So when she found she couldn’t walk more than a few steps after she had completed her cancer treatment in late 2010, she wondered if she would ever walk “like I used to before”.
“I felt depressed that I could hardly walk on my own,” she said.
Last year, on the recommendation of her doctor she started the seven-week oncology rehabilitation course at St John of God Hospital.
This involved a twice-a-week visit to the hospital, joining others for sessions in the gym with trained physiotherapy and exercise physiology staff.
Once a week, the two-hour session was extended by one hour to include talks by a dietician, psychologist, physiotherapist, exercise physiologist, oncology nurse or occupational therapist.
Topics include pain management, healthy eating and cooking, coping with stress, complimentary therapies and natural medicine, relaxation practical session, energy conservation and coping with fatigue, tai chi and cancer support group information.
“I found I gradually could do more and more exercise and was becoming more like I used to be,” she said.
“The other patients help motivate you, and you know they are going through similar situations.
“I really enjoyed the tai chi and the relaxation sessions, and learning how to cope with stress – there are many great things about this program.”
Oncology nurse specialist Jacque Byrne said the class members are “huge fighters who draw more strength from the support network of staff and other patients/clients”.
“I am so proud of them all. Sue is a real success story.”
Rehabilitation physician Debbie Kesper, who consults with patients in the oncology rehabilitation program, said oncology patients don’t realise how much better exercise can make them feel, following treatment.
“Unless they try it they don’t realise how much more normal they feel,” she said.
Cancer patients can join in the seven week program at any point.
You can find out more from the Oncology Rehabilitation Coordinator Jacque Byrne on 5434 3216 or 0423 829 554.