Hope and Happiness After Cancer 7

Pacific Cancer Fitness

The quality of life of cancer patients and survivors of any type of cancer is not often discussed as much as the devastation of hearing the diagnosis and dealing with the medical processes involved. But one breast cancer survivor right here in Carlsbad realized the need to address that head on and is working to change the current mindset with her efforts.

Meet Susan Webster, founder of Pacific Cancer Fitness (PCF) and the brainchild behind the stress-free, non-threatening and supportive environment created at Tri City Wellness Center for patients post surgery, either undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation as well as those who’ve finished treatment.

“When you hear the word cancer…it is overwhelming. So we focus on helping people look at their situation in smaller bits,” says Webster, explaining why she created the non-profit three years ago. When Susan realized she was unaware acupuncture was available to her as a way to relieve nausea symptoms from her chemotherapy, she wanted to educate others as well. It motivated her to create an organization that would help cancer patients understand that they have options. “Options and knowledge that are credible lead to power. Power leads to hope. In group settings like we have here at PCF, people feel more of a sense of hope.”

A certified Cancer Exercise Trainer, Yoga instructor and Life Coach, Webster is the primary instructor. She has interns and other instructors that are students in kinesiology from UCSD, CSSM, and Azusa Pacific assisting her at PCF. Because exercise has been proven to help relieve the fatigue, weight gain and loss of balance that often accompanies cancer treatment, PCF offers weekly yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong classes, low-impact regimens that focus on mental as well as physical healing and exercise and strength training (twice a week).

“Most of our patients are physician-referred but anyone interested can contact us as most physicians are more than happy to refer their patients to a wellness program at Tri City Wellness Center.” The physicians’ input provides information to tailor the program to each client’s needs to keep them safe and offer more options. PCF membership costs $80 a month but no one is ever turned away due to lack of financial resources.

It is in the group settings that the patients feel comfortable in sharing their concerns, fears, hopes and dreams. “That’s why I started the bucket list group. Even people who don’t have cancer have no idea how long they have,” Webster says. Group members are encouraged to travel, engage with the community, enjoy activities they love and the group supports and motivates them to accomplish what they set their sights on. “We’re here to teach group members how to be a better patient. In our support groups, we tell patients to write up a list of questions and not leave until the doctor has answered them. We teach them that they have to do the work…they have to be advocates for themselves.”

Webster is the face of advocacy for cancer survivors in the gap between prevention and cure. While she leads the way for PCF’s operations and programs, she is always happy to welcome volunteers to move the group’s mission forward. Grant writing, fun activities (like stand up paddling), expert speakers, and assistance with social media are high on their list of needs. Fundraisers their Candlelight Yoga and Aloha Yoga at Tri City Wellness Center, Señor Grubbys Happy Hour in Carlsbad Village, and the Spring Fling Shopping event help spread awareness and educate the community on the meaningful work accomplished by this local nonprofit.

Chronic illness can be an isolating experience. Webster is working hard to fight that mindset, the stigma that often accompanies the diagnosis. “We want people to understand that they’re not alone and there is hope. They just got a head’s up with a cancer diagnosis as to how fragile life can be. We want them to live a healthy life work on fulfilling their dreams. We focus on their health and wellness, that’s the positive thing to do.” PacificCancerFitness.org