Breast cancer survivor achieves weight loss and fitness goals with new program at Lynn Cancer Institute

Cheryl Jarvis, 58, battled a diagnosis of ‘bilateral ductal carcinoma in situ’ (DCIS) breast cancer – invasive on one side. And then she had a double mastectomy, followed by intensive radiation therapy. Yet there was another vital challenge to overcome: losing excess weight and getting in shape to stay strong while she survived.

A program offered by the Oncology Support Services team at Lynn Cancer Institute, part of Boca Raton Regional Hospital, aptly named Lite to Fight, has given her the opportunity to live an even healthier and more thin after cancer treatment.

Cancer survivor Cheryl Jarvis.

She started her journey to a healthy lifestyle over six months ago by signing up for Lite to Fight. Ms. Jarvis, a professor at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business in Boca Raton, has lost nearly 50 pounds throughout her weight loss journey. She is down to 152 pounds and a normal BMI (body mass index). The program offers strategic advice on calorie intake, regular exercise, balancing healthy meals, and behavior modification.

“Surviving cancer is a battle and it’s not over just because you’re in active treatment,” says Ms. Jarvis. “We have to keep fighting. It was something I could control when everything else seemed out of control.

“She is so dedicated”

Lite to Fight recruited 35 breast cancer survivors and over 85% lost weight. Ms Jarvis lost about 15 pounds over the 10 weeks of the program, which is ideal because losing too much weight in a short time can increase inflammation in the body, says Brandi Hyatt, senior clinical oncology dietitian, who directs the Lite to Combat Team.

“She’s so dedicated.” said Ms. Hyatt, referring to Cheryl Jarvis.

At Lynn Cancer Institute, cancer support services are an integral part of overall cancer treatment, offering a range of support groups and wellness programs. Lite to Fight was launched a year ago with the goal of helping overweight or obese breast cancer survivors achieve a healthy body weight and incorporate oncology exercise recommendations into their survivorship routine.

“Lite to Fight is an example of how we can improve the lives of breast cancer survivors by fighting weight issues that for many were a problem even before their cancer diagnosis,” says Darci McNally, LCSW, director of oncology support services at Lynn Cancer Institute, part of Baptist Health.

For many breast cancer survivors like Ms. Jarvis, weight management is a post-treatment issue that can be complicated by the use of aromatase (AI) inhibitors, a drug that lowers estrogen levels. in the body by blocking aromatase, an enzyme that converts other hormones. into estrogen and help prevent cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow. Survivors who include AIs in their regimen may experience side effects, including a higher risk of bone fractures, osteoporosis, and slowed metabolism that can lead to weight gain.

Post-treatment drug-fighting effects

One day, while in the waiting room of her radiation oncologist’s office, Ms. Jarvis read a pamphlet about the “Lite to Fight” program for cancer survivors, and she didn’t hesitate. to register.

“(Aromatase inhibitors) can cause a lot of joint problems and movement helps with that,” says Ms. Jarvis. “But they also tend to cause osteoporosis. So strength training and building bone is really important in trying to stave off that osteoporosis. That’s been my other big motivation – staying on top of weight and exercising to trying to offset some of these aromatase inhibitor side effects so that I can manage to stay on it for the next 10 years.

She would begin brisk walking regularly, methodically keeping track of steps taken and calories consumed. Smartphone apps and daily journals help her track her progress.
The “team approach” to oncology support services is critical to its success, says Jarvis.

Ms Hyatt, who oversees Lite to Fight, said the program uses a key tool, an indirect calorimeter, a handheld device through which a patient breathes. It quickly measures your resting metabolic rate (RMR). The results help healthcare providers better estimate a patient’s caloric needs for effective medical nutrition therapy and weight management.

“It’s been a key tool in our program,” Ms. Hyatt said. “It helps us more accurately determine the resting metabolic rate of our patients. And therefore provide our patients with a more accurate daily calorie prediction for weight loss.

The Lite to Fight program will resume early next year after a full outcome evaluation and continued follow-up of enrolled patients.

“We found it really difficult to help breast cancer survivors lose weight,” says Hyatt. “Sometimes they arrive already overweight, and then the cancer treatment can contribute to the weight gain.”

One-stop-shop for cancer survivors

It turned out that Ms. Jarvis’s faculty and research background was very helpful in her participation in Lite to Fight. “As a scientist, myself, and a researcher, having this contribute to Brandi’s (Ms. Hyatt) research has really motivated me to be very honest, to follow things very well, and to give her good data,” she said. she declared. “It really motivated me to stick with it…as another researcher who was important to me.”

Ms. Jarvis speaks very well of the Lynn Cancer Institute’s team approach to oncology support services.

“The resources available and the team approach are exceptional,” she said. “It’s in contrast to what a lot of women I see struggling online who are trying to put all the components together – a radiation oncologist here and a surgeon there – but they’re not talking to each other. They want to know what they’re doing. do this or that, and who do I see? This program is kind of a one-stop-shop system. It’s really, really powerful.”

Tags: Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Lynn Cancer Institute, rehabilitation oncology

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