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Exercise IS Medicine!

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Mike AlpertMike Alpert

We know the powerful effect that exercise has on a variety of diseases. Typically, we focus on cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but research is coming out almost weekly about the positive effect exercise has on not only the prevention but also the treatment of cancer. The best evidence we have is on breast and colon cancer, but medical research is showing drastic improvements on many different types of cancer, including prostate, stomach and pancreatic cancer. We now know that women who have breast cancer cut their chances of dying from it in half if they do moderate exercise, like a 45-minute brisk walk daily, and the recurrence of the cancer drops by more than half. And, people who have colon cancer and do moderate exercise are 50% less likely to die from it.

Two years ago, my daughter lost one of her very best friends to cancer, a beautiful young woman just starting out in life gone to this dreaded disease. Watching her family go through losing their child is something that no parent should have to do. As sad as this was for my daughter, and for me as her father to witness, it gave me time to pause and to reflect on the good we have been doing for children who are struggling with this disease. With that in mind, I have asked one of the parents of a child who is in our Pediatric & Young Adult Cancer Program to write a testimonial in their words on how exercise has helped their son. The following is what she had to say:

"The word cancer is enough to rock any family, let alone when a family is hit by it on four different occasions. Our son, Zein, who is now a 12-year-old, four-time cancer survivor, has been battling two kinds of stage four cancer four different times in his life. We decided from day one to fight this beast with the best of attitudes and combat it as much as we can with keeping life as "normal" as possible amidst all the calamites. Staying positive hasn't always been easy, especially when our life all of a sudden transformed to include living in the hospital for weeks and sometimes months.

Interacting with the outer world and having a semi-healthy lifestyle became a dream of ours, but it's not something that we could easily attain due to our tight schedules and difficult reality, until one day in the summer of 2014 when Zein was recovering from his second cancer of the brain. At that time, we decided to start enrolling him and his sister in a summer camp, one that would allow him to regain some of his childhood and be in a healthy setting away from the stress of the hospitals.

Coincidently, hearing about The Claremont Club and asking about their qualifications, especially when having a kid like ours with an intense health history, we were pleasantly surprised to find that they have a fully structured program catering specifically to kids with cancer and promoting exactly what we had been looking for... a healthy lifestyle. Our whole family joined the program in 2014, and ever since, it became a part of our daily life. It's not just our kids attending camp and training sessions there, but my husband and I train there as well every other day and enjoy looking forward to working out, group classes, enjoying the facility after every chemo session or even before scans to release any sort of stress. It definitely had its positive effect on us in terms of always having a positive resource to look forward to and a healthy way to structure our lives. We even make sure that, as much as we can, we schedule the doctor appointments around our training sessions, not the other way around. We will have days where we run to catch a swim class and head to Los Angeles for a CT scan. As cancer parents, we can't stress enough on how important it is to find a healthy resource and a positive (venting) place to maintain our wellness and overall wellbeing as caregivers. The staff and team at the Claremont Club goes above and beyond to make that happen and help us, not just through the program, but with any specific health needs we might request for Zein and any of our family members, that overall aims to help reach the same positive goal of total wellness and health."

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