Support to breast cancer survivors

Pink women cut-outs raise awareness of breast cancer and the importance of breast screening.
Pink women cut-outs raise awareness of breast cancer and the importance of breast screening. Claudia Baxter

CLARENCE Valley women recovering from breast cancer surgery are being encouraged to register now for the new term of the 2012 YWCA NSW Encore Program.

The program, funded by NSW Health, is described as an innovative and inspiring approach to recovery from breast cancer surgery.

It is a proven exercise program offered free in Grafton by YWCA NSW.

Encore program co-ordinator Kate Guthrey said the program involved gentle exercise for those who had breast cancer surgery, and it met the physical needs and supported the well-being of women after the trauma of surgery in a nurturing and supportive environment.

"It can help whether your surgery was a few months ago or 20 years ago," she said.

A new study published in December 2011 in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship by University of Missouri's Sinclair School of Nursing researchers highlighted the benefits of exercise for women who have experienced breast cancer, including those who develop lymphedema, swelling that commonly occurs after breast cancer treatment.

Lymphoedema can occur any time after cancer treatment and is usually caused by the removal or radiation of lymph nodes as part of the treatment process.

"The Encore Program was created to improve movement, flexibility and strength after breast cancer surgery. It helps to reduce the potential risk of lymphedema and can assist in the management of lymphedema," Ms Guthrey said.

The Incidence of Breast Cancer in Australia, published by the Federal Government's Cancer Australia in June 2011, showed the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia increased from 5291 in 1982 to 12,567 in 2007, but NSW had one of the lower incidence rates, with ACT being the highest and Northern Territory the lowest.

The YWCA Encore Program starts in Grafton on February 16 and will run for eight weeks until April 5, each Thursday from 1pm to 3pm.

"Because medical clearance is required, it's important to register as soon as possible in order to secure a place, at least two weeks prior to the class beginning because the classes are small and intimate, so places fill up quickly," Ms Guthrey said.

Register by calling 9285 6264 or 1800 305 150.

The program incorporates gentle floor and hydrotherapy exercises and is an opportunity for relaxation and information sharing.

Exercise programs for most people who have experienced cancer can reduce anxiety and depression, improve mood, boost self-esteem and reduce symptoms of fatigue.

Topics:  breast cancer support surgery

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