Taking on cancer at high altitude (sponsored) | SummitDaily.com

Taking on cancer at high altitude (sponsored)

by Aaron H. Bible | Brought to you by St. Anthony's Summit Medical Center

The active lifestyle found in Summit County is irreplaceable for locals and tourists alike for recovery and health during treatment for cancer and other illnesses.

Jette Hogenmiller, PhD, family nurse practitioner and oncology nurse practitioner, councils patients to not let a cancer diagnosis consume their lives — admitting that's easier advice to give than it is to follow. She says we all have to engage with life, and in Summit County that means kayaking, biking, walking, hiking, skiing, snowboarding and more.

"I suggest people continue to engage with what they have always enjoyed. However, talk with your healthcare provider about any safety issues while receiving active therapy. Activity promotes a feeling of well-being and combats depression," she said. "Research says that exercise supports recovery and should not be avoided, though certainly avoid excessive activity that is overly exhausting."

Centura's Dr. Russell Tolley, medical oncology and hematology, agrees. "It is well known that physical activity promotes wound healing, decreases depression and increases our ability to enjoy life. Almost everyone would agree that a key component of an active, enjoyable lifestyle would include physical activity. Therefore, maintaining a reasonably active lifestyle including moderate physical activity would be recommended for any of our patients with cancer.

"However, the one caveat would be to moderate any activity so as not to put one in danger of harm, especially if fatigue or weakness are involved," he cautioned. "Many medicines can enhance sunburn risk, and that would include some medicines used to treat cancer. So, once again, moderation in sun exposure would also be advised for our patient population."

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Are you active?

Vacationing in Summit isn't exactly the same as lounging on a beach somewhere. People come for the natural beauty and long to explore it. This should be possible for everyone on vacation, including those dealing with cancer. Both Tolley and Hogenmiller have some advice for cancer patients wanting to enjoy Summit's active lifestyle:

Keep that blood flowing

Exercise is critical to support wellness and maximize recovery when illness occurs. Exercise gets blood flowing, so cancer therapy medication(s) can get to the cancer cells and then the dead cancer cells can be removed by the body.

Savor that sweet air

Exercise supports our body healing by getting oxygen to our cells that have to deal with some of the side effects of therapy, and exercise promotes more oxygen delivery to cells.

Buddy up

Exercise can help the fatigue experienced with cancer therapy, though we may need a partner, friend, etc. to help push us out to get some exercise.

Soak up some sun (safely)

Sun exposure is very important, in moderation, as our bodies need adequate Vitamin D production that is fostered by sun exposure. Low Vitamin D has been shown to increase the risk for some cancers, and even shown to be important in response to therapy, as we now know Vitamin D is important to immune function.

Looking ahead

The future oncology capabilities of St. Anthony Summit Medical Center will be not only a literal lifesaver for those living in Summit County — but will also become essential for travelers and visitors to continue cancer-related treatment while on vacation.

An infusion center attached to the St. Anthony Summit Medical Center will allow patients in Summit and neighboring counties to remain close to home for the care they need, rather than traveling to Vail or Denver, or ultimately staying home.

"The Specialty Care and Infusion Center aims to solve both of those issues, bringing the kind of care we are used to driving two-plus hours to access right here in Frisco," said Kelly Hall, development officer for the Mountains North Denver Operating Group of Centura Health.

"The new expanded cancer therapy options at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center (SASMC) mean I can go with my family when they vacation and not feel like I am keeping our family from an annual or a planned trip. It means I can hear their laughter as we are enjoying a meal in a slopeside cabin together versus my sitting back home in another state on a Facetime call or us not going because I still have therapy treatments," said Hogenmiller.

"The new options at SASMC mean I can better put cancer on the corner shelf; I can enjoy my family and feel less guilty about the impact of this uninvited disease to those I love. The new treatment center is about putting more choices in the hands of people and families affected by cancer. It is an honor for us to empower families to not put their lives on hold, but rather embrace all Summit County has to offer with experts in the cancer field providing supportive care 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

For the $1.4-million-dollar project, the local community has committed just over $500,000 for the center to date, some of it raised at the 2015 Dancing with the Mountain Stars Gala.

"We are deeply grateful to this community for making this happen for our patients. Construction on the center will begin this summer with a plan to open for business this fall," Hall said.

St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, 340 Peak One Drive, Frisco, (970) 668-3300, http://www.SummitMedicalCenter.org

“The new options at SASMC mean I can better put cancer on the corner shelf.”

— KELLY HALL

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