Special to Iredell Free News
Adjusting to the physical demands of life with cancer or managing your wellbeing as a cancer survivor is no easy feat. You need support and guidance to help you achieve optimal health during your cancer journey.
Understanding this need, Iredell Health System has recently launched an outpatient cancer rehabilitation program. The main goal of this program is to increase quality of life while increasing physical function for individuals diagnosed with cancer.
The program is made possible in part thanks to an EnergyUnited Foundation, which awarded a $10,000 grant to the Iredell Health Foundation to provide necessary funding for the new program.
“For nearly 40 years, Iredell Health System has led the community in innovative and effective rehabilitation programming. Beginning in 1985 with cardiac rehab, pulmonary rehab in 2015, and supervised exercise therapy for peripheral artery disease in 2019, Iredell Health System has now expanded its rehab programming to meet the complex needs of our oncology patients at all stages of diagnosis,” said Lisa Warren, director of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation at Iredell Health System, who is overseeing the program.
Patients at any part of their cancer journey — whether they are newly diagnosed, currently undergoing treatment, or have finished their treatment — may seek care in the program. Services in the cancer rehab program include exercise training and support for medical, nutritional, and emotional needs.
“Supported by the American College of Cardiology, exercise has been proven as a nonpharmacological treatment for cancer and is positively associated with improved quality of life and reduction of some cancer-related symptoms such as fatigue, pain, constipation, dyspnea, weight, and sleep problems,” said Warren.
Among the many benefits, cancer rehabilitation may:
• Improve quality of life;
• Address cancer-related problems that affect mobility;
• Ease the side effects of chemotherapy or radiation treatment; and
• Support mental and physical wellbeing
Components of Iredell Health System’s cancer rehab program may include:
♦ Exercise: This part of cancer rehab takes place in Iredell’s cardiopulmonary rehab gym. The equipment located in this area provides both seated and standing exercise options for people of all abilities, including those who use mobility devices like canes, walkers, and rollators.
While patients exercise, Ire♦ dell Health System’s highly-qualified team will monitor their vital signs to help ensure that the exercise is safe for each individual patient. This telemetry monitoring is something not all cancer rehab programs offer.
♦ Nutrition: The cancer rehab team will also teach patients about healthy foods to eat during their cancer journey and help them manage any challenges that may prevent them from eating well.
Psychosocial care: This may include counseling to help with the stress and anxiety of a cancer diagnosis.
In addition, this program will also give patients a chance to interact with other individuals who are going through a similar journey.
“We have learned from our other programs that the support the program offers sometimes outweighs the benefit of exercise. Being in an environment with others who have similar diagnoses provides emotional support like no other. The camaraderie is amazing,” said Warren.
To provide this beneficial program, Iredell Health System has assembled a highly trained team of dedicated experts, including registered nurses, certified respiratory therapists, clinical exercise physiologists, licensed dietitians, and licensed clinical counselors.
Upon admission to the program, each patient will complete a medical and exercise assessment. Data from the assessment will be used to develop their individualized treatment plan and determine the amount of time the patient will participate.
Classes will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. The cost is $25 per session. Iredell Health System can offer financial assistance as needed to participate.
Patients can begin enrolling in the program now, and classes begin January 10. To enroll, patients will need a referral from their provider.
“Our goal for the cancer rehab program is no different than that for the other programs we offer under the umbrella of Cardiopulmonary Rehab Services. That is to provide the patient an experience that allows them to improve their quality of life, give them an opportunity to exercise in a medically supervised environment, and support them on their journey through one of the more challenging times in their lives,” said Warren.
If you would like to learn more about the cancer rehabilitation program, call 704-878- 4558.
About Iredell Health System
Iredell Health System includes Iredell Memorial Hospital; Iredell Mooresville; Iredell Home Health; Iredell Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center; Community and Corporate Wellness; Occupational Medicine; the Iredell Physician Network and more. Iredell Memorial Hospital is the largest and only nonprofit hospital in Iredell County. The comprehensive healthcare facility has 247 beds; more than 1,800 employees; and has 260 physicians representing various specialties. Centers of excellence include Women’s and Children’s; Cardiovascular; Cancer; Surgical Services and Wellness & Prevention. The Health System’s newest campus, Iredell Mooresville, is home to the area’s only 24-hour urgent care facility, as well as an ambulatory surgery center, imaging center, rehabilitation services, and physician practices. The mission of Iredell Health System is to inspire wellbeing. For a comprehensive list of services and programs, visit www.iredellhealth.org.