Mac Warriors in the News!

Cathie Coward,The Hamilton Spectator

Working with a weighted ball helps cancer survivor Lorraine Oliver build upper body and core strength.

Hamilton Spectator

By Saira Peesker

More than a year after being treated for breast cancer, Laurie Campbell was still feeling fatigued — often struggling to find energy to make dinner after a full day at work.

The 51-year-old had never been particularly active, but it was as if her treatment for breast cancer took everything she had left and it just wasn't coming back. That is, until she began an exercise program.


"I was feeling just that exhaustion, probably five or six days a week," said Campbell. "But it seemed the first day we started (exercising), I felt better."

Campbell is one of three women who took part in the first instalment of the Mac Warriors breast cancer boot camp, at McMaster University's Physical Activity Centre of Excellence. The four-week program saw participants, each recovering from breast cancer, undergo a detailed assessment, then work out in

a group twice a week with a physiotherapist and kinesiologist.


"We (start by understanding) all the treatment they've been through, what their limitations may be, what medications they are on and is their range of motion affected," said physiotherapist Jennifer Beck, who runs the program alongside kinesiologist Angelica McQuarrie. "There's good research to show that during treatment, exercise is beneficial."


Exercise during or after cancer treatment has been shown to increase mobility, decrease fatigue and improve muscle tone, among other benefits, explained Beck. Exercise is also a key way to prevent cancer and its recurrence.

Beck said that often, patients worry they are going to push it too hard and add to their exhaustion if they hit the gym, but there's a difference between cancer fatigue and being tired.


"Cancer fatigue occurs in about 90 per cent of patients," she said. "They used to think the best thing to do was just lie on the couch and rest. The research is now showing that's counterproductive."

The boot camp combined cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training, working to open participants' chest walls, strengthen the back, improve shoulder mobility and add to participants' overall conditioning. The first session ended recently, but Beck says they are prepared to host another one if they get enough public interest.


The boot camp cost participants $150 for eight sessions.


Further, Beck says the Mac Warriors team can design exercise programs for patients with all kinds of cancers. A one-hour intake assessment costs $100, billable as physiotherapy for people with extended coverage. After that, they offer one-on-one treatment or twice-weekly group gym sessions where participants can work out with expert supervision, for $50 a month.

The main goal of the workout program, Beck says, is teaching people about what exercise they can safely do, and getting them into a lasting routine.

"No one can do all your rehab for you," she said. "They have to adapt it to suit their own lifestyle."


It seems the breast cancer boot camp participants are taking that to heart. All three say they will continue their workouts, two during the supervised hours at Mac's gym and one on her own.


"I am stronger," said Lorraine Oliver, 58. "My balance has improved. My fatigue has improved but it's still not quite there. "(Working out with Jennifer) just makes you feel good and normal and motivated and happy."

905-526-2420 | @Peesker


Be a Mac Warrior

Mac Warriors is accepting cancer patients at any stage in their journey for one-on-one treatment, or for twice-weekly supervised workouts in the gym. They are also gauging interest for future boot camps.

For more information, call 905-525-9140, ext. 27541, or email


  • NEWS!! New Breast Cancer Boot Camp session starting Tuesday June 30th on Tuesdays and Thursdays for 4 weeks!!

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