Movement for the Cancer Survivor
When I was going through my Pilates certification process in July of 2001 as an apprentice, I was privileged to teach pilates to a cancer survivor named Barbara who had a double mastectomy with reconstruction using the transverse abdominal muscles. Her surgeon told her movement would be severely limited after the surgery and that she would never to able to return to her pre-cancer surgery fitness level. Barbara ignored his doomsday dismissal of her life. Through Pilates she discovered that not only did her pre-surgery fitness level return, but she was also stronger than before. When I left the certification center to return to Nashville, Barbara was taking three Pilates sessions per week and was performing advanced Pilates moves. She was amazing, and an inspiring example of what the Pilates method can do for the body.
Pilates movement originates from the abdominal muscles. During the exercise, the abdominals as well as the lower back muscles are used, and thereby strengthened. In Barbara’s case, strengthening the muscles that were weakened during surgery, helped her in creating strength and balance in her body.
Since I was certified, many cancer survivors have entered my studio door. I have been amazed at their determination, courage and dedication to regaining their health. As I have taught the Pilates method that Joseph Pilates taught us to teach, I have witnessed this method bring movement, flexibility, strength and hope to those cancer patients who have made a commitment to what Pilates has to offer.
Julee Jones with client Helen Lane of Nashville
No two patients have the same exercise and physical activity recommendations. Each person is unique given their many permutations and combinations of their own health challenges and pre-existing medical and orthopedic conditions. I was certified as a Cancer Exercise Specialist by Andrea Leonard, a cancer survivor who created the certification. She teaches how to safely assist cancer survivors in moving their bodies through a comprehensive rehabilitation program. Utilizing Pilates to help cancer survivors create strength and balance and flexibility in their bodies has helped them trust in their ability to overcome the challenges that chemo, radiation and surgery has presented to them psychologically and physically.