Crowley combated fatigue from cancer treatment by continuing
to ride his bike.
athlete in high school, Kevin Crowley, 25, was eager to stay active
during cancer treatments that lasted nearly all of 2010.
physical therapy and miles of indoor cycling workouts on a trainer,
Crowley is back at work and wrapping up graduate school at
UW-Milwaukee. He’s also hoping to hit the roads and resume a
50-miles-per-week biking regimen.
diagnosed with sarcoma, a cancer of the cells that form muscle and
connective tissue, in his left leg. He underwent chemotherapy, surgery
to replace his femur and hip, more chemo and then radiation.
active during chemo, the fatigue wasn’t so bad," says Crowley,
an accounting student who lives in Brookfield. "The last few
rounds of chemo, when I could get on the bike again, it definitely,
therapy and exercise can restore range of motion and build muscle mass
— important components of both daily activities and fitness.
Crowley’s physical therapist, Chris Walczak of Froedtert &
Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center, aerobic exercise is
documented to reduce cancer-related fatigue.
adds, "It gives them some control over their disease. They’re
actively doing something to make themselves feel better."
organizations and health clubs are offering specialized workouts, too.
The YMCA and the Lance Armstrong Foundation co-sponsor "LiveStrong
at the Y," a 12-week program held locally at the Tri-County
branch in Menomonee Falls and the Feith Ozaukee branch in Port
The focus is on
small classes and individualized plans for patients, some of whom may
still be involved in their hospital-based PT. Workouts can include
zumba, pilates, yoga, weights or cardiovascular training.
familiar with the machines and how to do different routines,"
explains Stephanie Navarro, area director of healthy lifestyles for
the YMCA of Metro Milwaukee. "If they haven’t been exercisers,
it’s getting them to make it part of their lifestyle routine."
As for Crowley,
he sees cycling, swimming and softball in his future, and he
encourages other cancer patients to pursue exercise.
"Try to be
as active as possible," he says. "Sitting around isn’t the
best way to pass the time — it can just drag on."
some exercise programs geared to cancer patients. Some have
specific start dates, while others are ongoing. Be sure to ask
if a referral from your physician or physical therapist is
4-5 p.m., Thursdays, Waukesha Memorial Hospital Professional
Office Building, Suite 305, 725 American Ave., Waukesha. Free.
Call Collette LaFrancis, (262) 928-7221.
Good Feel Better, 1-3 p.m., April 18, Oconomowoc Memorial
Hospital; May 16, PHCMA Menomonee Falls; and June 20, Waukesha
Memorial Hospital. These single-session classes are designed to
help women who are undergoing cancer treatment develop skills to
improve their appearance and self-image. Free (registration
required). Call American Cancer Society, (800) 227-2345.
Breath, Body & Stretch, 6-7:30 p.m., Tuesdays starting April
19, The Pavlic Center at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare-Elmbrook
Memorial, 19333 W. North Ave., Brookfield. Six-week sessions
include activities designed to calm the mind and lengthen the
body. $65 (registration required). Call (262) 785-2254.
Graceful Yoga, 7-8 p.m., April 28, Westwood Health and Fitness,
2900 Golf Road, Pewaukee. Free (registration required). Go to
www.westwoodfitness.org or call (262) 650-8000.
and Groovin’ After Cancer Treatment begins in September, Women’s
Pavilion of Aurora West Allis Medical Center, 8901 W. Lincoln
Ave., West Allis. Eight-week sessions will cover goal-setting,
body mechanics and more. $45 (registration required). Call (414)
cancer is far different from a generation ago. To separate fact from
fiction, M writer Cathy Breitenbucher turned to two local experts —
Dr. Peter H. Johnson, medical oncologist and medical director at
ProHealth Care Regional Cancer Center; and Dr. Craig Schulz, radiation
oncologist and medical director of oncology services at Columbia St.
Mary’s Cancer Center.
M: Is high-dose
chemotherapy the best treatment?
depends on the specific type of cancer, even the specific sub-type of
cancer, and the patient’s other medical conditions. Post-operative
therapy for Stage 3 colon cancer or Stage 2 or Stage 3 breast cancer
may often involve taking pills or undergoing intravenous therapy. By
most traditional definitions, this would not be considered
quote-unquote high-dose therapy.
Schulz: There is
certainly data that would support what we call dose-dense (treatment)
— meaning (chemo) doses given rapidly, together or close together.
They have a survival benefit in patients with breast cancer. There are
also high-dose treatments with chemotherapy for lymphomas, leukemias
and myelomas (for patients) in preparation for transplants.
M: Does a
standard protocol based on chemo and radiation show better results
than 30 or 40 years ago?
The systemic therapy is not all chemo these days. Some of it is
classic cytotoxic chemo that we may have been using for the last 30
years or more; some of those drugs are still quite useful. And yet,
the broader term of system therapy encompasses not just those agents
but other drugs (such as) oral therapy that may have few if any side
Radiation is very different than 30 to 40 years ago, at least in terms
of how we deliver it — how we can better analyze how the radiation
dose is distributed to the tumor target area. Clearly, by having
better drugs and better ability to deliver targeted therapy with
radiation, in many cancers results have been very favorable.
M: Is there an
accepted number of years for a patient in remission to be considered
safe from recurrence?
Johnson: As long
as you are living, your odds of a recurrence never go to zero but they
approach that line over time.
"c" word — cured — always is a hard one to cough up. We
tell our head and neck cancer patients, if they make it beyond that
two years after the completion of therapy, they have a very good
chance of being long-term survivors. Breast cancer, five years;
prostate, seven to 10; and lung cancer, after three years they
certainly may be long-term survivors.
alternative treatments found outside the United States a realistic
option to help a patient go into remission?
term ‘alternative therapy’ has a lot of meanings. It may mean
something like herbal therapy taken orally, acupuncture or reiki.
Being a U.S.-trained oncologist, we tend to employ medications and
techniques we are familiar and comfortable with, and which have
undergone pretty intense scrutiny by the FDA and other organizations.
Certainly, there are some alternative treatments that are offered
elsewhere or are in an experimental form right now, that are
reasonable. There are some chemotherapy drugs that are approved for
some disease sites overseas and are not approved here. It is a
realistic option in some circumstances.
M: Any other
myths about cancer treatment out there?
Johnson: We do
bump up frequently into perceptions that the chemotherapy today is no
better than or different than what was given 30 or 40 years ago where
patients, as a matter of routine, were violently ill with nausea and
vomiting, had profound weight loss, fatigue, hair loss, etc., and many
of those instances required extensive and intensive hospitalizations
for weeks on end. Fortunately, nowadays that’s the rare exception
and not the rule.
There is also
the notion that cancer is driven by sugar, and if you can just cut out
all the sugar in your diet you’ll cure your cancer. Unfortunately,
that’s not true. It would be great if it were.
Schulz: The same
goes with the bad effects of radiation. We have ways of pinpointing
radiation beams or sculpting radiation treatments very precisely to
treat what we want to treat and minimize the doses to the surrounding
tissue, therefore keeping side effects very manageable. The other big
myth is that cancer patients are contagious. I hear it all the