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OHSU Researcher To Help Develop Well-Being Initiatives For Cancer Survivors

Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute researcher Kerri Winters-Stone, Ph.D., has been appointed to a panel of experts assigned to develop physical activity and well-being initiatives that address the specific wants, needs and interests of cancer survivors.

The panel of nationally known cancer survivorship researchers and public health professionals, including cancer survivors themselves, is the result of a multi-year partnership between YMCA of the USA and the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) to support cancer survivors.

"This initiative will make it possible for cancer survivors to take some control over their disease through physical activity," said Winters-Stone, an exercise physiologist and associate professor in the OHSU School of Nursing.

"While physical activity is important for everybody, the YMCA and LAF recognize the specific impact that being active has on individuals living with chronic diseases, such as cancer," Winters-Stone said.  

"Medical studies show that moderate levels of appropriate physical activity can reduce fatigue, boost self-esteem and improve muscle strength and physical endurance in individuals following cancer treatment. However, physical activity and wellness programs specifically for cancer survivors are scarce and often difficult to take to scale nationally," said Andy Miller, vice president of programs and policy for the LAF. 

Panel members will contribute their knowledge and perspective on evidence-based best practices through meetings, conference calls and e-mail exchanges throughout the pilot phase and implementation of the project.

"The YMCA and LAF have assembled a diverse team of experts, including academicians, cancer survivors and exercise physiologists, which will ensure that the programs are evidence-based, safe and appropriate for men and women who have faced cancer," Winters-Stone said.

The initiative is a key component of Activate America, the YMCA's bold approach to directly address the nation's growing health crisis. Through Activate America, YMCAs are shifting how they focus their work internally and externally to engage health seekers, including those living with, through and beyond a disease like cancer.

Working in close collaboration with key researchers and local YMCAs, the LAF and YMCA of the USA will begin the pilot phase of the project this fall with topic development and planning. Recruitment of YMCAs to participate in the initiative will follow in 2008.  

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The OHSU Cancer Institute is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center between Sacramento and Seattle. It comprises some 120 clinical researchers, basic scientists and population scientists who work together to translate scientific discoveries into longer and better lives for Oregon's cancer patients.

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