November 13, 2015

The Survivor Fitness Foundation gets survivors back on their feet.

Imagine going through intense treatment, being cleared by your doctor, then realizing you aren’t strong enough to go to work or even run errands. For many cancer patients, this scenario is common.

“A lot of the patients have been bedridden or they can’t be active so we need to get them strong enough. Even simple tasks like standing up and sitting down, getting in and out of your car, walking for any distance is challenging,” says Karen Dyer, coordinator of health promotions programs at the Vanderbilt Dayani Center for Health & Wellness.

Enter the Survivor Fitness Foundation.

Founded by Aaron Grunke, a cancer survivor himself, the Nashville-based foundation helps recent cancer survivors regain strength and wellness, acting as the transitional program after physical therapy to get patients strong enough to get back into daily living.

“A lot of these patients will go through physical therapy, but insurance only pays for so much,” Dyer says. Steroids and chemotherapy often cause damage to patients’ muscles, requiring more attention than insurance may cover.

The foundation provides 14 weeks of personal training and nutritional support to help empower cancer survivors. The effect on patients can be huge. Especially on people who were once very active.

“Psychologically it makes a huge difference. We hear from so many patients, ‘Oh I used to be strong, I used to be active,’ and that’s exactly what they want to do. They want to come in and regain their health again,” Dyer says.



Want to learn more about programs like this? Learn more about Vanderbilt’s RESTORE Wellness Program for Stem Cell Transplant Patients.