As Yariv Kafri underwent surgery, chemotherapy and targeted radiation for his stage IV non–small cell lung cancer in 2013, the seasoned athlete—who before his illness and treatment could often be found training for a triathlon, playing soccer or doing yoga—lost most of his physical strength. A neighborhood walk with his wife became too difficult.
After finishing chemotherapy in January 2014, Kafri, now 49, of Roslyn, New York, started taking Xalkori (crizotinib) to manage his cancer and slowly began rebuilding his muscle mass and endurance.
“I wanted to be active again because it was such a big part of my life,” says Kafri, the CEO of a technology company.
Kristin Dooley, a cancer exercise trainer certified by the American College of Sports Medicine, offers these tips for building strength.
- Walk laps around the kitchen table. If you feel tired, rest in a nearby chair or use the table for support.
- Chair exercises can help you maintain strength during treatment. While seated, clap your hands above your head or make breast strokes with your arms.
- Household chores and routine tasks, such as grocery shopping or sweeping the floor, can be a workout in and of themselves.
- Join a support group like Supportersize or exercise with family or friends.
Exercise helped him take his mind off cancer and how weak it made him feel. He wanted to share the physical and mental benefits of exercise with others who have been affected by the disease, so in May 2014 he started
Supportersize, an organization that hosts free group fitness events in the New York City area for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers.
Sweat for a Cause
Promote fitness and help cancer patients by participating in, doing fundraising for or volunteering at a cancer-awareness 5K, marathon or triathlon.
Do some yoga, get some fresh air, listen to live music and support breast cancer awareness at Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s Yoga on the Steps July 19 in Kansas City, Missouri, and Sept. 20 in Denver.
Supportersize has offered outdoor yoga classes, hiking and stand-up paddleboarding, along with indoor cycling classes during the winter. So far, about 200 people have taken part in the activities, which are led by volunteer instructors who are cancer survivors or who have a family member with cancer.
Kafri says the activities are not competitive and allow individuals to work at their own level. Participants help each other through motivating workouts as well as the day-to-day challenges of cancer.
“When you’re done, you have all these wonderful people around you who can say they’ve been there, too,” he says. “We’re getting stronger, and we’re doing it together.”
June 26, 2015