Q&A with Lori Powell

Cancer Wellfit™ exists to remind cancer survivors of the vibrancy of life experienced through the gift of exercise and activity. This program between the Tri-City Court Club and the Tri-Cities Cancer Center started ten years ago and has become a labor of love and passion for the instructor, Lori Powell, who has been with it from the beginning. Past family experiences with cancer, coupled with special training for this program, allows Lori to connect with each participant on a unique level. We caught up with her at a local coffee shop to learn more about Cancer WellFit™.

Q: What is the biggest concern of potential participants in WellFit™?
A: Apprehension for what to expect. Many of our participants have never been in a gym and many have less energy or stamina than they had before treatment so they are concerned that they won’t be able to do many of the activities or do the exercises. As we progress through the program they learn that it’s more than just an exercise class. We’re a very social group so it’s a terrific way to get back into life and the thrill of activity!

Q: What do you know about your students before they start?
A: Very little, except that each of them is a fighter and has refused to quit! I learn a lot more about them in that first week! I make a point during orientation to make friends, make each feel welcome, comfortable and to knock down the walls of apprehension. I ask about their cancer, their perceived limitations and special concerns they may have. Their concerns become my concerns. After our first class, I review their medical history to learn about restrictions prescribed by their medical team. I work with each person to customize a program that both challenges them yet follows the requirements set by their medical team. The thrill of rediscovering vitality and vigor warms the hearts of all involved. Especially mine.

Q: What’s the age range your students? Any stories here?
A: My youngest student to date was a 17 year old high school basketball player who had leukemia but also had what I call a ‘kick butt’ spirit. This young woman really wanted to get back on the court and worked her tail off to do so. I think my oldest was over 80 years ‘young’ and just wonderful to work with. He had a great sense of humor, and completed the entire program. Of course, I’ve had participants of every age and all have been a huge source of inspiration for me.

Q: Have you had students in wheelchairs, or persons who need some other piece of medical equipment?
A: We’ve had a number of people with wheelchairs, canes, oxygen, walkers etc. The Court Club is fully ADA accessible, so we can accommodate anyone with special needs. One person came to the program in a wheelchair but by the fifth week, was able to upgrade to a walker and by the end of the program was 100% on his feet! Of course, not all of our people are able to make that big of a leap, but our goal is to improve their quality of life so they can “live” instead of “survive”.

Q: What are the requirements for participation?
A: They must have completed treatment within the last six months and they must have a doctor’s authorization.

Q: Any final thoughts?
A: We give participants the hope of a renewed life and help them in the fight that brought them through treatment.

The next WellFit™ program starts on January 9th. Interested participants or medical providers can learn more by contacting Connie at the Tri-Cities Cancer
Center at (509) 737-3420 or going to tccancer.org/wellfit_program

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