to breast cancer patients and survivors, Ercoline said.

Participation in the DIVA program is not determined by financial resources or status of a medical diagnosis. Nor are women required to have any affiliation with a medical practice or insurance carrier.

Aleman said she is thankful to have the classes and the support from fellow cancer survivors.

“The DIVA’S are all different, but have one common goal, to beat cancer and have a fulfilling life,” Aleman said.

The ThriveWell Cancer Foundation can be reached at 593-5949. Centro Fitness can be reached at 334-3800.

Categories News | Tags: | Posted on December 6, 2011

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