How exercise can boost the health of breast cancer survivors

Carla Sanchez works out with Christina Dieli-Conwright. (Photo/Christina Gandolfo)

When Carla Sanchez started working out as part of a study on exercise’s impact on women who survived breast cancer, she was surprised at how vigorous it was.

“I’m 65, so I’m not exactly a young kid,” Sanchez said. “When I was younger, women didn’t necessarily lift weights.”

Though she was an avid bowler before entering breast cancer treatment, Sanchez said the weights and stationary bike in the gym were all new to her.

A retired nurse, Sanchez had taken care of breast cancer patients in the 1970s. At that time, she was taught that breast cancer patients shouldn’t be lifting more than 5 pounds — for the rest of their lives.

“And all of a sudden, here I am, lifting 20, 30 or 40 pounds in a gym,” she said. “I just wanted to get better.”

Sanchez was part of a pioneering study from Christina Dieli-Conwright, an assistant professor of research at the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy.

Tough battles ahead

Dieli-Conwright explained that most women treated with chemotherapy for breast cancer often gain weight.

“Breast cancer has a relatively high survival rate, and many people don’t


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