What is cancer rehab and how can it help?

What is Cancer Rehab?

Cancer rehabilitation can be defined as a process that assists each individual with cancer to obtain their maximal physical, social, psychological and vocational function within the limits created by their disease and its resulting treatment.

That really means helping people to overcome the challenges that cancer and its treatment has given them. It may be to help with fatigue management during chemotherapy or radiotherapy; to regain mobility and strength after surgery; to reduce anxiety and breathe more effectively, or to gradually regain some strength and fitness and regain confidence in themselves and their body after treatment has finished. For men who are managed on hormone therapy following prostate cancer it involves maintaining muscle strength and specific exercises to maintain bone density which is adversely affected by hormone therapy.

How will it help?

Cancer rehabilitation can be preventative, restorative, supportive and palliative, – aimed at helping all people with cancer to live as well as possible and maintain independence and quality of life or as long as possible.

Every person’s experience following a cancer diagnosis is unique!

If you have had a cancer diagnosis, your life will have changed in an instant on receiving that news! You will, most likely have had lots of investigations followed by either surgery, radiotherapy or extensive chemotherapy or immunotherapy and depending on the type of cancer you may be on hormone therapy to control any spread.

Often treatment is commenced soon after diagnosis – so there is little time to prepare. If there is time it can be helpful to have a pre-operative exercise program to learn specific exercises to help your condition, boost your strength and stamina and guide you on what to expect and how to recover well after your surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

As a result of the disease process and the treatment itself patients often develop unwanted side effects e.g.

  • Pain, limited range of motion, scar adhesions
  • lymphoedema, osteoporosis, peripheral neuropathy
  • Changes in body composition- loss of muscle tone and strength including pelvic  floor control
  • Fatigue, nausea, depressionA
  • Altered cognitive capacity
  • Reduced sleep, poor posture and decreased energy levels
  • Reduced fitness and body confidence
  • Increased incidence in other co-morbidities

Most people are unaware of the huge amount of evidence supporting the value of exercise both during and after cancer treatment has finished. The fact that cancer therapy often involves several months of chemotherapy or radiotherapy and often major surgery, combined with the effects of immobility due to pain means that muscle wasting, joint stiffness, deconditioning and fatigue may be inevitable. If you are able to exercise during your treatment phase, it can make it easier for you to tolerate the side effects from toxic cancer therapies, help manage fatigue and to heal more quickly allowing you to live a better quality of life and to do more.
However Cancer rehab is not only about exercise. It involves listening closely to what is really important to each person and to help them to overcome their barriers and achieve their personal goals.

What does Cancer rehab at Eastern Sports and Spinal Care involve?

Libby Austin is a qualified Pinc and Steel Cancer rehabilitation physiotherapist who works with both men and women with all types of cancer to overcome the burdens of cancer and its treatment and to help each individual live well.

During the treatment phase when your immune system is often suppressed, Libby sees people individually to help manage pain, fatigue, regain range of movement and maintain optimal function. This may involve teaching relaxation techniques, pacing of activities and regaining shoulder range after breast surgery, or neck mobility after lymph node removal and radiotherapy, gentle exercise to maintain strength and daily function.

Once treatment has finished, our focus is on helping you regain core strength, upper and lower limb mobility and strength, balance and cardiovascular fitness to help you return to work or the activities you enjoy. If we have enough people at the same stage of recovery, we will run a specific Next Steps Class but otherwise we will develop an individualised program for you and gradually progress you within our equipment or Lifestyle fitness classes.

It is never too late to have some Cancer rehabilitation!

Phone 83310606 today to start your recovery and feel more in control!

Find out about our Cancer Rehabilitation programs