Cancer Survivors Benefit from Sylvester’s ‘Believe in You’ Program

3 min read  |  January 02, 2024  | 

Iliana Suarez beat breast cancer but worried about staying healthy.

“What’s my next step and what am I going to do and what’s going to happen to me?” asked Iliana.

Lifestyle Medicine Leads to Better Outcomes for Patients

Dr. Tracy Crane, Ph.D., Director of Lifestyle Medicine, Prevention, and Digital Health at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, says lifestyle medicine can play a critical role in preventing new or recurring cancer.

“The things that we focus on here at Sylvester, particularly in our own research program, is diet and exercise. And so, we know that a large percentage of survivors really can benefit from eating a healthier diet and moving their body more. We know that 40 to 50% of cancers could potentially be reduced with things like exercise and diet,” Dr. Crane says.

Making healthy lifestyle changes during and after cancer treatment can lead to better outcomes for patients. And as Dr. Crane points out, they’re not that hard to do.

Think about adding a salad to one of your meals. Think about adding that 10-minute walk to your lunch break. Those even small bursts of activity in your daily life add up to reducing your overall cancer risk.

– Dr. Crane

Sylvester’s survivorship program offers a holistic approach to patient care

“We have not only your traditional social support and psychology, but we also have art therapy, we have nutrition, we have exercise trainers. We are also in real time studying all these different aspects of survivorship, including the lifestyle medicine piece. And when we have findings or new improvements in the research arena, we are able to put that into real time clinical practice because we are able to take from the laboratory, so to speak, and the research, and put it directly into clinical practice. And that is what makes us really unique,” Dr. Crane says.

Iliana joined the ‘Believe in You’ program at Sylvester, increasing her physical activity with the goal of taking part in the Dolphins Challenge Cancer, and keeping an active lifestyle as a cancer survivor.

“We do cardio. We do strengthening. I’ve lost 30 pounds. I’m a lot stronger now than I was when I started this program,” says Iliana.

Cancer-free for five years, Iliana can’t wait to walk in the 2024 event with other survivors and her Sylvester family.

“I am very passionate with this ‘Believe in You’ Program and anytime I can speak to someone about it and get them in, I do. They give us nutrition classes as well, so that has changed the way that we eat. I can’t speak enough with that. We’re a family,” Iliana says.

Iliana says not only has the program changed her life, she’s looking forward to the future.

“To continue being healthy. I feel so good,” Iliana says.

Tracy Crane, Ph.D., is the Director of Lifestyle Medicine, Prevention, and Digital Health at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth – University of Miami Health System. Lifestyle medicine is just one of the services provided at Sylvester’s Cancer Survivorship Program.

Video transcript compiled by Janna Ross for ‘Focusing on You: Innovations in Modern Medicine,’ a series of health care-related stories airing regularly on WPLG Local 10.  For more stories like this one, visit UHealth’s YouTube channel.

Tags: believe in you program, cancer survivor, Dolphins Challenge Cancer, Dr. Tracy Crane, focusing on you, lifestyle medicine, survivorship program

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