TYLER, TX (KLTV) - At one time, it was discouraged, but doctors are now stressing the importance of exercise for cancer patients. New medical guidelines urge cancer survivors and patients going through treatment to stay active.
An East Texas program is targeting this group of people. It's restoring their quality of life, one step at a time.
Cancer, followed by chemotherapy, took over Johnece Hardemon's body. The 77-year-old says she's taking it back through exercise. "I feel like this is part of my treatment, that I need to do this to regain the strength and stamina that I did have," said Hardeman.
She's on the right path according to The American College of Sports Medicine. Their new guidelines urge cancer survivors to exercise the same amount as an average person, about two and a half hours a week.
"The side effects of chemotherapy, fatigue, nausea, drop in white count, compromise in immune system, all these things are favorably impacted by exercise," said Dr. Gary Kimmel, the founder of Fit Steps for Life, a free training program for cancer patients and survivors in East Texas and Dallas.
Dr. Kimmel says data shows physical activity may increase the survival rate in breast and colon cancer patients by 50 percent. "We are saying, 'hey, you know what, death is inevitable, it's a consequence of life.' What we need to do is focus on living to the fullest," said Dr. Kimmel.
Sue Purvis, a cancer survivor and Fit Steps for Life participant said, "I feel better than I did prior to getting the Lymphoma."
"I truly believe that we make a difference," said Dr. Kimmel. A difference for patients like Hardeman who are walking towards their goal. "Hopefully [I'll] remain cancer free. Those are beautiful words, cancer free," said Hardeman.
Fit Steps for Life is funded by doctors and private donations. They currently have 6,000 visits a month. If you are interested in participating in the program, talk to your doctor.