Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital
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A caring approach to your journey.

You’re facing a unique set of challenges, but you’re not alone.

We can help you fight the debilitating effects of cancer — before, during and after treatment.

Rehabilitation has been shown to improve recovery and restore quality of life. And at Mary Free Bed, we’d like to help you manage that rehabilitation, providing a path for you to deal with the physical, cognitive and emotional issues associated with this disease.  

We’re here for every step of your journey. We’re here to help you thrive. 

Cancer Patient Graduation

Why Mary Free Bed? 

As the first designated and comprehensive cancer rehabilitation program in West Michigan, Mary Free Bed offers personalized care for patients with all types and stages of cancer.  

We understand that a coordinated effort between the people on your cancer team will help you better tolerate surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, heal faster and recover more quickly. That’s why we’ll collaborate with your doctors to make sure you get the best care. We also have a team of physician consultants available to meet special care needs. 

In 1974, when former First Lady Betty Ford underwent a mastectomy and spoke publicly about it, her openness changed how cancer is talked about and treated. Our program is named the Betty Bloomer Ford Cancer Rehabilitation Program to honor Mrs. Ford (who was raised in Grand Rapids) for her groundbreaking cancer efforts. She and her mother, Hortense Neahr Bloomer, both held leadership positions in the Mary Free Bed Guild that governs our hospital. 

Explore Our Outcomes

Betty Ford, 10/2/1974 - while in hospital for breast cancer
/ Your Experience

The goal is to maximize your independence and quality of life.

Our program provides education, exercise, therapeutic techniques and resources that will help you regain and maintain function, from muscle strength to hand-eye coordination, improved memory and organizational skills.

Dino Baskovic - Cancer, Brain Injury Therapy


The duration and intensity of your therapy will depend on your individual needs and tolerance. Research shows the sooner you begin rehabilitation at an appropriate level of intensity, the better your outcome will be. 

You’ll work with the same specially trained team of physicians, nurses and therapists during your stay. The focus will be on improving your strength, flexibility, balance and more. 

Patients typically do three or more hours of therapy at least five days a week, with recreational therapy activities, rest and visits with family and friends on the weekends. 

Dino Baskovic - Cancer, Brain Injury Therapy


A variety of specialized technology and rehabilitation equipment  is available, including two therapy pools and a ceiling-mounted ambulation system. Dedicated gyms are located on your floor, and you can practice daily living skills in simulated environments, such as an apartment and car. 

Dino Baskovic - Cancer, Brain Injury Therapy


We know the lives of your family and friends also are significantly affected by your cancer. Your loved ones are an integral part of your treatment team. They will receive support and education, so they can be an important part of your recovery. 

We also can connect you with other cancer patients who received rehabilitation with us. They truly understand your situation and often are able to offer helpful insights. Community organizations, such as Gilda’s Club, provide beneficial support programs for patients with all types of cancer and their families. 

/ Meet the Team

Depending on your needs, you may see professionals from many disciplines or just a few:

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    Board-certified rehabilitation physicians, hand-selected for you and your condition(s).

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    Registered nurses with rehabilitation and wound care certification, as well as nurse technicians.

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    Occupational therapists to help you resume independence with daily activities, such as brushing your teeth, getting dressed, doing laundry and grocery shopping.

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    Physical therapists to evaluate your strength, mobility and level of independence, then provide rehabilitation.

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    Psychologists focus on your emotional well-being, which is just as important as your physical condition. 

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    Registered dietitians to evaluate your nutritional needs and monitor your food intake.

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    Speech-language pathologists to help you, if necessary, with eating, swallowing, speaking, breathing and so on.

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    Recreational therapists to help you get back to doing things you enjoy or introduce you to new leisure activities.

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    A care manager who partners with you and your caregivers to help you adjust to your injury and prepare to return home.

/ Outpatient Experience

Mary Free Bed provides a full spectrum of care, including specialized therapy, home and community services and life-long follow-up care.  

We create a path to manage the physical, cognitive and emotional impairments that can come with cancer and its treatments. Our outpatient services are available either after you graduate from our inpatient program or as a new patient to Mary Free Bed. We also offer a home and community program. 

You’ll participate in a thorough evaluation and assessment in a clinic setting. Our cancer rehabilitation team meets weekly to discuss the needs of each patient in the program, which will help your team members stay on top of any changes and adjust your treatment as needed.   

We understand it can be exhausting to attend multiple medical appointments, so we schedule appointments in blocks out of respect for your time and energy. All of your therapies will be scheduled in either morning or afternoon sessions. We also offer you the opportunity to coordinate your therapy appointments with your other medical appointments and personal schedule. 

Dino Baskovic - Cancer, Brain Injury Therapy
/ Services

Our specialty services are designed to enhance and enrich your life. Your treatment team will work with you to coordinate the services and programs that will best serve you. Here are just some of the services we offer:

/ FAQs

Below are questions we often hear from patients with cancer and their families. Talk with your treatment team about specific questions or concerns. 

What types of patients benefit from cancer rehabilitation?

We help patients recovering from all types of cancer, including:

  • Breast
  • Lung
  • Prostate and other genitourinary cancers, such as testicular cancer and bladder cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Colorectal and other gastrointestinal cancers, such as gallbladder cancer, pancreatic cancer, esophageal cancer, stomach cancer and liver cancer
  • Bone
  • Gynecologic, such as cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine/endometrial cancer, vaginal cancer and vulvar cancer
  • Leukemia and lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Kidney
  • Head and neck
  • Melanoma
  • Pediatric
  • Eye

What does cancer rehabilitation involve?

Here are the types of cancer rehabilitation we offer: 

  • Prevention Oncology Rehabilitation (Prehabilitation) 
    When a disability can be predicted, preventive rehabilitation may be prescribed. For example, occupational therapists and physical therapists optimize arm strength, range of motion and cardiovascular conditioning prior to breast cancer surgery. 
  • Restorative Rehabilitation
    If your impairment isn’t expected to be permanent, rehabilitation can restore you to your former level of functioning. For example, physical therapists help you regain strength and muscle mass. 
  • Supportive Rehabilitation
    When your cancer treatment does cause a permanent impairment, we can help you get back as much function as possible. For example, we may recommend orthotics or prosthetics after surgical amputations. Physical and occupational therapy also helps with muscle strengthening, gait training and self-care. Care managers and neuropsychologists also may be involved in supportive rehabilitation. 
  • Palliative Rehabilitation
    Palliative rehabilitation provides supportive care and reduces complications that may develop as cancer progresses. Occupational and physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, dietitians and others may work with patients to help with mobility and positioning, swallowing, muscle mobility, eating and self-care. 

What side effects do you treat?

Sometimes it’s difficult to know what’s more challenging— the side effects of cancer or the treatments used to fight it.  

We help patients cope with a wide range of challenges, including: 

  • “Chemobrain” or “chemofog,” which can leave you feeling forgetful, make it difficult to concentrate and generally cause you to feel out-of-sorts or unable to multitask 
  • Decreased strength or range of motion 
  • Fatigue 
  • Generalized weakness/deconditioning 
  • Pain 
  • Numbness, tingling or pain in your hands and feet 

Other problems that might be addressed during your rehabilitation include: 

  • Bowel and bladder management 
  • Difficulty with walking and higher-level balance 
  • Lymphedema 
  • Mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression 
  • Nutritional/weight issues 
  • Pelvic floor problems 
  • Psychosocial distress 
  • Sleep/wake disturbances 
  • Swallowing problems 
  • Vocational challenges 

Talk to your cancer rehabilitation team about any special concerns you have or problems you’d like to address. 

Still have questions? Feel free to contact us.

The next step on your path to recovery.

Need Rehabilitation? Ask for Mary.
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