exercise for cancer patients


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cancer and exercise research

FitSteps for Life has transformed the lives of many of my patients.  They feel so much better doing FitSteps and recover from their breast cancer treatment much faster with this program.  Most importantly FitSteps saves lives by helping my patients achieve a healthy lifestyle and avoid the weight gain that comes with a sedentary lifestyle. More than 10% of body weight gain increases the risk of breast cancer recurrence and FitSteps is an effective tool for my patients in preventing this. FitSteps Rocks!!!

Dr. Joyce O’Shaughnessy, MD
Celebrating Women Chair in Breast Cancer Research
Baylor University Medical Center Texas
Oncology Chair, Breast Cancer Research Program
The US Oncology Network
Dallas, Texas

Dr. Joyce O’Shaughnessy, MD
exercising with cancer

FitSteps for Life was a wonderfully strong and vibrant lifeline after my diagnosis with Stage III breast cancer. No matter your activity or fitness level before cancer, once you start treatment (and even after you finish!), everything changes. Having a professional team, knowledgeable on what I was going through, not only gave me appropriate exercises, also helped me work through many of my fears and frustrations. There were days when they encouraged me and challenged me in what I was doing, but there were also days when they would remind me that I wasn’t at the same level that I was before my treatments – that my body was going through some serious and dramatic (and traumatic) changes. They helped me to not get too frustrated when walking to the mailbox was a struggle; instead, they helped me celebrate the ability to get out and just get moving. Going to a gym to workout can be very intimidating – going to a gym with no hair, no fingernails, limited strength, and a huge fear of germs can be paralyzing. FitSteps facilities are different. There are people who are have lost all of their hair or in process of losing it all; who are in walkers and wheelchairs; who are wearing masks and gloves; who love to dance and workout, and those who don’t. There is no judgment or ridicule. There is support, strength, and comradery. There are trainers who are happy and willing to work with you at whatever level you are at, and who understand your treatments and limitations. They truly are there to get you through.  There are many things cancer did to me. One of the best, by far, was introducing me to the Cancer Foundation/FitSteps for Life.

Beth F, survivor
exercises for cancer patients

I learned about FitSteps while being treated for lung cancer. I had to do something to help my body fight this cancer. I noticed after exercising that I had less nausea, more energy, and actually wanted to eat. I just felt better. They helped me build up my strength, and I was even able to start walking without my oxygen tank. I finally had something to look forward to again.

Max E, survivor

I am a 4x cancer survivor. I can contribute my survival to consistent exercising at FitSteps. We are always challenged and motivated with new exercises. Thanks for providing this service to us.


My oncologist stressed 150 minutes minimum a week of walking, even if you could only do 10 minutes at a time. Keep going! It made me feel better all through chemo! 3 1/2 yrs later, I still walk and feel great. Thanks FitSteps!! You are fabulous!

Many thanks!

Holly Lewis Bailey

When I first started attending FitSteps (about a year and a half ago) I could barely walk, even with a cane, could not stand up straight, and had no strength. With FitSteps and the encouragement of my instructors, I am now able to function like a normal person. Thank goodness for your program!


I feel fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to exercise and interact with others who are fighting this ugly disease too. The positive encouragement and proper exercise training I receive is priceless!


We can’t say thank you enough for all that your organization has done over the years to give our Mom a purpose in life. When we had to say goodbye to her, your organization was in our thoughts. Our appreciation cannot be expressed enough. Because of your wonderful, caring staff she had a goal. Something to do. Was excited to see her friends. A reason to get moving every day. She truly enjoyed her daily trips to the FitSteps program. Getting up, getting ready and going to her daily workouts became very important to her. Once again, thank you from our family. May God bless each and every one of you as you provide a very important service to the community.


FitSteps has given me a second family. I am glad I got cancer, so I could find FitSteps. All my best friends are there. I became a volunteer to encourage and help other people on their cancer journey. I also wanted to give back to FitSteps. I feel every cancer survivor could definitely benefit from FitSteps.

Boo Eubanks

My note of gratitude for the FitSTEPS for Life® program at the Charles Sammons Cancer Center- and special appreciation for Kathy Kresnick-is long overdue. I was diagnosed with breast cancer and started radiation treatments in late August. No one had told me about the FitSTEPS for Life® program but luckily I saw the signs and picked up a brochure-and then dropped by the exercise room. I met Kathy and I learned that exercising could actually help relieve the side effects of radiation and even help fight the recurrence of cancer. When I realized that it could be and should be part of my treatment, it made that long six and a half weeks so much easier. I truly believe it was and is an essential part of my treatment and my journey. Kathy and her team make everyone feel welcome and they always have time to show you new things and keep you motivated. Most of time you go in and out of treatments quickly so going to exercise was the positive point of the day. You should be very proud of this team and this program. I hope that more and more patients can take advantage of it. I can honestly say Kathy has me in better shape after radiation than before and I am truly grateful. I hope that all the doctors and nurses at Baylor know about this wonderful resource. Thanks so much for making this available to the patients. For me, it has made all the difference.


Since the program Fit for Life opened its doors around July 2017 we have enrolled dozens of patients on it. The patient’s situations are very diverse. Some are undergoing chemotherapy, while others are long-term cancer survivors. The patient’s feedback has been outstanding. They report improved energy, self-esteem, and quality of life. They feel that they are getting an excellent service that compliments well the care that they get at Hendrick Cancer Center. I personally feel that FitSteps for Life is an invaluable service for our patients and a blessing for our community.

Jose Vega, MD
Medical Director
Hendrick Cancer Center

Jose Vega, MD, Medical Director Hendrick Cancer Center

I am writing in support for the FitSteps for Life program you have developed and direct. It provides an essential part of comprehensive oncologic care to help reduce side effects, improve quality of life, and most importantly improve cancer survival. ASCO along with the Commission on Cancer have made this a priority in survivorship programs to help patients come back to their healthy self. Exercise programs have shown in numerous trials to do just that. It is a program that I have personally referred patients to with excellent results. The Baylor Scott & White Quality Alliance Oncology Best Care Subcommittee has endorsed that patients be considered for participation in such programs where available and help with expansion where possible for greater patient access.

Manish Gupta, MD
Baylor Scott & White Quality Alliance
Chairman of BSWQA Oncology Subcommittee

Manish Gupta, MD

I am writing to express my strong support for the Cancer Foundation for Life, and the FitSteps for Life program. The program at the Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center has been strongly endorsed by our patients and physicians alike. Since moving into our new facility in 2011 the program has grown in size and scope. We currently have a research trial in conjunction with FitSteps for Life that incorporates exercise alongside chemotherapy in the treatment of breast cancer.

New evidence for a role for exercise in cancer prevention, treatment and survivorship is constantly being reported. The National Cancer Institute reports that, “Colorectal cancer has been one of the most extensively studied cancers in relation to physical activity, with more than 50 studies examining this association. Many studies in the United States and around the world have consistently found that adults who increase their physical activity, either in intensity, duration, or frequency, can reduce their risk of developing colon cancer by 30 to 40 percent relative to those who are sedentary regardless of body mass index (BMI), with the greatest risk reduction seen among those who are most active.”

Regarding breast cancer they report: “Research indicates that physical activity after a diagnosis of breast cancer may be beneficial in improving quality of life, reducing fatigue and assisting with energy balance. Both reduced physical activity and the side effects of treatment have been linked to weight gain after a breast cancer diagnosis. One study found that women who exercised moderately (the equivalent of walking 3 to 5 hours per week at an average page) after a diagnosis of breast cancer had improved survival rates compared with more sedentary women.”

I strongly endorse expansion of programs throughout Baylor Scott & White Health to benefit an increased number of individuals at risk for; diagnosed with; and post treatment of cancer. The FitSteps for Life program should be supported and expanded to allow more people access to this important anti-cancer modality.

Alan M. Miller, MD, PhD
Baylor University Medical Center

Director, Baylor Charles A Sammons Cancer Center
Chief of Oncology, Baylor Health Care System
Pauline Allen Gill Distinguished Chair in Hematologic Cancer Research
Professor of Internal Medicine, Texas A&M College of Medicine


Alan M. Miller, MD, PhD

Exercise therapy has become a quintessential element of management of cancer care at this time. Both preconditioning as well as reconditioning following cancer therapy has proven to significantly enhance survival and even reduce likelihood of recurrence of malignancy. I feel it is critical that this program (FitSteps for Life) be supported in a comprehensive fashion.

R. Steven Paulson, MD
President & Chairman of the Board, Texas Oncology

R. Steven Paulson, MD