A group of cancer patients on yoga mats engages in playful banter as a certified fitness instructor and two-time cancer survivor leads them through a series of low-impact exercises and stretches designed to keep them nimble and smiling.
Offered by Nebraska Cancer Specialists, the class is part of a Movement for Longevity wellness series open to individuals at any stage in their cancer journey — from early diagnosis to recovery. Friends, family members and caregivers also are welcome to participate.
Four-, eight- and 12-week sessions are available for a suggested donation of $10 to the NCS HOPE Foundation. Course options include meditation, stretching, tai chi, yoga, chair yoga and strength training.
“Our Movement for Longevity classes focus on slow, gentle, low-impact movements and breathing to relax the body and help promote blood circulation,” says Kelly Horn, physician liaison at Nebraska Cancer Specialists.
Classes often fill soon after being announced (a wait list prioritizes new participants). The next sessions will begin in January.
“Many individuals are living longer with cancer, and it’s additionally important to stay active,” Horn says.
“We often times find that after a cancer diagnosis, patients don’t always feel comfortable going back into the gym environment,” Horn says. “Our fitness classes give them an opportunity to stay active with individuals who are going through similar circumstances in a convenient, private setting.”
Movement for Longevity started as a pop-up class in fall 2018 after a former patient suggested the idea to the Patient-Family Advisory Committee at Nebraska Cancer Specialists.
“The program has grown from one weekly tai chi class to eight weekly classes in two locations offering more than 165 hours of volunteer instruction to more than 100 patients and caregivers,” Horn says.
There currently are six Movement for Longevity volunteer instructors — three are cancer survivors and three are occupational therapists who work with oncology patients on a daily basis.
(Volunteer instructors are welcome. Find an application at NCSHOPEFoundation.org.)
“It’s remarkable to see participants have the courage and desire to attend the classes, especially on days when they aren’t feeling well,” Horn says. “For the most part, they always leave feeling better than when they arrived — with a smile on their face.”
Movement for Longevity is a community service that complements the Nebraska Cancer Specialists’ mission, Horn says.
“We are committed to delivering compassionate, personalized, cutting-edge care in a convenient outpatient community oncology setting.”
Services include diagnosis, treatment, research, occupational therapy, mental health, pharmacy, genetic counseling, fitness and nutrition classes.
For more information, visit www.nebraskacancer.com/movementforlongevity.