New cancer research program aims to return patients to ‘normalcy’

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Cancer survivors looking to return to a normal lifestyle after treatment can get wellness advice and free use of gym facilities under a new research program being rolled out by the Indiana University School of Medicine and IUPUI.

The Indiana Cancer Wellness Center recently opened at the Indianapolis Healthplex, 3660 Guion Road, a popular health and fitness facility on the west side.

The healthplex, once owned by Community Health Network, is now owned by the Saturday Evening Post Society. It contains two swimming pools, indoor tennis courts, weight rooms, indoor walking and running tracks, basketball courts, cardio equipment, sauna, steam room and whirlpools.

Those facilities are available to cancer survivors who agree to work with IU researchers who are studying the best ways to help people dealing with cancer return to active lives.

“We’re doing an amazing job at curing a lot of people with cancer,” Dr. Jamie Renbarger, a pediatric oncologist and professor at the IU School of Medicine, said in a statement. “Now we need to figure out better ways to help them get completely back to normalcy, or life after treatment.”

The research team started working with cancer survivors at the wellness center in June. Trainers and researchers work with patients and are looking at best practices in nutrition, exercise and other forms of wellness to keep patients healthy.

Some patients, for example, suffer from weakness, numbness, and pain from nerve damage, usually in the hands and feet, after going through chemotherapy. That can affect their ability to exercise and stay active, leading to obesity and cardiovascular disease.

To overcome that, trainers and researchers meet with cancer survivors for a personalized treatment program to help them stay active.

The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute is helping researchers develop a database from across the state to compile information to guide cancer survivors.

The new wellness center also is in the process of building a dedicated space for the program on the third floor of the healthplex, with a lobby, exercise area and research rooms. Survivors can also use the entire healthplex during participation in the research program.

The research studies are designed to run for several years.

For more information on the program, call Dani Halsey at 317-948-7186 or send an email to Patients don’t need to be patients of the IU Health system to participate at the wellness center.

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