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Piedmont’s Loran Smith Center Partners with Athens YMCA to Offer Wellness Training

Athens, Ga. (Dec. 17, 2019) – Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center’s Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support is now offering wellness and fitness counseling to its patients through the Athens YMCA.

The new program gives qualifying Loran Smith Center patients the opportunity to work with a community educator for wellness assessments, nutritional consults and wellness coaching as well as exercise or training using Athens YMCA equipment.

“We’re very pleased to be able to now offer this to our patients,” said Sandy Pyle, RN, cancer navigator at the Loran Smith Center. “Regular exercise is such an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and this new program ensures patients who need more assistance with wellness goals have the support they need.” 

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), sedentary behavior, such as prolonged periods of television viewing, sitting and lying down, is a risk factor for developing chronic conditions, including cancer. Research shows substantial evidence that higher levels of physical activity are linked to lower risks of several cancers, such as breast, colon and uterine cancers.

Working with Pyle, patients can apply for a YMCA access card, which provides them eight free sessions with April Dorsett, RN, a Piedmont Athens Regional community educator and wellness coach.

Loran Smith Center patient Joyce Malcom is one of the first patients to utilize the new YMCA program and has been meeting with Dorsett regularly for wellness sessions. “I want to get my extra weight off and hope to not have take so many different medications,” Malcom said.

Malcom suffered from three different cancer diagnoses over the years. She’s been a patient of the center for more than 10 years and is now making healthy lifestyle choices to help her reach a healthy weight.

Malcom’s daughter Lynn Malcom is her full-time caregiver. She accompanies Joyce to these sessions with Dorsett at the YMCA and even joins in on their workouts and helps maintain nutrition goals.

“We’ve stopped eating fast food,” Joyce said. “If we don’t get it from the grocery store, then we don’t eat it.” The pair have already experienced benefits from the regular exercise, and according to Joyce, she’s noticed a difference in her energy and how she feels during the day.

“We’ve work to set goals each session, complete a regular exercise routine custom to the patient, and I counsel patients on other healthy lifestyle changes that are needed such as nutrition changes,” Dorsett said. “Patients can use these eight sessions however they see fit, but we hope that it gives them a good start to making some changes to better themselves.”

Once the eight sessions are completed, Dorsett and the Loran Smith Center team also assist patients who are interested in continuing their time at the Athens YMCA with applying for financial assistance to obtain a regular membership. 

“We hope this new program gives cancer patients and their caregivers the resources they need to continue setting goals and making healthy choices,” Dorsett said.

The Loran Smith Center, funded through the Piedmont Athens Regional Foundation, provides free services and programs, such as yoga, nutrition classes, therapies and counseling for anyone affected by cancer at any phase in the cancer journey – regardless of where a person receives his or her cancer treatment. 

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