Soon cancer survivors and patients will have a place to work out and gain a new wellness of life in Athens.

The Cancer Foundation for Life a non-profit organization based out of Tyler,will be opening a branch in the Cain Center. The Foundation provides rehabilitation for cancer survivors and patients who have lived through radiation and chemotherapy.

“Our goal is to provide a way to make their lives better: Physically as well as mentally,” foundation founder Dr. Gary Kimmel said. Kimmel was an oncologist for thirty years, where he saw the toll cancer takes in the lives of those afflicted. Kimmel noticed that survivors and patients had no place to go where they could rehab from the aftereffects of the tests and drugs needed to diagnose and treat cancer. Once he retired , in 2001, he bought some workout equipment and began telling physicians about his new foundation.

In order to get involved in the program a person needs a physician’s referral. Once that is obtained, they can begin the program. In order to begin in Athens, the foundation received a grant from the Ginger Murchison Foundation so that they could provide Cain Center memberships to all of the participants. The foundation itself is run entirely by grant money and philanthropy. Each person who is refereed to the program will be given a Single or Family Membership for a year.

“It’s a win/win situation for us,” Cain Center Executive Director Marcia Colbert said. “The program has a lot of merit, and will help people in the community prolong their lives.” Once Cain Center was able to team up with the Murchison Foundation the program was able to begin planning,

“We give the option of a family membership, because we find that people tend to stay in the program longer if they have someone to work out with,” Maureen Lake said. The patient will first meet with an employee of the foundation for an evaluation. During the evaluation the patient answers 36 questions about how they feel. The foundation then takes this information along with the medical records from the physician a create a completely individualized program for that patient.

“The important thing is that each person has their own program,” Dr. Kimmel said. “We will take a treadmill to their house in the beginning if that is what they need.” The workout equipment is not like the equipment found in most gyms. The foundation works with T.D. Fitness to use just the right equipment. The equipment is specifically for elderly rehab. There are guardrails on the treadmills, and on the elliptical macine to help stabilize individuals who are weak from the harsh chemicals they need to take to fight their cancer.

“We are enhancing their quality of life,” Dr. Kimmel said. To do this they choose places that will make their patients fill a part. Their programs are in churches and places like the Cain Center, because they do not want their patients to be embarrassed while working out. Along with a workout program, the foundation provides a booklet that helps with nutrition and answering certain questions that cancer patients must deal with. Participants also find others who are dealing with the same problems they are. In meeting these people they realize that they are not alone.

The Cancer Foundation for Life will begin accepting physician referrals September 4. For more information about the foundation please go to www.cancerfoundationforlife.org.

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