Game On Cancer Fuels Healthy Minds and Bodies Through ExCITE Program
Beating cancer sometimes requires more than office visits and treatments—it also helps to foster a healthy mind and body. That’s where Henry Ford Health System’s ExCITE (Exercise and Cancer Integrative Therapy Education) Program comes in.
ExCITE, which is supported in large part through funds raised by Game On Cancer, provides low-cost individualized exercise programs for cancer patients and survivors, including granting access to Henry Ford fitness facilities.
“I really appreciate the support from Game On Cancer for ExCITE,” says program participant Audrey Harvey. “Without it, there’s no way I would be in the shape I am now.”
Ashli Betzer, a clinical exercise physiologist for the ExCITE program at Henry Ford’s William Clay Ford Center for Athletic Medicine, leads participants through exercises designed to help them improve their overall fitness and get them on the path to feeling better. At each biweekly session, Ashli leads the group through exercises on the fitness center’s machines, then heads upstairs for strength training.
“This program is why I came to Henry Ford,” says Ashli. “It’s the best part of my week.”
Patients benefit from the program in a variety of ways, including decreased side effects associated with cancer treatment (such as nausea or hot flashes) and improved mood and energy levels. Participants also increase their fitness levels, including muscular strength, flexibility and endurance.
“Before I started the ExCITE program, I could barely get from the door of the gym to the floor without having to stop and rest,” says Brenda Prince-Taylor. “Now I am on the treadmill. I’m biking six miles. And I feel great.”
ExCITE participants also cultivate healthy mindsets by interacting with fellow participants who are going through the same experiences—experiences that are sometimes unique to those battling cancer. Group members push one to continue their hard work and to stay positive.
“They understand what I’m feeling,” says Karen Slaughter-Duperry. “They’re encouraging. I love the camaraderie.”
ExCITE has given participants Audrey Harvey and Linda Phillips so much strength that they have decided to form their own Game On Cancer team to give back to the program that they say has changed their lives. Their team, HFHS ExCITE, including trainer Ashli Betzer, participated in the 2018 Detroit Free Press Marathon 5K in October 2018. Their goal was to raise support for Game On Cancer to continue to fund supportive oncology programs like ExCITE for more cancer patients in our communities.
“This has absolutely made me stronger,” says Linda. “I want to get back out there and tell people how prevalent cancer is. It’s really important to do what you can to give back.