Cancer patients benefit from WE-Can program

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The WE-Can program is a 10-week Wellness and Exercise program for individuals living with Cancer and has four components:

1)      Individualized assessment (Complete medical history and physical fitness assessment)

2)      Wellness & Exercise Program (Cardio and strength training, warm up, cool down and stretching)

3)      Educational Group Presentations (Physical activity, home-based exercise programs, nutrition)

4)      Group Support (Share experiences with others)

The program takes place at the Canada Games Complex in Thunder Bay, Ontario, with guidance given on activities to be done at home.

A referral from an oncologist or primary care provider is required and an assessment done by a physiotherapist and kinesiolgist is provided by program staff to determine suitability for the program.

Janet Baillie, a breast cancer survivor shares her experience with the WE-Can Program.

“I really enjoyed the program and did it just when I was finishing up my radiation. It was tough while I was recovering from the burns and had to miss a few sessions, but overall by the end, I felt very strong and more energetic than I had in a long time. It was actually the start of my getting healthy program.

You see, after I was diagnosed I refused to concentrate on the DISEASE of Cancer, but concentrate instead on getting healthy. Something I hadn’t done in a long time – take care of myself. I always had an excuse not to exercise- driving kids, too tired, no time, whatever you could imagine, I used that excuse.

When I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, I was ashamed that, as a healthcare professional, I wasn’t aware of the changes in my body until one day I discovered the large lump in my breast!   I began to realize that I had an unhealthy lifestyle and I had to take care of myself. Exercise was missing in my life, even though I was a big advocate of driving my kids to be involved in every sport you can think of.

Beginning the WE-Can program was difficult! My husband laughed with me when I couldn’t believe I was pooped out exercising on a chair for 45 minutes. By the end of the program, I could participate and work my body to feel energized and happy to be able to do things I hadn’t done in a long time. My range of motion improved and I have never had any post surgical problems.   I believe this is because I participated in the WE-Can program.

I currently have lost a significant amount of weight and continue to challenge my body physically doing snowshoeing, downhill skiing and walking outdoors; not every day, but more than I have in a long time. I will soon start “a learn-to-run program” sponsored by The Running Room for breast cancer survivors. Thank you for making me feel alive and discovering that exercise is a big part of recovery!!!”

The WE-Can program relies on funding from a variety of sources to continue operation.  Generous donations, like the one from ‘Run with Me TBay’, give individuals living with cancer an opportunity to experience the benefits of exercise and healthy living.  To donate to the program, please contact the Health Sciences Foundation at (807) 345-HOPE or www.healthsciencesfoundation.ca

For more information about the WE-Can program, please contact Kelly-Jo Gillis, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre at (807) 684-7221 or gillisk@tbh.net.