NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A cancer diagnosis can be traumatic both physically and mentally. But research has shown exercise, even something as simple as basic dance movement, can greatly enhance a patients sense of well being, and even help spur recovery.
Inside Gilda’s Club in New York City, there is joy in movement.
The participants here are battling or have survived cancer, and through this “Moving For Life” dance exercise program, they’ve found strength, grace in healing and inspiration to feel better as they learn to move better.
“It was a chance for me to get back in physical shape, to see what I could do,” Inez West told CBS2’s Mary Calvi on Thursday.
West is a breast cancer survivor, and is facing a recurrence of the disease.
“There was the old me that I wasn’t going to be any more, but there was the new me that meant there were still things that I could do things that I could enjoy and have beneficial to my health,” West said.
Ana Leon Bella is also a cancer survivor. She’s a participant here, but after her diagnosis was inspired to become a Moving for Life instructor.
“We usually don’t even necessarily talk about the treatment about the cancer. We move and we dance and we feel good and we laugh,” Bella said. “The focus then became dance as medicine, as healing and movement, as empowering myself in my healing and in my health, and in those that I teach.”
Susan G. Komen of Greater NYC is helping fund the program in locations around the five borough. Caroline Zayas King is the instructor Gilda’s House.
“Each exercise is designed for a specific purpose to combat a specific side effect,” Zayas said.
She encourages everyone to move, but always at their own pace.
“We’re really getting our class attendees to focus on themselves, on their breath, on their inner life, what’s happening in their bodies, so they can take ownership over their health and how they’re feeling,” Zayas said.
And cancer survivor Dianna Campbell said this was movement based medicine that she needed.
“I have built up strength to walk and move and I’m standing here,” Campbell said. “You feel a lot better when you leave because you have made another step in your physical life and also your mental life.”
Instructors’ movements target the many physical challenges cancer survivors face, from neuropathy in their feet, to tightness from surgical scars. For more information on the Moving For Life program, and Susan G. Komen Greater NYC, please click here.