Activating Cancer Communities

By Melanie Keats Join Me

Before asking for your support, I want to share some of the events that have brought me here today. 

In 1972, my brother Robbie was diagnosed with acute myeloblastic leukemia.  At that time, his future was certain – there was nothing that could be done and he would succumb to the disease.  Rob passed away less than a year later. 

Twelve years later, when I was diagnosed with an aggressive spinal cord tumor, although my prognosis was better, my long-term survival was questionable. Today, through advances in early detection and treatment regimes, over 80% of children and 65% of adults diagnosed with cancer will overcome the disease.  However, it is clear that many will continue to confront considerable health challenges throughout their lifetimes. 

Prior to my first cancer diagnosis, I was slowly losing function in my lower extremities.  At the time, it was thought that the weakness that I was experiencing was as a result of several falls that I had had over the weeks prior. It became rapidly apparent however, that my problems were not simply the result of a few falls.  In fact, it became clear that the falls were merely a symptom of something much larger.  After several medical consultations, I was finally seen and assessed by a neurosurgeon.  Less than 8 hours after the initial exam I was on the operating table. Following surgery and the removal of as much of the tumor as was possible, I underwent 6 weeks of radiation therapy and several months of physiotherapy to learn how to walk again.  Even though I was still struggling to put one foot in front of the other, all I could think of was getting back to school so I could rejoin my basketball team. 

Having confronted a second cancer diagnosis and a recurrence of the spinal cord tumor, physical activity and sport played a significant role in my recovery and continues to play an instrumental role in my overall health and well-being today.

My passion for advocating for physical activity and exercise programming for individuals with cancer was borne out of personal experiences but is backed by a wealth of scientific evidence. It is my goal to ensure that all those living with or affected by a cancer diagnosis are provided with access and opportunities to participate in safe and effective exercise programming. 

With this goal in mind, in partnership with the Nova Scotia Health Cancer Care Program and QEII Foundation we have been offering exercise programming to members of our community since 2018. 

Regrettably, our grant funding is coming to an end and we need your support to ensure that we can keep ACCESS (Activating Cancer Communities through an Exercise Strategy) running. Funds received from the QEII Foundation when you donate on this page will support the retention of a Clinical Exercise Physiologist to ensure continued access to safe, tailored exercise programs.  Every $250 donated provides a 12-week, twice weekly, individually tailored, supervised exercise program for another individual coping with, and/or recovering from cancer and cancer-related treatments. 

We thank you all in advance for your gracious support.


To learn more about the ACCESS program, please copy and paste this link into your browser: 

https://www.qe2times.ca/exercise-and-cancer-a-winning-combination-271#:~:text=Activating Cancer Communities through an,individuals confronted with the disease.

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