The Fit Survivor

The Survivors' Fit Club teaches breast cancer survivors about the positive impact that physical activity, nutrition, and good lifestyle habits can have on their health.
"You're challenged to do something you've never done before. You do it at your own level. You might not like every single thing, but you have fun doing it. And you always find something that surprises you, that you want to keep doing."
— Janis Newton, MUSC Wellness Center director


MUSC Hollings Cancer Center Cancer Chat graphic

Episode Details

May 2021

Run Time: 46:57

Topics: fitness, health & wellness, nutrition, survivorship, breast cancer

The Survivors' Fit Club is an impactful wellness program that offers breast cancer survivors exercise, nutrition, lifestyle, and mindfulness resources. Participants develop strong bonds and motivate each other to improve their fitness.

Janis Newton (00:00): And that's what's so much fun. You know, you're challenged to do something you've never done before. And again, like Leslie said, it's manageable. You do it at your own level. You might not like every single thing, but you have fun doing it. And you always find something that surprises you, that you want to keep doing.

Dawn Brazell (00:19): Welcome to MUSC Hollings Cancer Center's Cancer Chat podcast. I'm Dawn Brazell, communications director at Hollings. And I'm excited to introduce our two speakers today. They will be describing a 10 week wellness program. It's called Survivors' Fit Club, and it's getting rave reviews by our breast cancer survivors who have signed up. Here to talk about it today is Janis Newton, director of MUSC wellness center, and also a participant and breast cancer survivor, Leslie DeMark. Welcome to our podcast. Thank you. Hi Dawn. Hey guys. Now, Janis many people without cancer struggle to work out and eat right. Why is this program getting rave reviews? And what's the idea behind it?

Janis Newton (01:06): Dawn, you're absolutely right. Everybody, all of us struggle to get the perfect workout and nutrition for ourselves and especially on a consistent basis where it truly improves our health, but it's so important, not only for all of us, but especially if there is a disease process involved, because we know now the power of physical activity, good nutrition and other lifestyle habits and what it has on disease processes and future health. So our purpose in this program really was to increase the women's knowledge about the role of lifestyle changes in the survival of patients diagnosed with breast cancer and, you know, education is powerful. So if they understand the role of lifestyle changes and the power they have to develop new lifestyle habits, then the more likely they are to be consistent and consistent enough that it improves their health and the future possibilities of reoccurance. Also, it just helps them better cope with the side effects of breast cancer treatment. And, it's a support group that they're going through those side effects together.

Dawn Brazell (02:38): So can you tell us a little more about the program? How's it structured, what's involved?

Janis Newton (02:43): So the structure, again, it's a lifestyle program. So it has multiple components and we include many different health professionals. So there's a lot of collaboration professionally to put together a comprehensive program for these participants. So we, of course it includes lifestyle education, but physical activity is an extremely important part of it. And they participate in physical activity. Every single session there is nutrition, so they get nutrition education, but also lots of nutrition advice personal to them. They have an opportunity to discuss with dietetic interns and the nutritionist nutrition questions that they have that just pertain to themselves, not necessarily everybody. So it's very personalized. Then we have other components that have to do with attitude, mindfulness, sleep, stress and learning how to acknowledge when something feels good. So your brain wants to do it again, learning what's negotiable and not negotiable. So it helps them overcome barriers that had previously gotten in the way of them changing lifestyle habits. So there's a little bit of everything in the program. We take field trips, we go to the urban farm at MUSC. We do dragon boat rowing when we can, we just combine lots of joyous moments together.

Dawn Brazell (04:32): Now, Leslie, how did you hear about it and what has been your experience?

Leslie DeMark (04:37): Dr. Harper, she was my radiologist, recommended this program. When she offered this to me, I was super excited about it. She said it was going to be like Janis was saying, exercise and nutrition and it would be for 10 weeks, two days a week for about an hour, hour and a half and it was free. So I could do that. I was a little anxious, I guess, to start because of it being a support group. And I didn't want to be in a support group, but we got there, shared our stories and it was great. I never felt sick. We didn't really talk about it as an illness or a problem, we could talk about it if we want to. And everybody had encouraging words and good advice for different things that we all went through and everyone in the group were at different stages.

Leslie DeMark (05:51): Some people were two years ago. One of the girls was like a year ago. And then one was like six months. I had just had my double mastectomy and one of the other girls had a lumpectomy. So we had a lot of information to share and it was comforting. The exercise was all doable. It was all manageable and everybody was at a different level. So we, you know, we finished at different times, but it was good to push each other no matter what level. And we did have some little contests that was, you know, pushes you to do better. And all the activities were super fun. We laughed a lot and we were all social distancing. We didn't have to worry about, you know, COVID or anything. We were very careful. So that wasn't really a worry.

Dawn Brazell (07:04): Now let's say there had to be days when you didn't want to work out though, right? I mean, what kept you motivated?

Leslie DeMark (07:09): Yeah, there were a lot of days that I was not motivated, but I went with my neighbor. She drove and we'd get in the car. Do you want to go? No, not really. Yeah. She didn't want to go either, but all right, let's go. And we went and we had a great time. And then on the way home, we were always happy that we went, and plus I don't think Janis or Tatiana or Judith would let us get away with it.

Janis Newton (07:42): No, we would have hunted you down.

Leslie DeMark (07:45): Which is something I definitely needed. But after a while, I looked forward to going and I was really disappointed, very sad when it was over. And a couple of us asked if we could do it again, if they were going to offer this again. And if there was any openings, we'd love to do it again. So we're just waiting for another class to open up.

Janis Newton (08:12): Right. You know, there becomes a time what Leslie described, and this is what we see a lot. And it makes us really happy when we know like Leslie and Janet, when they were headed our direction, the first weeks, it would have been easier to not come then to come. But as they transition through the program, it became easier to come then not to come, not coming would have been harder for them because they were getting results. Their brain loved it. It produced brain chemicals that made them want to do it again, dopamine and things that, that help positivity and help the reward system. So they started lighting up the reward system of the brain, which is their own way of self motivation. And so it's great to see that happen. And Leslie, you also mentioned your referral source from Dr. Harper.

Janis Newton (09:13): And I do want to say how grateful we are to Dr. Harper, because she's the one that actually had the idea for this program based on another program that is done at the wellness center for lifestyle change. And some of her patients had done that program. So one day Dr. Harper walks into my office and she takes all this effort as busy as she is treating patients to come over to the wellness center, walk in my office and say, let's do a program similar to the other lifestyle program, but let's do it just for breast cancer survivors. You know, we want to give more to our patients, they need this. And so we sat and talked about it, and that's kind of why the breast cancer survivor, how the breast cancer survivors started. And so, you know, Dr. Harper was innovative, progressive impactful. I mean, I'm just so honored to have collaborated with her on this and been able to produce what she had envisioned.

Dawn Brazell (10:25): Now, Janis, you're talking about Dr. Jennifer Harper, our radiation oncologist at Hollings?

Janis Newton (10:30): Yes. So, you know, she made a big difference and not only that, then she found an organization who would fund this, which is Rackets for Recovery. And that is when you know, Leslie found out that it was free. Then it crosses any barrier. It's open to everybody. And it's really been beautiful to have such a variety there, and they don't have to worry about the cost, thanks to Rackets for Recovery.

Dawn Brazell (11:09): Yeah. It's a great group, has been a great partnership for Hollings to have the support. I do have to ask you, some people call this a bootcamp, and I guess there's a lot of bonding that happens in a bootcamp. What is your reaction to that? Both Leslie and you Janis.

Leslie DeMark (11:25): It's definitely a bootcamp because I'm not very active to begin with. So for me to go twice a week and we walked the track, we played pickleball, which I didn't even know what that was. And we worked on the machines. We even did ballet. That was a lot of fun and much harder than you think, but we did walk out feeling good. It does, it does a body good. It's good for my emotions. And I guess I didn't realize how much I needed that. With COVID, especially just being home. I wouldn't have done any of that on my own, but it was, it was manageable and they gave us good ideas that we could do at home. Like Janis said, when you're sitting, watching TV, get up during the commercial and, you know, do a couple of things and it works.

Leslie DeMark (12:27): And I did see results. At the end of the session, I lost five pounds of body fat, which turned into five pounds of muscle, which was great. And emotionally, I felt better. I found myself not sitting around as much just watching TV. So I did go out and walk and ride a bike. I got a bike for mother's day. So I was able to ride it, that was a motivation. She's absolutely right. The happier, the more you went, the happier I got, and that was good. Cause I didn't think I needed it. I thought I was handling it better. And I actually cried when it was over. It didn't have Monday or Wednesday to look forward to.

Janis Newton (13:32): We all cried when it was over. And Leslie, I cannot believe you didn't mention tae bo and boxing and martial arts. What's wrong with you?

Leslie DeMark (13:40): I know that was my favorite, I kept asking let's do that. Let's do that. I'd love Tae Bo.

Janis Newton (13:47): So, and that's, what's so much fun, you know, you're challenged to do something you've never done before. And, again, like Leslie said, it's manageable. You can do it at your own level. You might not like every single thing, but you have fun doing it. And you always find something that surprises you that you want to keep doing. And you know, one thing we talk about a lot is just moving more throughout the day because we do find that before a lot of the participants join, they really are sedentary. Even if they go out and walk 20 minutes a day, the rest of the day, they're very sedentary. So Leslie just described how she learned to move more throughout the day. And that's so important for long-term health. And then she described, and this is exciting to me when you lose five pounds of body fat and gain five pounds of muscle, the effects it has on just your muscle mass, your mitochondria health within your muscle and your bone density. It's just paramount for your health and bone density is one thing that's associated with some of the side effects of some of the medications, because it kind of puts you guys into menopause, which is, if you're premenopausal, it can affect osteoporosis. And so I know some of the participants talked about that and so gaining muscle mass, your bones are as strong as the muscle on top of the bones. So if your muscles have atrophied and you don't exercise them, it just promotes and accelerates osteoporosis. So Leslie might've lost body fat and gained muscle, but her bones loved it and they became stronger. And that's so important. It's important, not just for breast cancer survivors, but just think as you get older fall prevention and so good job, Leslie.

Narrator (15:59): Coming up next on Cancer Chat, Leslie dives into her cancer journey and its life altering impacts and the MUSC fit survivor experience.

Leslie DeMark (16:09): I didn't want to be made like I was sick, you know, the way people look at you and I didn't want that. And you don't get that at the group. They don't treat you like that. They treat you just like they would treat anybody else and push you and encourage you to do your best and then do a little more.

Narrator (16:34): And now back to Cancer Chat.

Dawn Brazell (16:37): And Leslie, forgive me for my next question, but if you don't mind sharing your age and a little bit about your cancer journey, where you were in that when you joined the Survivors' Fit Club.

Leslie DeMark (16:50): I just turned 60 in December. Thank you for bringing that up. I was diagnosed in January of 2020, so my 2020 started out super. I started my first chemotherapy treatment, January 27th, once they told me and Dr. Giordano got my program set up, it was two or three weeks before I had my first treatment. And then I went every three weeks for six treatments and I was very lucky that I didn't have the side effects. But they do have a pill or a cream for anything. You can get, I mean, the normal, you know, you lose your hair or whatever. But I got some sores in my mouth. They give you a mouthwash immediately and the next day it's gone, but I was lucky with the nausea and all that. I didn't, I didn't have any of that, which was really good.

Dawn Brazell (18:13): What did your treatment involve? I mean, did you have surgery?

Leslie DeMark (18:17): Well, first I did the chemotherapy and by then, after that they couldn't see any tumors or anything, which was their goal. And then I had a double mastectomy. That's what I opted for. And that was a vanity reason. So when I have my reconstructive surgery, everything will be the same symmetrical. And I had my surgery in June and then I started radiation after that. And I went five days a week for five weeks. And that ended September. And then I started the fitness group in November. So, and I didn't realize at the time what I really needed because I, when I was diagnosed, I didn't tell anybody. I told my immediate family and that was it. And I don't know, talking about it, I guess, makes it real. Or maybe I was just in denial, but that was a whole separate little compartment.

Leslie DeMark (19:41): And just tell me what I have to do, where I need to be, and I'll, I'll do it. I didn't want all the details, but after joining the group and talking about it, it is freeing and you do, I did feel better. And nobody in the group, like I said, I didn't want to be made like I was sick. You know, the way people look at you and I didn't want that. And you don't get that at the group. They don't treat you like that. They treat you just like they would treat anybody else and push you and encourage you to do your best and then do a little more. And I needed that. I definitely needed that. And I was, I was happier and able to deal with whatever came next, easier and not knowing, not knowing is definitely the worst part of it. So being with all these other ladies at different stages in their treatments, you can almost expect like what's going to be next and it makes it easier. And I still am in touch with the girls and we are looking forward to doing this again.

Janis Newton (21:25): And Leslie, you will do it again because we are going to be starting again very soon. So we are gathering a few more participants and then we're going to do something we've not done before, which is have you guys come back as mentors and you will be with the group. You know, when you, I remember your first night and others had said similar things about either not wanting to tell anybody or they were so strong during the treatment, but once it was over, it was like there, it was almost like a little post depression that they were going through. And so what we witnessed was one of the most beautiful things about the program. You know, we're really good at telling you about physical activity and nutrition, and we're really good at lifestyle change and self-growth, but what we saw with the participants of this program was so beautiful because the self-growth was based on just a joy that was missing from your life and a lift from some anxiety and depression.

Janis Newton (22:42): And self-efficacy knowing that you've got the power to change your health, because when you're diagnosed with something like breast cancer, you have some of the power taken away from your life. And so that's a very scary feeling. And this program we could see was so powerful because it gave people back self-efficacy and the power they have to change their health through just making a few different decisions about how they handle sleep, how they handle stress, how they make a few changes in nutrition and physical activity and how it feels, how good that feels and the support from others.

Dawn Brazell (23:35): A lot of dramatic changes. Leslie, I wanted to ask you, how did it impact you when you got your cancer diagnosis? How did it change your life?

Leslie DeMark (23:46): Oh, it changed quite a few things. When I was first diagnosed, I didn't really believe it. I figured the doctor was wrong. That couldn't be right, because this can't be happening. You know, I just, I'm getting my life in order. And I had a great job at the time and I was looking for a house and, you know, I had a big birthday coming up and everything just stopped. All of that stopped. So I did eventually stop working and I didn't buy the house and I didn't know where to go. I didn't know what to do. I figured I'll just, you know, do my treatments and just try to get, you know, back on my feet. And like Janis was saying with this nutrition and the exercise besides emotionally the nutrition, you know, you want to build your immune system because it might, you know, with the chemotherapy you're not immune to anything.

Leslie DeMark (25:04): And I did get sick after my first treatment, which I didn't expect because my immune system was, you know, down to nothing, which they do take care of that as well. They put a patch on after every treatment, which helps. And the dietary changes, you know, I figured this will literally be the rest of my life, that I'm not going to be able to do whatever I want to do. I'm not going to be able to eat what I want to eat. I gotta be on some diet now and can't enjoy, you know, can't have desserts or, you know, you can't have a few drinks with dinner and that's not really the case. You know, the dietary changes. I did fight with Ms. Janis, quite a bit about my Oreos. And by the time we were done, I didn't crave them anymore. I didn't miss it anymore. You know, I will have a little piece of cheesecake here and there, but I have changed to a much better diet and I feel better. You know, I physically feel better. I want to do more things. And then I know this sounds weird, but you actually start to crave that kale salad, salad, and you know, the food, the broccoli, the little broccoli bites, that's your snack instead of a handful of cookies.

Leslie DeMark (26:54): So it's not, it's not a terrible change and it's manageable. And I actually enjoy cooking more than I ever did. I was never much of a, I ate because I, you know, you have to, but I actually enjoy it a little more now. I like trying the new recipes and trying foods that normally I never would have done. And it's, it was, it's not so bad. And exercising makes me want to do more things. I don't feel beat up when I get up in the morning, you know, wake up and you got to stretch for 10 minutes because everything's cracking and hurts. And now it's not like that. And we did yoga. So the yoga helps calm my mind because I didn't sleep well. My mind was always going about nothing. And that does help. I did sleep much better and felt better when I got up.

Dawn Brazell (28:04): Janis, you have to tell me, what's the secret sauce when you're, if you're getting people to crave kale salad. I mean, what's up with that?

Janis Newton (28:09): Isn't that the weirdest thing? Yes. People don't believe it that that's going to happen. But again, like I mentioned before, your brain craves it, and you kind of create this new neural pathway, where again, it's easier to grab the carrots or the broccoli than it is the cookies. People don't believe it, but your taste buds start really loving it. And it's not that you never want some you know, a piece of cheesecake or an Oreo, but you learn usually what feels good. Your brain is a very pleasure seeking organ and you want to do it again. And the more you do it, then it becomes easier to do that than not to, and it's the same as exercise habits or anything.

Janis Newton (29:08): And you slowly put it together because when you look at nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress, moving more throughout the day, meditation, some things you're more ready to change than others. So we don't try to get everybody to change everything all at once. They get to pick and choose what they feel would be most impactful to them. And they work on that. And we talk about each part of it, and then they have the tools to be able to do it. The physical activity again, is a big brain boost that helps decision making and a lot of it is decision making skills, and we know physical activity is very important and impactful on your decision making skills. Leslie mentioned yoga. We also have yoga breathing, so they learn how to breathe, relax, reduce anxiety. And sometimes if you wake up in the middle of the night and you practice some of that breathing, it puts you right back to sleep.

Janis Newton (30:21): So many participants have talked about using that to improve their sleep. So they surprise themselves with the tools they have and which ones work best for them. But we, we also talk about that space in between. Victor Frankel has this great, great quote, but, you know, there's a space in between a stimulus and a response. And so you've got that space in that time to make your right decision, your right response, that's where your power lies. And so they learn to use that space. Like if you have a trigger, like, Oh, I want an Oreo. So we got this space before we actually decide to walk to the kitchen and get them. So you've got that time to use your power and your courage, all of this takes so much courage. And once you do that and you love it and you acknowledge how good that was, it makes it much easier to repeat it. But that's another thing I want to point out about this whole group and all of these participants, the core courage it takes is impressive.

Dawn Brazell (31:38): Absolutely. And I have to ask, cause I hear there are no taboo topics in Survivors' Fit Club. Is that true?

Leslie DeMark (31:44): That is true. Yes. We did talk about everything and surprisingly, you think you're the only one that feels this way, but you're not. And it is somewhat comforting to know that you're not the only one feeling this way, you know, whether it's between you and your spouse, or, you know, other family members, you know, getting back to like the diet changing, the diet affected my whole family. It affected, you know, because I'm cooking for me and you're going to have to eat what I'm eating. And they of course laughed like I did when Janis said, you're not going to crave the Oreos anymore. It really is true. And now they, they all are eating better and admitted that they feel better. My daughter doesn't grab a bag of chips. She'll grab a head of cauliflower. She does dip it in ranch, but she's still eating the cauliflower.

Leslie DeMark (32:58): My son started exercising as well, while I was going through all this. He had the pleasure of being with me all the time because of COVID. So he really had to put up with a lot. And every three weeks when I went for my treatments and got weighed, he got weighed as well. So for the 30 pounds I lost, he gained and that's from mostly eating better and exercising. So it really, it is true when the doctor tells you exercise and eat right. And it really turns out to be a very easy thing to do. And we had, we had a lot of support and the nutrition girls that we had, they were students, I believe at MUSC.

Janis Newton (33:57): Yes, they were dietetic interns.

Leslie DeMark (34:00): And they were amazing. And they were there anytime you texted them or called them, they had answers. They're sending you recipes and they were supportive and encouraging, you know, so anywhere you turned, there was somebody there to answer a question very quickly.

Janis Newton (34:23): You know, the professional collaboration in this program, I think is probably, I can't imagine any other program in the country has a professional collaboration because we do use dietetic interns. They're bright, they're brilliant. Our dietetic internship at MUSC is very hard to get into. We have the cream of the crop, and each of these participants were assigned one dietetic intern who did this program with them. And then of course they have a head nutritionist, Judith Heron. And then when you were talking about no subject is taboo. The night we had nurse Jen from Hollings Cancer Center and she is spectacular and she covers topics that she knows they want to talk about, but they might not bring up. And boy, she brings them up, they hash it over and it's everything and things that, you know, you're maybe not going to talk to your actual physician about and you know, nurse practitioner and, you know, just all of the collaboration that MUSC puts together for the health and the future health of their patients with programs like this is really commendable. And it's an honor for me to be part of it.

Leslie DeMark (35:43): And actually nurse Jen had breast cancer 10 years ago. So she was speaking from actual experience. And yeah, she did talk about everything.

Narrator (35:58): In our final segment, Janis Newton breaks down the link between obesity, nutrition, and cancer survivorship, and the future of the fit survivor program.

Janis Newton (36:07): A statement that you made reminds me of a quote that I like, and it talks about hope and you described hope in the present and hope in the present gives you power in your future. And to me, what you're saying is I have hope now, and I'm going to be powerful in my future.

Dawn Brazell (36:26): It's great to have a confidant group like that, I'm sure. Janis, I know for cancer patients, nutrition is more important than ever. Can you speak to that? As far as the obesity, estrogen, those impacts.

Janis Newton (36:41): Nutrition is extremely important because, you know, it affects you on such a cellular level. The same as physical activity does, but nutrition and some of the foods that Leslie was talking about, the kale, you know, blueberries, raspberries, things that have color, things that have phytochemicals, they change the health of your cells and they are fighting. They fight, they're very big defense. It's like the US Army inside your body. So they, they fight any invader. And so nutrition is extremely important. It's important to get rid of inflammation and so sugar and things, that's why Leslie feels so much better because she doesn't have the inflammation because she just changed up a little bit of the way she ate. And so that is extremely important. There's many, many studies out there that talk about nutrition and exercise and cancer survivorship, and we know that it lowers the risk of breast cancer, recurrence breast cancer, specific mortality, but not only that just overall mortality, so death from any cause is going to be decreased because you've made improvements with nutrition, you eat vegetables, you eat a plant-based diet.

Janis Newton (38:22): You eat fruits, you have all those phytochemicals that fight inflammation and the studies you know, have been done over and over. And yes, you need to consult your physician before you start an exercise program or any change you make. But Jennifer Harper is the one that wanted this program designed, and it just shows that the physicians at MUSC really want to give more to their patients. And the estrogen, I think you asked a question Dawn about estrogen and again, in premenopausal women, certain medications you know, the estrogen blockers they're associated with menopause with hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, osteoporosis, vaginal dryness. And so, these are things, some of them can be affected by nutrition and exercise especially the osteoporosis and the other, you know, anxiety, depression and of course body image, mood, quality of life, fatigue, just stress and anxiety.

Dawn Brazell (39:50): And, you know, Leslie, I asked you about how cancer changed your life. How did this program, and this bonding that you had with the women and the specialists, how has that changed you?

Leslie DeMark (40:01): It gave me a much more positive outlook and it did make me feel good with the diet. You, you feel better, you know, so you do look better. You know, my skin is so much better than it was, and I'm losing, you know, losing weight and being more fit, you know, that's, that was a positive thing for me. You know, I, I do always like to look my best, which is I know vain, but I do. And it doesn't make it seem that, you know, the rest of my life is going to be drudgery, because it's not. Changing my nutrition was easy. They made it very manageable and very easy. I tried to do it online by myself, and it's overwhelming. You don't know what to believe or what to, you know, who to believe. And these ladies have all the facts and it's, it was easy to do.

Leslie DeMark (41:17): So, you know, it's not going to be hard the rest of my life, what am I going to eat? How am I going to do this? It's I can do it. And that's maybe a baby step, but it makes me feel good about myself, you know? And I guess being, you know, being older is kind of, I mean, that's a drag anyway, but you know, being older, it's just another thing you gotta do. And going through menopause and with the dietary changes, you don't have as many side effects, or they're not as bad as, you know, they could be. And Jen did point out some, you know, things about, you know, intimacy with your spouse and that, yeah, as you can tell, like, it's not something you want to talk about or ask about, and if there's easy answers for it. So it's, you know, it's not that big a deal and you're not the only one that's having to deal with this. And she makes it kind of funny. Cause then we, you know, we did laugh about certain things. So, I think, you know, the rest of my life is going to be fine. You know, I just continue to exercise, which will help with everything. And with my immune system, you know, being stronger, I'll be able to stay healthy, you know, longer. So that's a good thing.

Dawn Brazell (43:13): Where are you in your treatment or are you finished with your treatment?

Leslie DeMark (43:18): Yes, I finished my treatments. I just have to have my reconstructive surgery, but I am looking forward to it because I'm ready.

Janis Newton (43:30): The statement that you made reminds me of a quote that I like, and it talks about hope. And you described hope in the present and hope in the present gives you power in your future. And to me, what you're saying is I have hope now and I'm going to be powerful in my future.

Leslie DeMark (43:54): Exactly. That really sums it up. That's true.

Dawn Brazell (43:59): Janis, plans for the future for this program?

Janis Newton (44:03): Oh, we're so excited. Every time we get ready to offer one, we're just kind of waiting for this pandemic to slow down, which it is thankfully, and then we'll offer another one. We're always looking for new activities, new things to expose these participants to that will bring them joy. But you know, just making sure that each program is innovative and impactful. We change it up. Sometimes we change it up based on the first night after we talk to everybody. Some need more things in some areas than other groups. And so we do have the ability with this program. It's not just a cookie cutter turnkey that everything's the same. We base it on what the personalities and the needs of the participants. But we, you know, we all learned the importance of living in the moment, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and knowing what's really important in life.

Dawn Brazell (45:12): And how do people get more information or enroll?

Janis Newton (45:15): Well, Hollings Cancer Center everybody's enrolled or given a referral through Hollings Cancer Center. And we have flyers that are posted on the website with the number to call for a referral.

Dawn Brazell (45:27): I want to just thank you both so much for sharing your experiences with us. Anything you would like to add that I haven't covered.

Janis Newton (45:33): Yeah. I just thank MUSC for supporting this program and Hollings Cancer Center and the physicians there because they refer our patients left and right to this program. And so we're really grateful for that collaboration and for how innovative the cancer center is, and not just breast cancer, all cancers, but specifically my involvement with this breast cancer program. So thank you Dr. Jennifer Harper, and thank you for all the physicians that care so much about your patients at Hollings Cancer Center.

Dawn Brazell (46:14): And Leslie, if you could tell other breast cancer survivors one thing, what would it be? What's the lesson learned for you?

Leslie DeMark (46:21): Well, for one thing, definitely come to MUSC because they have so many programs and so many wonderful doctors, and don't be afraid to ask, ask anything and ask for help because you're not alone and you shouldn't have to do it alone.

Dawn Brazell (46:41): Thank you both for joining us for MUSC Hollings Cancer Center Cancer Chat. We appreciate your time.


Episode Guests

Janis Newton wears headphones and sits in front of a microphone

Janis Newton

Director, MUSC Wellness Center

Leslie DeMark 

Leslie DeMark

Breast cancer survivor
Survivors' Fit Club participant