Cancer Rehabilitation

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What is Cancer Rehabilitation?

Cancer rehabilitation is a supportive health care service involving coordinated, multidisciplinary interventions delivered by trained professionals. These efforts are targeted to improve your function and participation in life roles, work, and leisure activities.

Michael D. Stubblefield, MD is the director of cancer rehabilitation for Kessler Institute and both the national medical director for the ReVital Cancer Rehabilitation Program and the architect of comprehensive cancer rehabilitation programs across Select Medical’s national network of inpatient rehabilitation hospitals and outpatient therapy centers.

Learn more about Dr. Stubblefield »

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Why is Cancer Rehabilitation Important?

Most cancer survivors will face at least one issue related to their treatment that affects their ability to do the things in their daily life that they want to do.

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Crystal A. Champion, PT, DPT, CLT-ALM, CERT. DN

Dr. Champion is a physical therapist, certified lymphedema therapist, principal of her own oncology rehabilitation practice – Eminence Physical Therapy, founder of the non-profit Champions Can! Foundation for Cancer Wellness Inc, and author of the book The Elements of Cancer Survivorship: A Guide to Navigating the Journey. In December of 2019, she received her own breast cancer diagnosis. Through her subsequent treatment, and recovery, she found herself following her own advice that she had spent years giving her patients. Going forward with her work and her nonprofit foundation, her primary focus will continue to be on advocating for all patients to receive some form of cancer rehabilitation. Dr. Champion is a 2020 NCCS Elevate Ambassador and is working on a second edition of her book to include the information she learned after becoming a cancer survivor.

Learn more about Dr. Champion’s story: NCCS Advocate Spotlight: Dr. Crystal A. Champion

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Cora Fahy, PTA

As a physical therapist assistant specializing in lymphedema and breast cancer rehabilitation, Cora Fahy’s diagnosis of Stage 2A ER/PR+ Her2- IDC Multifocal Multicentric breast cancer in 2015 was something she could handle. She understood the pathology, the treatment, and the prognosis from working with other women going through it. Cora soon learned to navigate recovery and survivorship of the breast cancer diagnosis that led her to advocacy. In 2019, Cora traveled to Washington, DC to attend NCCS Cancer Policy and Advocacy Team (CPAT) Symposium and Hill Day.

Learn more about Cora’s story:  NCCS Advocate Spotlight: Cora Fahy

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Marie Michel

Marie Michel is a breast cancer survivor that benefited from ReVital Cancer Rehabilitation. It helped her get back on her feet and gave her the strength to be able to complete everyday tasks by herself again after chemotherapy and surgery.

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Nancy Howe, MS, CES

Nancy was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in 1997. She was a weekend athlete who exercised throughout her treatment, overcoming fatigue, and maintaining strength. Nancy left her career, earned her master’s degree in exercise at ASU, and counseled survivors about physical activity. To become a more effective advocate, Nancy entered the PhD program at ASU’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation and her research will focus on promoting cancer rehabilitation. Nancy is a 2020 Elevate Ambassador and has implemented a plan of action to improve survivorship care in her community.

Learn more about Nancy’s story: “Nancy Howe’s Cancerversary Keeps Her Moving”

Conquer Magazine: “Cancer Rehabilitation: Creating Your Parallel Universe”
Conquer Magazine: “Is Cancer Rehabilitation Right for You?”

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What are the Common Issues for Cancer Survivors?

As a result of cancer and/or its treatments, survivors may suffer from various short- and long-term side effects.  Some may suffer from pain and fatigue.  Others may have difficulty with daily living activities like sleeping, eating, and walking. For cancer survivors, they may need support returning to work and living independently.

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How Can Cancer Rehabilitation Help?

Cancer rehabilitation’s goal is to provide the best level of function possible.  Cancer survivors can expect to be evaluated, diagnosed, and provided with a treatment plan for short- and long-term side effects that are impeding their daily living activities.  This may include pain management services and therapeutic interventions by physical therapists, occupation therapists and speech-language pathologists.

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What is the Role of Therapists During Cancer Rehabilitation?

Physical therapists help you recover physical strength and mobility. Occupational therapists can help with your home and work activities like driving, caring for children and typing. Speech-language pathologists assist with speech, swallowing and eating problems.

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More About Cancer Rehabilitation

Dr. Stubblefield offers exciting insights on cancer rehabilitation as a survivorship care model in this session from our National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) Cancer Policy Roundtable in March 2020.

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ReVital Cancer Rehabilitation

Fighting cancer takes a huge toll on a survivor’s body. Up to 90 percent of cancer survivors experience pain and other function-limiting consequences brought on by chemotherapy, radiation and/or surgery. The ReVital Cancer Rehabilitation program can help survivors prepare for and maintain strength during treatment and get back to the things they care most about.

This initiative is supported by an educational grant from Daiichi Sankyo.

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