Cancer patients, doctors find healing, health in exercise 

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Cancer patients, doctors find healing, health in exercise 

UNC Lineberger researchers are working to expand Get Real and Heel, a free exercise program for cancer survivors at the N.C. Cancer Hospital.

When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Erin Juliano was an active, young mom who loved to run outdoors and do exercise classes at the gym.

While she tried to remain active during chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, she wasn’t in the same shape afterward. Surgery made it difficult for her to raise her right arm, which required physical therapy.

“I certainly wasn’t anywhere near where I was before my diagnosis,” Juliano said, in terms of her physical activity level.

On her last day of radiation, her doctor handed her paperwork for Get Real and Heel, a free exercise program for cancer survivors at the N.C. Cancer Hospital. Launched in 2006 by UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, the program offers a space for patients to exercise alongside expert trainers who understand what they’ve gone through.

After more than a year in the program, Juliano made fitness gains, and a research study that tracks her heart rate, muscle mass and other health indicators with high-tech equipment confirmed her progress. She gained intangible benefits as well — a community of survivors who have been a source of motivation.

“There are some women who have been participating in the program since it started, and it’s just so inspiring to see these women now thriving and back to their regular lives,” she said.

Read on: Cancer patients, doctors find healing, health in exercise

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