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Prehabilitation Helping Cancer Patients

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -   On a Thursday afternoon in Cedar Rapids, a yoga class at the Ghosh Center for Oncology and Hematology was changing lives. As the music played and class members peacefully practiced chair yoga, each of them, by relaxing, was battling for their life.

"It's essential to turning the whole thing around, Gwenda Thomas said.

Thomas was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and has been in remission for the past four years.  She said she has support in her battle by working with Doctor Chirantan Ghosh. The approach at the Ghosh Center is called Phase One or Prehabilitation.

In the first phase, the goal is to educate cancer patients and make them stronger emotionally, spiritually and physically.

I would say that the main goal that we have for the patients is to get them to relax. The science seems pretty clear that the stress is not conducive to healing, Yoga Instructor Sterling Hart said.

The prehab philosophy started with orthopedic surgeons doing prehab with older knee and hip replacement patients prior to surgery. When that worked, it sparked interest for cancer patients.

 The prehab is what we can do so you don't get sick from the treatment," Doctor Ghosh said. 

Thomas explained that when going through chemo, often a patients appetite is gone.

Nothing sounds good, yet you have to stay healthy, she said.

Thats where Jackie Fetter of Honest Living steps in. She works to teach Ghosh cancer patients healthy ways to cook with fresh food that will help them in their fight against cancer. 

With going over nutrition with people that have dulled senses and tastes, smell and things like that, we typically want to have it be whole foods, something really bright and vibrant. Things that are not processed as much typically taste more lively.  Fetter said.

Thomas said it truly makes a difference for her. She said the classes help her understand what is healthy and by sampling the food, she only goes through the effort to make a dish, if she likes it.

The yoga and nutrition lessons are free to Ghosh patients because Doctor Ghosh explained that all round it works.

 The recovery time is better and the complication is less, Doctor Ghosh said that frees him up because his patients are healthier.
Steven Lnenicka is a Ghosh patient who is fighting bone cancer. When he was first diagnosed 10 months ago, he was told he had about two weeks to live. He attributes his success to the prehab approach of the Ghosh Center. 

All of his patients, you know, its really good for us, cause coming here a couple times a week, it really, gives ya some energy, Lnenicka said. 

For Thomas, it's a methodology that is her lifeline.

The focus is on hope. Doctor Ghosh gives you a sense of control, She said. 

 To learn more about the Ghosh Center, click here.

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