How BOSU® helps cancer patients during recovery and Therapy

Incorporating the BOSU® at home or in the gym can be an amazing addition to your workout. For the girly girl and those looking to give back towards a worthy cause the Pink BOSU® would be the ideal choice! 

Breast CancerThe Pink BOSU® is available here.

The BOSU® has played an instrumental part in recovery therapy concerning cancer patients. Andrea Leonard has used BOSU® as part of her cancer exercise program for years because it helps patients/survivors with balance and core strength, in addition to functional and traditional strength training exercises. This is critical for cancer survivors as loss of balance, compromised of core strength and stability, and osteoporosis are all potential side-effects from a number of cancer treatments. Additionally, bouncing gently on the BOSU® helps to stimulate the flow of lymphatic fluid and can play an invaluable role in promoting lymph drainage and preventing and/or managing lymphedema.

To learn more about Andrea and how fitness helped her cope with her cancer battle continuing reading below.

How did you mentally cope with being diagnosed with thyroid cancer at such a young age?

I think it is safe to say that I really didn’t have a clear understanding of what was going on. I had just graduated from high school and went to work at Ocean City for the summer with my friends. I remember the day I got the call; “You have probable cancer. We need you to come home and have surgery.” While I am sure I was in shock at the idea of having cancer (my mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer and undergone a mastectomy three years prior), I was an 18 year old girl who just wanted to have fun with her friends. I went home for surgery on a Friday and was back at the beach the following Monday. Needless to say, I ended up sick as a dog, but I gave it my best shot. Within the week I was back at home recovering with mom and dad by my side.

What made you want to write The Cancer Exercise Specialist Handbook? While undergoing treatment did you find other patients needing to be active such as yourself?

I first published “Essential Exercises for Breast Cancer Survivors,” in 2000. I was training my mothers’ breast surgeon, Dr. Katherine Alley. This was back in 1996 when there was virtually NO information available on cancer and exercise. I asked her if she thought it was a good idea to write a book on exercises for breast cancer survivors. She emphatically said “yes!” For the next three years I worked with Dr. Alley and her husband Dr. Richard Flax, along with the chiefs of breast surgery at Georgetown, George Washington, and Johns Hopkins University Hospitals to develop the cutting-edge exercise program that EE offered. We also had the help of exercise physiologists and physical and occupational therapists to develop the protocol. I relocated to OR about that time, and soon realized that there were many others with different types of cancer who were also suffering needlessly. By writing the Cancer Exercise Specialist Handbook, it allowed me to touch on the special needs of people facing all of the major cancer diagnoses. We have specific protocol for fitness professional and Pilates and Yoga instructors. I hope to soon incorporate BOSU training as part of our protocol as well. There were only so many hours in the day and it was evident that there needed to be more trainers, like myself, who could reach out and help cancer survivors take control of their lives again. It was at that point that I started the Cancer Exercise Training Institute. Our mission is simple: “To Educate Health & Fitness Professional to Empower Cancer Survivors.” I have personally trained thousands of health and fitness professionals in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Singapore, Switzerland, Jordan, Israel, The Netherlands, and Canada. As far as while I was undergoing treatment, I was too young to really see past my own personal needs at the time. I had not yet immersed myself in the fitness field either

How has The Breast Cancer Survivor’s Foundation been helpful to cancer survivors and their families? How can people get involved?

The Breast Cancer Survivors Foundation was an OR based 501-c3 that I established back in 2000. The goal was to raise money to support breast cancer and their families. We gave grants to breast cancer survivors to work with Certified Cancer Exercise Specialists, free of charge, for eight one-hour sessions. After 9/11, it became quite a challenge to raise sufficient funds to accomplish what I had set out to do. Unfortunately I had to dissolve the company. The good news is that in it’s absence, the Cancer Exercise Training Institute was created! I currently work closely with a wonderful non-profit group out of WV called Walking Miracles. They support our Cancer Exercise Specialist training and provide grants to cancer survivors, as well to health and fitness professionals, who want to get certified through The Cancer Exercise Training Institute. I would ask that anyone who would like to help, please make their tax-deductible donation to Walking Miracles. If someone wants to directly sponsor a fitness professional, or a cancer patient, that request can be made along with the donation so that that particular person will get the training. Another way someone can get involved is by purchasing a Pink Bosu. I am a staunch advocate of the BOSU, and the many benefits it can provide for a recovering cancer patient. I am working with them to develop specific protocol for breast cancer survivors. By purchasing a Pink Bosu for the woman in your life, not only are you providing them a safe and effective exercise tool, but a percentage of the proceeds will go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. It’s a win win situation!

You are an inspiration to women young and old, who is your inspiration? 

Wow. I never really thought of myself as anything but a passionate cancer survivor who wanted to keep others from going through the needless suffering that I have witnessed through my own personal experiences; particularly those relating to my mom. She was later diagnosed with breast cancer in her other breast as well as thyroid cancer. My father currently has prostate and bladder cancer. Almost everyone in both sides of my family has had some time of cancer. I just want to make a difference. I am flattered if I am an inspiration to just one person. If I can have a positive impact on one persons’ life, than all these years of hard work and dedication will be worth it. As for my inspiration...without a doubt it (she) is my mother. She has undergone two mastectomies, abdominal TRAM reconstruction, and a thyroidectomy. She has suffered through a frozen shoulder (because she was never told to move her arm after surgery), permanent nerve damage (which resulted in a narcotic addiction that she had to go through a summer of detox for), constant staph infections which caused her to eventually lose her breast implant (reconstruction), and years of chronic pain. It was difficult for my entire family growing up in a household challenged with the demands and special needs of a sick mother. But as they say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” That being said, my mother, myself, and after cancer survivor out there must be the likes of Hercules!

Nadia Murdock - NY Fitness Examiner
Twitter: @Nadiam23

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