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Exercise Program Offers Hope and Pride for Cancer Patients


CaroMont's P.R.I.D.E Program Empowers Cancer Patients Through Exercise

A daily dose of exercise is good for everyone, especially if you have cancer. When Cheryl Vagnozzi, 50, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, she felt hopeless and scared. Fortunately, Vagnozzi’s cancer was detected early and she’s now on the road to recovery receiving radiation treatments and entering her fourth week of CaroMont’s P.R.I.D.E Program (Power to Recover through Individualized Development and Exercise). P.R.I.D.E is an eight-week wellness and exercise program designed to assist in managing the physical, social, psychological and spiritual side effects of cancer treatment.

“Exercising is not my thing,” said Vagnozzi. “I am a hands-on person, and I like to see immediate results. I was very reserved in the beginning, but I’m already feeling much better than when I started, and I enjoy talking to the ladies at the gym.”

Vagnozzi learned about the program through her patient navigator and made the decision to join because she thought it would force her to make health a priority. As a mother of three, Vagnozzi is accustomed to caring for everyone else first. The P.R.I.D.E Program has shown her that she needs to take time for herself so she can be there for her family in the future.

“After the diagnosis, I realized I had no other choice but to do everything I could to fight this,” said Vagnozzi. “I told myself, ‘This is your life!’ And through the process, I’ve discovered an inner strength I didn’t know I had and I have hope again.”

Emerging research shows routine exercise improves the quality of life of cancer patients and also lowers recurrence rates in common cancer sites like breast, colorectal and prostate. CaroMont’s P.R.I.D.E Program aims to encourage survivorship by reducing fatigue, maintaining or improving strength and endurance, enhancing overall quality of life, promoting independence in normal activities and decreasing future risk.

Amanda Lee, Exercise Physiologist and P.R.I.D.E Program Coordinator at CaroMont Health, knows personally about the challenges cancer patients face. In 2007, her mother passed away from breast cancer, and her father has been affected with prostate cancer. As part of her thesis project, Lee revamped an existing cancer program to create P.R.I.D.E.

“Understanding the physical, social and psychological effects cancer has on someone, CaroMont’s P.R.I.D.E Program is a customized curriculum that gives cancer patients a better quality of life during their journey with cancer and beyond,” said Lee.

Nearly two years into it, the program has offered nine, 8-week sessions to nearly 80 participants who come from all walks of life.

“So many participants later tell me how much they enjoy coming each week because it’s like their support group,” said Lee. “I reap the benefits of watching the amazing transformation that takes place in each individual in that their energy levels increase, they experience improved sleep and more importantly, I see hope in their eyes.”

Participants in the program are medically-referred by their physician. The group meets every Tuesday and Thursday at CaroMont Health and Fitness Center for an hour and a half. Sessions consist of cardio exercises, body sculpting and a lecture series covering a range of topics including nutrition, advance directives, genetic counseling, stress management, sleep health, home safety and survivorship.

A celebration is held at the end of the program and participants receive a pedometer, work out towel, water bottle, work out band and t-shirt. Spouses are encouraged to attend with their loved one; completion rates tend to be greater if a significant other is going through the program as it creates additional support to the patient.

For more information about the P.R.I.D.E Program, please call 704.671.7930.

Categories: Health