ACCESS Wellness: Supporting Active Lifestyles for Cancer Patients and Survivors

A three-time cancer survivor and a Professor with the School of Health and Human Performance, Faculty of Health at Dalhousie University, Dr. Melanie Keats has lived experiences of the positive impact of physical activity and exercise on her recovery and overall health.

“Physical activity and exercise have given me the ability to be an active participant in my own health care and well-being,” she said. “While I continue to experience long-term effects of the disease and its treatment, being active helps me cope better mentally and physically.” This first-hand knowledge and a passion to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients and survivors is the driving force behind Melanie’s latest research project, Activating Cancer Communities through an Exercise Strategy or ACCESS, which began in September 2018. Already 24 participants have registered and have begun their program.

“There is irrefutable evidence that exercise has benefits throughout the cancer journey,” said Dr. Scott Grandy, co-investigator on the project and Associate Professor at the School of Health and Human Performance, Dalhousie University. “Despite this, exercise is still not a routine part of cancer treatment and care. ACCESS will help us translate the exercise evidence into care to ensure exercise becomes part of the treatment for all cancer patients and survivors.”

Participants must be over the age of 18 and have a referral from their doctor. Those who register for the 12-week program receive an individually-tailored exercise plan, which is monitored by a Physiologist and modified during every exercise session, based on how the participant feels on that day. “When appropriately prescribed and monitored, physical activity and exercise can be beneficial and safe for all cancer patients and survivors,” said Melanie.

ACCESS is open to current QEII cancer patients and survivors (anyone who has completed cancer treatment in the last five years or those who continue to suffer from any lasting effects of treatment). The hope is to expand to other parts of the province as funding becomes available. For more information about ACCESS, please email or phone 902-473-2035.

Special thanks to the contributions of funding and community partners:
QEII Foundation
Ultramar – Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation Grant
Canadian Centre for Applied Research in Cancer Control (ARC)
Robert Pope Foundation
Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute
Canada Games Centre in Halifax
Rath Eastlink Community Centre, Truro
QEII Cancer Care Program staff