Article by Garrett Carroll, Class of 2021
Improving the physical, social and mental well-being of cancer patients well into post-cancer life is crucial for understanding ways to combat the long-term effects of the disease. The Adams State University Kinesiology Department has been doing just that since 2018.
As an Adams State graduate student Danielle P. Smith, Class of 1996 and 2019, spearheaded the research in the spring of 2018. Her master’s thesis focused on the potential benefits of exercise for cancer survivors. The research was also personal. After her sister died of the disease, Smith wanted to help improve the quality of life for patients diagnosed with cancer.
Joseph Kolupke, Ph.D., Adams State emeritus professor of English, and Barbara Kolupke began participating in the study during the fall semester 2018. They had equally positive things to say about the physical activity throughout their time in the program.
“I found the physical activity to be very beneficial to me physically and mentally,” said Barbara Kolupke. She found the group setting important in maintaining a positive outlook. “Exercise in a group of fellow cancer survivors is a reassuring thing. We all had faced similar difficulties, fear and pain, and helped each other on.”
Joseph Kolupke spoke highly of the students and coordinators leading the study. “The leaders of the program and the student aides were spectacular. They monitored our exercise form and our safety, and they took measurements of our heart rate and our effort with a smile.”
Margie Clemmer began participating in the spring of 2019. “I think it is helpful to have a program that gets you started and maintains a regular schedule.”
The importance of the research comes from its vital practical applications. Fighting through a cancer diagnosis and living through its subsequent aftermath is difficult for all friends and family involved. “Living well after a cancer diagnosis is of interest to us all. No one wants to simply survive. Everyone wants to thrive, so the results of this study are crucial to patients and their doctors,” Barbara Kolupke added.
Clemmer believes it is important to have this study in the local region. “There are a lot of cancer survivors in the San Luis Valley that would not have another opportunity like this to exercise and maintain their physical health with helpful supervision.”
The program continued during fall 2019 and spring 2020 through support from the SLV Health Foundation, specifically the annual Larry Holder Memorial Golf Tournament, and the Alamosa Family Recreation Center. In early 2019, the Colorado Cancer Coalition awarded ASU and study co-investigators Tracey L. Robinson, Ph.D., Adams State professor of kinesiology, and Maureen Cooper, M.D., SLV Health oncologist, a two-year grant to continue conducting research on exercise benefits for the physical, mental, and social well-being of cancer survivors.
After a year-long pause due to the pandemic, the research is well underway. The Larry Holder Exercise and Cancer Survivorship program offers cancer survivors the chance to take part in an individualized, progressive exercise and physical activity program conducted in a group setting 3 times a week for 10 weeks. The program also provides Adams State undergraduates and graduate students the opportunity to work with exercise modification and fitness testing as they help guide and support participants.
Cancer affects millions of people every year. The hardships it brings are difficult to overcome. According to Robinson, given the ordeals that stem from the diagnosis and battle, it is important to help people establish a day-to-day physical routine that improves their long- and short-term health. The Adams State Larry Holder Exercise and Cancer Survivorship Study helps cancer survivors improve their well-being and research results can benefit future patients.
The next 10-week session of this important study is scheduled to begin in late January 2022, with informational meetings scheduled earlier that month. The program is offered free of charge to any cancer survivor with any type of cancer, at any time during their treatment or remission. For more information or to register for the spring 2022 program, please contact Dr. Tracey Robinson at 587-7663 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ines Curti at 859-684-3511or email email@example.com.