After women undergo treatment for breast cancer, they have a long road of recuperation ahead of them. Often, many women are not aware of the chronic, persistent problems that can occur after cancer has been treated. These include extreme fatigue, lymphedema, and pain and stiffness around the shoulder area. In addition, breast cancer survivors need emotional support to aid in their recovery.
Sherry Lebed Davis, once a professional dancer, created a program that helps women overcome these lingering effects, as well as provides them with a support system of other survivors. The program, entitled “Focus on Healing through Movement and Dance for the Breast Cancer Survivor” was developed in 1979 when Davis’ mother experienced a difficult recovery after breast cancer surgery. The exercises are a combination of physical therapy, chorus line moves, and coffee klatch that enable survivors to enhance their range of motion in their arms and shoulders. Doctors at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Philadelphia reported that “Women who participated improved flexibility and strength in their affected shoulders, experienced less pain and stiffness and had fewer problems later in their recovery.”
In 1996, after Davis was diagnosed with breast cancer, the program was updated and she began teaching the routine to other hospitals and health clubs. She currently tours the United States and her program is available on videotape by Enhancement Inc.
One of Davis’ students expresses her appreciation for the program, “It helps you feel not so isolated. After the class, I was so proud of myself. I had this wonderful feeling that I wasn’t hopeless anymore.”