Working Out for Cancer Survivors
Renee Plodzik Was Inspired to Get Fit for a Cause
Bright and early every Sunday morning, several dozen people gather at Concord’s Memorial Field for a physical workout that helps keep them fit – and helps local cancer patients.
The group, including young couples with their kids, are part of the ‘fit4acause outdoor boot camp’, started three years ago by cancer survivor and Concord Hospital Medical Group Internal Medicine nurse practitioner Renee Plodzik.
Renee, a certified fitness instructor, started the workouts to help stay fit herself and to benefit services and programs for cancer survivors who often are left with many questions after treatment ends.
“There is a lot of support through treatment, then you hear there is no evidence of disease and all of that support drops off,” Renee said. “It’s really post-treatment that patients I see in the clinic are struggling with, both physically and emotionally. They wonder ‘what’s next’ and have that fear that their cancer will recur.”
The boot camp workouts are not geared toward cancer survivors, but the dedicated group that shows up supports survivorship programs by donating to attend. The first year, the group raised about $1,000. Last year that increased to approximately $1,600.
The funds support everything from strength and conditioning programs and counseling to nutritional services and bra fittings for breast cancer survivors.
Bootcamp workouts are open to anyone, at any fitness level.
“What I like about it is that people don’t need daycare,” Renee said. “Kids come. Kids run around, they play soccer, they can sometimes go with their parents to the different stations. A bunch of moms, dads and kids come every single week.”
The fitness and conditioning programs the donations support, and the boot camp workouts themselves are important in the fight against cancer.
“The American Cancer Society says participating in at least 150 minutes of exercise a week after treatment can prevent that cancer from reoccurring and prevent new cancers from starting,” Renee said. “It’s your best bet in preventing cancer from recurring.”
In addition to her job as an Internal Medicine nurse practitioner, Renee recently was named to a newly created position as a nurse practitioner for Concord Hospital Payson Center for Cancer Care’s Survivorship Program.
But she organizes the weekly workouts as a volunteer, on her own time. The donations do not support her position. In August, she took the boot camp a step further by organizing the first fi t4acause Triple Challenge, including a 5-mile bike ride, a 5K walk/run, and a boot camp workout.
“The theme was: ‘You ARE strong enough,’” she said, which applies to the athletes and to patients during and after cancer treatment. “Look how strong you are! You ARE strong enough.”