Spotlight: Cancer Wellness at Medcan

Can I better manage the side effects of my cancer treatment?

First the good news: more Canadians are living longer after cancer diagnosis and treatment. Over the years, cancer mortality rates in the country have been on the decline, and this is due in part to increased awareness for prevention, better early detection methods, and more effective treatments.

The challenge is, how to maintain a good quality life throughout the journey from diagnosis to survivorship. Chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, and difficulties performing activities of daily living are just a few of the potential side effects from cancer and its treatment. Add to that the increased risk of developing secondary chronic health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Without the right support, the physical and mental impact of cancer can be a heavy one.

Long (long long) ago, the belief among health-care providers was for patients to “rest up” and “take it easy” when dealing with the effects of cancer management. Fast forward to 2018, and there is now an abundance of scientific literature that begs to differ, supporting exercise — before, during and after treatment — as a safe and effective therapeutic approach in managing many of the adverse effects. In fact, exercise is encouraged to be included in every individual’s cancer care plan. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has published exercise guidelines for cancer survivors, recommending 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise weekly. The next step is to clinically integrate support programs and educate patients on the impact exercise can have on their cancer journey. That’s where our program comes in.

Cancer Wellness at Medcan bridges the gap between the evidence and providing those benefits to those who need it. The Cancer Wellness & Survivorship (CWS) program is a proactive approach to helping individuals to live healthier before, during and after cancer.

Program Objectives

  • Preserve and enhance quality of life throughout cancer management
  • Educate and prepare in coping with cancer treatment
  • Promote and integrate exercise into the cancer management standard of care
  • Provide accessibility to cancer wellness support

 Program Details

  1. Entering the program. Individuals can be physician or self-referred.
  2. Before starting the program. An initial consultation and comprehensive physical fitness and quality of life assessment is completed by a regulated health professional (i.e. a Registered Kinesiologist). This is followed by a review and recommendations appointment by phone within 3-5 business days of the initial visit.
  3. Starting the program. The individual will participate in guided exercise therapy 2-3 times per week with a Registered Kinesiologist. Results from the comprehensive intake will guide the individualized exercise therapy prescription. Comprehensive re-evaluations will be completed every six weeks.

Who is this program for?

Adult women and men diagnosed with any cancer (before, during, or after treatment) and falling within an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status of 0 – 2:

  • (0) = Fully active, able to carry on all pre-disease performance without restriction.
  • (1) = Restricted in physically strenuous activity but ambulatory and able to carry out work of a light or sedentary nature, e.g., light house work, office work.
  • (2) = Ambulatory and capable of all self-care but unable to carry out any work activities. Up and about more than 50% of waking hours.

What are ideal outcomes for people in your program?

  • Before treatment: Prepare the body and mind to better withstand treatment.
  • During treatment: Reduce the negative physical and mental impact of cancer management.
  • After treatment: Recover quicker physically and mentally to minimize interruptions to work and life.

How do interested people get enrolled?

Please contact our Sports Therapy & Rehabilitation team program coordinator by phone 416.642.7729 or by email

William Hilton M.Sc., Registered Kinesiologist and Cancer Exercise Specialist at Medcan

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