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Mercy Medical Center Program Offers Cancer Patients Exercise, Social Support

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, while dealing with a cancer diagnosis, can be difficult, and often lonely.

To help people throughout their cancer journey, Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh offers PEACE (People Exercising After Cancer Enters), a free exercise and relaxation program for people who have cancer or are cancer survivors. Participants meet from 1-3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Based in group exercise, the program includes stretching, range of motion, strengthening, balance and cardio. Each participant also receives an individual strength program that is modified as needed.

PEACE bob and mike

PEACE participants: Bob Jakubowski and Mike Van Mun

Long-term participants in the program report improved mobility and endurance. However, the program’s greatest strength is the healing exchange that comes through socialization and group support.

“PEACE provides support not only as medical staff, but as friends,” said Lori Christianson, physical therapist assistant at Mercy Medical Center. “A cancer diagnosis is a difficult time in our patients’ lives, but with involvement in PEACE they are able to find community and support in facing it together.”

peace steve

PEACE participant: Steve Moon

Each session starts with 30 minutes of stretching, flexibility and balance. Then participants follow their individualized training regimen. Every session ends with group time for healing and relaxation, using guided imagery, music or visualization technique in a calm, quiet low-lit area. Special presentations on acupuncture, nutrition and massage are also offered, and emphasize the connection between mind, body and spirit.

“Most people who come into the PEACE program have never used workout equipment,” Christianson said. “However, we encourage each person to try something. Our goal is to help participants find the piece of equipment that works best for them.”

peace irene

PEACE participant: Irene Garbe

PEACE complements the Outpatient Oncology Rehab services at the Mercy Oakwood Outpatient Department and the Michael D. Wachtel Cancer Center. Started in 2011, PEACE is fully funded by the Mercy Health Foundation.

For information or to register, contact lori.christianson@ascension.org or call 920-223-0568.

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