We’ve had many dynamic and inspirational runners on TeamAICR over the years, but we’ve never had a pair quite like the Big Sur International Marathon duo of cancer survivor Gordon McGill and his trainer, Sam Ditzell. Their enthusiasm, candor, commitment, sense of humor, and above all, their deep friendship, are truly inspiring. They are also May’s Cancer Fighters of the Month.
Sam and Gordon met in 2008 when Sam helped Gordon and his wife train for the New York City Marathon. After completing the marathon, Gordon continued working with Sam in the hopes of training for another race.
However, in 2009 Gordon was diagnosed with bladder cancer and endured multiple rounds of surgery and chemotherapy. Throughout his treatment he continued to train with Sam. “Some days Gordon couldn’t even get out of bed during the chemo, but he still only missed a couple of workouts,” Sam remembers. “More than physical determination, Gordon managed to maintain such a positive, goofy, almost child-like attitude throughout his treatment.” Read more… “Goofy and Inspiring: AICR Cancer Fighters of the Month”
For years, AICR has written about the growing body of evidence showing that the same lifestyle choices found to reduce the risk of developing cancer – a healthy diet, a healthy weight and physical activity –can also help survivors live longer and healthier. Research is still growing but last week, the evidence became even clearer when the American Cancer Society released new guidelines for survivors.
The ACS guidelines advise survivors to exercise, eat healthy, and maintain a healthy weight. The expert panelists who evaluated the evidence concluded that following these recommendations can lower the risk of the cancer recurring and improve the chances of disease-free survival.
The updated guidelines for survivors were published last week in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. You can read the complete guidelines here.
We asked Elisa Bandera, MD, PhD, one of the expert panelists, to help explain the recommendations. Bandera, a nutritional epidemiologist at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, is also a member of the expert panel on AICR’s Continuous Update Project
Q: Can you give a sense of how much research there is on diet, weight, and exercise related to survivorship, and how recent it is? A: Surprisingly, not much research has been done in this area, compared to the literature on nutrition and physical activity and cancer risk. Currently, most of the evidence comes from studies on breast cancer.However, this is an area that is growing exponentially and several ongoing studies are going to be producing more results in the near future.
Today’s issue of Cancer Research Update highlights the latest research in how exercise helps cancer survivors. We asked Mary, an exercise physiologist and AICR consultant, to share her experiences in working with cancer survivors.
I taught a strength training class for cancer survivors for several years. That experience allowed me to see first-hand the incredibly important role exercise plays in the healing process. My class was open to survivors of all ages and ability levels, though most were new to strength training when they started. Over the weeks and months of class, I saw a transformation in every person—both physically and emotionally.