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Virginia Tech Research: Rural Endometrial Cancer Survivors

Keep Moving, Together: Lessons from two years of participatory research for rural endometrial cancer survivors

Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer. Survival rates for endometrial cancer—with early detection and treatment options—are high. In fact, there are almost one million endometrial cancer survivors in the United States alone. Endometrial cancer survivors often experience stressors after treatment such as poor sleep quality, fatigue, lower emotional well-being, and difficulties reengaging in sex—which lead to a lower perceived quality of life. Over the last two years, gynecologic oncologist, Dr. Shannon Armbruster, and behavioral psychologist and 500 hour registered yoga teacher, Dr. Samantha Harden, have led a series of studies to match endometrial cancer survivor intervention needs and program access.

Overall, they found that endometrial cancer survivors are more interested in healthy lifestyle intervention and social support – more than a “weight loss” intervention. In addition, survivors prefer light intensity exercises such as walking and yoga. Programs focusing on each form of activity were compared, with results showing participants enjoyed both forms of physical activity. What’s next is the potential mind-body impacts that a yoga practice may have—such as loving kindness, self-compassion—that may be just as (or more!) powerful than general forms of exercise.

Notably, all programming is offered virtually and a large part of their intervention is self-paced. This is because, regardless of cancer type, people living in rural areas often have access issues to finding tailored or evidence-based practices for health and wellbeing. Therefore, virtual, self-paced programs provide an exciting way to bridge physical activity programs to people in rural areas.

The main takeaways: All people need support on their health and wellness journeys. This support can come from people in your life (family, friends, coworkers), but can also come from fitness spaces or coaches or other facilitators. A yoga class is perfect for these interactions. In the United States, 5% of people are cancer survivors. So, if you’re a yoga teacher, chances are you interact with cancer survivors or someone who loves someone who had or has cancer.

Through language and intentionality, we can reflect our value of inclusive practices, our shared humanity, and support for each other… in this way, we can all benefit.

Apply to become a Christina Phipps Foundation Oncology Yoga Teacher. Training in Virginia Oct. 22 and 23.

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