Posted on March 22, 2014

Cancer Rehabilitation Program Helping Patient Gain Physical and Mental Strength

Ever since she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in late 2011, Kathy Bacon’s life has been a blur of surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy and other medical procedures.

Her strength and stamina were zapped by medications and treatments. At one point, her weight slipped to 86 pounds. Early this year, a therapist suggested she take a look at the Betty Bloomer Ford Cancer Rehabilitation Program at Mary Free Bed.

Kathy, who is 64 and worked as a dog groomer before she got sick, expects to spend about four weeks as an inpatient in the cancer rehabilitation program where she works daily with physical and occupational therapists.

One of her favorite things to do is climb aboard the Lokomat Pro, which is a treadmill equipped with robotic legs that help users regain the ability to walk.

“It makes me feel strong and healthy,” she says with a smile.

But the cancer rehabilitation isn’t just about helping Kathy gain physical strength and relearn self-care skills. She’s also exercising her brain.

“Because she has lesions on her brain, there is a serious disconnect between what the brain says and what the body does,” says her husband, Bruce. “We are working hard to make that connection again.”

He believes that cognitive improvements also will help Kathy make physical gains.

“Her goal is to be somewhat independent again,” says Bruce, who lives in Kentwood. “If she weren’t in this program there would be no hope of me taking care of her at home.”

As for Kathy, her goal at the end of her rehabilitation is to walk independently down the hospital corridor.