No walking cane, no problem
Cancer Exercise Program builds stability, instills hope in former nurse.
Johnny Woodhouse Published: 10/28/2018
Ever since falling and breaking one of her hips, Laura Hoppe never goes anywhere without her walking cane.
But after enrolling in a new Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center exercise program at the Jewish Community Alliance (JCA), Hoppe, a retired nurse and breast cancer survivor, is not only using her cane less often, she’s also increased her cardiovascular fitness by more than 30 percent.
“And my balance is a lot better, too,” said the grandmother of five. “This program is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.”
A nurse for more than 30 years, Hoppe, 69, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2017. Before undergoing radiation treatments, she paid a visit to the Wellness Connexion, a complementary health-improvement service offered to all JCA members through a partnership with Baptist Health.
Staffed by Baptist Health wellness coaches Cheryl Meyer, RN, and Amaris Chrispell, RN, the Wellness Connexion takes a comprehensive approach to helping people achieve their personal health and wellness goals by encouraging healthier behaviors and assessing health risks.
Participants take a confidential online wellness assessment, followed by screenings for blood pressure, body composition, cholesterol, glucose (blood sugar) and triglycerides, a type of fat found in blood. Wellness coaches also provide personalized coaching, health education programming and health care navigation services within the Baptist Health system.
To be eligible for the Cancer Exercise Program, participants must be currently undergoing cancer treatment or, like Hoppe, cancer free.
“After speaking with Laura about her goals, I created a post-treatment exercise plan that included cardio, stretching and balance exercises,” said Chrispell, a certified medical exercise specialist and a personal trainer for more than 15 years. “She made a commitment to be here and it shows in her results.”
Over a recent three-month period, Hoppe’s resting heart rate fell by 25 points, as did her systolic blood pressure (the amount of pressure in the arteries during heart contractions). Her total fatigue score, which measures symptoms of both mental and physical fatigue, fell 46 points, from 47 at the start of the program to a 1 at the end.
“I feel fatigued if I don’t work out,” said Hoppe, who takes part in the Cancer Exercise Program at least twice a week. “It’s not any fun being around grandchildren if all you are doing is sitting in a chair. This Baptist Health program at the JCA gives me a reason to work on my balance and stability on a regular basis.”
Another JCA member and cancer exercise participant who has also made significant gains in cardio, strength and balance since enrolling in the program only wishes she had started the program sooner.
“I could have maintained my fitness levels and felt much better while I was undergoing my chemo treatment and bone marrow transplants for lymphoma,” said Patricia Hoyt, a Baptist Primary Care patient.
Last year, Hoppe was reaching for her high school yearbook in a cluttered closet when she slipped and broke her hip. Due to her hip replacement surgery and the progress she made in the Cancer Exercise Program, Hoppe was able to attend her 50th high school reunion this year in Iowa.
“We don’t just teach exercises in the program; we also instill hope,” said Chrispell.
To learn about Wellness Connexion programs or to make an appointment with a wellness coach, call 904.365.4087.