Wife, Mother, Grandmother and Lung Cancer Survivor
“Cancer rehabilitation got me back into shape so that I can do the things I want to do.”
Cancer Rehabilitation Got Me Back Into Shape
Jeri Hunt of Midland thought her symptoms were caused by allergies, but when her family physician ordered an X-ray it turned out that she had lung cancer. She was diagnosed on Labor Day in 2012, six months later she was back to work and a year later, Hunt was enjoying a family reunion in the Upper Peninsula with her family and her two young granddaughters, 5 and 2.
Jeri didn’t waiver in her steadfast approach to treatment and her desire to return to work. And after surgery to remove a large tumor, chemotherapy, radiation and cancer rehabilitation, Jeri is strong enough to load boxes of supplies and push carts as she stocks the Emergency and Laboratory Departments at MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland.
“I have worked here almost 30 years, and I do a lot of heavy lifting and pushing carts,” Jeri explained. “Cancer rehabilitation got me back into shape so that I can do the things I want to do.”
Jeri said that after surgery she was very tired, and she continued to be tired through chemotherapy and radiation, so when she returned to work in February 2013, she said, “I was zapped.” Her medical oncologist, Syed Hassan, M.D., recommended Survivorship Training and Rehabilitation (STAR®) through the credentialed program at the Medical Center in Midland.
Physical Therapist Jennifer Root, D.P.T., was Jeri’s therapist. She said, “Jeri had come through cancer treatments, but she was quite fatigued and weak in her arms and core. Hunt wanted to return to work, and our main focus was strengthening multiple muscle groups, upper extremity and her core, with overall conditioning.” Root said that Jeri was quite motivated and willing to do whatever was suggested in order to get back to normal.
“I like that STAR empowers patients to take control of their own health and healing,” Root said. “So much of cancer treatment is having things done to them. Therapy enables patients to participate and take control for themselves with a goal of returning to full functioning.”
Jeri’s strength training included light hand weights, workouts using exercise equipment, elastic band strengthening exercises and a home exercise program. This strengthening program usually takes from four to six weeks for patients with cancer. “We gradually increased her endurance and energy levels so that she could withstand a whole day on the job,” Root said.
Jeri credits her husband for keeping her treatment on track with appointments and therapy. And she credits cancer rehabilitation and therapist Root with helping her get stronger. “I would recommend cancer rehabilitation for others. It’s tough to be so physically tired Rehabilitation gets you back into shape so that you can do what you want to. I felt stronger every time I went.”
“Jennifer was wonderful, very compassionate. She bent over backwards to make things better for me and to help me get back to work.”
Now Jeri has positron emission tomography (PET) scans every three months to be sure she is cancer-free and she still does the exercises Root recommended when she gets sore and tired. “I get a lot of exercise at work,” she said.
Those interested in learning more about Survivorship Training and Rehabilitation services in Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, Midland, Roscommon and Saginaw Counties may call (989) 839-3584. Those interested in a cancer specialist associated with MidMichigan Health may call (989) 839-3584.
®The STAR Program is a registered trademark of Oncology Rehab Partners, L.L.C.
Jeri Hunt’s story is just one example of MidMichigan’s advanced technology and expertise for cancer treatment and rehabilitation. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with cancer, ask your doctor for a referral to a MidMichigan surgeon or oncologist, or call the MidMichigan Health Line for a physician referral at (800) 999-3199. Online, visit www.midmichigan.org/cancer or www.midmichigan.org/rehabilitation.