A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Exercise treats persistent cancer fatigue

Jill Weber excercising

Cancer survivor Jill Weber, Merrill, with Physical Therapist Mary Repking. Merrill, Wis.

Jill Weber was finished with her treatment but still feeling the typical, persistent cancer fatigue.

But the 52-year-old Merrill resident was determined to recover quickly and keep up her busy schedule as a general manager for a company that operates nine Subway stores in western and eastern Wisconsin.

After undergoing treatment for ovarian and uterine cancer, Weber saw a brochure for a Marshfield Clinic fitness program designed specifically for cancer patients.

She got a referral for the program from her oncologist at Marshfield Clinic, Dr. Arlene Gayle, and started on a series of exercises tailored for her by Mary Repking, a physical therapist at Marshfield Clinic.

Strength, balance and stretching exercises reduce fatigue associated with cancer treatment

“We started on strength and balance. I had to stand on one foot, and turn my head and upper body,” Weber said. “I didn’t even know I had a problem with balancing but it was very obvious to Mary. I just had to keep practicing, alternating feet, and just focusing on ways to keep my balance without using my hands.”

Weber also learned about stretching exercises to loosen her muscles and help increase her stamina. It was all in a folder she took home that also encouraged her to start walking.

She and her golden doodle, Sophie, started slowly at first within a four-block square, then kept increasing the distance until she was doing 30 minutes per day at a brisk pace. She also resumed golfing, swimming and playing fetch with Sophie, determined to get back to normal as quickly as possible.

“For me, the program was wonderful. I think more cancer survivors should take advantage of a fitness program to get them back to normal more quickly,” she said. “Everybody’s normal is different but I need to be able to go full speed ahead.”

Weber said she feels good and has no more pains where her cancer was located. She has regular follow-up appointments with Gayle as well as with Dr. Dale Larson, a gynecologic oncologist who performed the surgery to remove her tumors.

“So far, so good,” she said. “It’s always in the back of your mind that the cancer could return, but I don’t waste a lot of time thinking about that. I also didn’t feel like I needed support groups.

“I try to balance work and home and keep up with my exercises, especially walking Sophie, but it’s tough with my schedule. I really do feel better than ever.”


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