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Patients walk for more than better health at Buffett Cancer Center

Posted at 5:15 PM, Sep 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-04 21:52:40-04

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be a very lonely experience; but at Nebraska Medicine, a simple walk is helping ease the stress and sadness for patients during their stay. 

When it comes to treating cancer, there are a lot of finish lines that patients cross, for example, the last chemo treatment or the last diagnosis, but one finish line on the Special Care Unit floor at the Buffett Cancer Center is motivating patients to get up and walk.

A simple walk can do a lot for a patient who has been diagnosed with cancer. But finding that motivation isn't always easy. "We had a lot of people who would walk the halls, but it was difficult to get everybody walking,” said Gisele Tlusty, an RN at the Buffett Cancer Center on the Special Care Unit floor. So, she decided to come up with some sort of incentive to get patients up and moving. 

This May she started a walking program where patients are encouraged to do laps around the unit. "I think there is a psycho-social component also that staying in your room all day doesn't really help motivate you to get better so getting out and talking to people who may be going through the same thing you are is so much better than talking to us about it,” said Tlusty. Each lap equals a mile and donated medals are handed out to patients who complete a 5K, a half marathon and a full marathon. 

26-year-old Lucas Souza was diagnosed in February with an uncommon type of lymphoma that affects the brain. After eight rounds of chemo and a stem cell transplant, he is now in recovery. So far, he has completed a 5K. "I'm not a huge exerciser outside of here so it was nice to be able to push myself to do something that I can be proud of,” said Souza. His goal is to get to a half marathon before he is released. "I figure if I do 10 laps a day which equals out to a mile I should be able to get there,” he said. Souza says walking has helped him see that he is not alone in his battle.

Also fighting is 61-year-old Robert Turk, he was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2014. He has completed 22 laps since he started walking Friday. I go until I get tired and then we start all over again." Turk says like Souza going for a simple walk makes him feel less alone. “It's unbelievable seeing people that are going through the same stuff or worse than I am and everybody's still trying,” he said, “we're all working on it, that's for sure." Walking to keep himself prepared to continue his fight.