Springfield cancer center adds new wellness programs

The Mercy Health Springfield Regional Cancer Center has added several programs in its fight against cancer in the past several months to help patients’ physical and mental wellness.

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Partnering with research-based nonprofit Maple Tree Cancer Alliance, the center now offers a free oncology exercise rehab program for patients undergoing treatment, for those who have finished treatment or survivors.

“We’ve found patients benefit from exercise and we have an exercise physiologist on site,” said Pilar Gonzalez-Mock, director of oncology at the Springfield Cancer Center.

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The process will allow participants to work with psychosocial coordinator Ann Hembree to design a personalized plan for one-on-one sessions. The sessions are available by appointment only, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays at the cancer center, 148 W. North St. or at Springfield Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, 2600 N. Limestone St.

Since dealing with fatigue is a common trait with recovery, it can help the process in combating it. Sessions range from 30 minutes to an hour and use balance balls, bands and light basic weights.

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Gonzalez-Mock said the benefits are numerous and include: Patients do better during treatment; energy increases; there is an increased range of motion; there are decreased treatment-related side effects; muscular strength and balance increases; and patients just feel better about themselves with a sense of accomplishment.

“This is why we’re so interested in this program,” Gonzalez-Mock said.

In the few short weeks since its introduction, there are already 10 clients and nine on a waiting list. Adding a second day is being considered.

Gonzalez-Mock credits the organization’s foundation with making this free to patients.

“We’re fortunate, we can do more with our foundation,” she said.

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Also reintroduced in September were massages, available on Thursdays. The first session is free and $10 for future 30-minute sessions performed by certified oncology massage therapist Debbie Catrow.

Massage can help patients lessen fatigue, decrease stress, improve sleep quality and reduce pain. Gonzalez-Mock said it’s somewhat unique for a smaller, community-based cancer center to offer such a service.

Counseling sessions were initiated this past summer at the center and led by Cindy Batie. The sessions are private and focus on getting feelings out about what a patient is facing, according to Gonzalez-Mock.

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“We treat the physical symptoms and if you are a patient, you want to live. There are so many feelings that impact you,” she said. “These have already made a difference since June.”

Gonzalez-Mock said the center is always looking for future wellness options that will benefit its patients and their chances for beating cancer, such as adding a lung cancer nursing specialist.

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“Being a community center, this is what we try to do. We’re reminded life is precious and you never know what will happen and this community has embraced and built this center,” she said.

For more information on these programs, call 937-523-8617.

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