St. Clair checkup

Cancer patients and survivors face complex physical, emotional and spiritual challenges, and they need every resource in order to address those challenges. At St. Clair Hospital’s Cancer Care Center, they find many resources, including the highest quality, cutting edge treatment from expert specialists. They also find creative, caring initiatives that promote wellness and quality of life. One such program is Yoga for Cancer Patients, an innovative program St. Clair launched in June.

Yoga for Cancer Patients promises many benefits for patients and caregivers, says Vincent E. Reyes, M.D., a board-certified oncologist/hematologist at St. Clair who created the program with Heather Martorella, R.N., M.S.N., O.C.N., Oncology Nurse Specialist. “Yoga is wonderful for cancer patients, and restorative yoga, the form that we are offering, was developed specifically for people with medical problems and physical limitations,” Dr. Reyes says. “It’s gentle, safe and easy; anyone can do it, even seated or in a wheelchair. It emphasizes breathing, healing, meditation and touch, and it creates a sense of peace and well-being.”

Dr. Reyes, who was curious about the medical benefits of yoga, was inspired by his wife, Kathleen Reyes, M.D., a geriatrician, and his colleague, Lanie Francis, M.D., an oncologist and director of the Integrative Medicine Program at Hillman Cancer Center. “I tried it myself; I went to a class at South Hills Power Yoga in Dormont and it was fantastic. I was shocked to learn how easy it is,” he says.

Medical research is increasingly documenting medical benefits of yoga, and many studies prove its value for cancer patients. The Oncology Nursing Society says yoga is effective as an intervention for anxiety and depression; chemo-induced nausea and vomiting; cognitive impairment; sleep disorders and fatigue; and pain in patients with cancer.

Yoga for Cancer Patients was developed in partnership with South Hills Power Yoga. Teacher Holly Koenig, RYT, says that restorative yoga is designed to “turn off” the body’s stress response and turn on the relaxation response.

Free Yoga for Cancer Patients classes are conducted monthly at the Dunlap Conference Center, Fourth Floor, St. Clair Hospital, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Yoga mats, fruit and water are provided. Participants should bring two bed pillows to class and wear comfortable clothing that moves with their bodies.

For schedule and information, call 412-942-5082.

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