Cancer Fighters and Survivors Find Mutual Support Through Exercise

Martha Jefferson is pleased to be able to offer both the Movin' On exercise class and Yoga and Relaxation class FREE of charge for patients who are living with cancer or have had cancer in the past.  Philanthropy helps to support many of the complementary therapy offerings, like massage therapy, yoga and support groups - all designed to facilitate patient comfort during challenging times. Three times a week, an exercise class for cancer patients and survivors, known as Movin' On, takes place at Martha Jefferson Health and Wellness.  A gentle, low-impact exercise program focused on strengthening cardiovascular endurance and improving range of motion, the Movin’ On program was launched in 1999 to address patient interest in understanding the importance of exercise as part of the cancer recovery process.

The Movin' On class started as a safe place for people with cancer to exercise following a diagnosis and/or treatment," said Tracey Hill, Movin' On instructor.  "Over the years, we have really seen it evolve to become a support group that exercises."  On average, roughly eight to ten attendees participate in each class.  Some have been involved with the program since the beginning, while others are more recent newcomers — but all Movin' On class members are welcomed into the group with open arms.  "I saw a flyer one day advertising the class and thought I would check it out," said Nettie Frye, a class participant.  "Since then, I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment.  Tracy works to help bring out the best in each of us and teaches with a passion and love for what she does.  It gives us all motivation to keep coming back."   While many new attendees probably hope the class will be a healthy way to add exercise into their lives, some may not expect the sense of camaraderie the program also provides.  "We all come from different backgrounds and interests and run the span of ages," commented Letty Macdonald, who’s been participating in Movin' On for the past 12 years.  "The bond among us is strong, though.  We can talk about chemo, radiation and surgery, and understand and support each other.  Newly diagnosed patients who join the class are welcomed and embraced.  Also, it’s important to know that cancer isn’t our only topic of discussion.  Health topics do come up, but so do car repairs, parenting, a daughter’s wedding, the need to find a new job and vacation planning.  It’s just a great time all around."  "I'm grateful for the opportunity to work with such wonderful people," reflected Hill, "who come together not knowing each other, but continue to surround each other with care and support.  Whether it’s a shoulder to lean on, a dose of humor to make you laugh, or motivation to move on a day when you just really don’t feel like moving, this class offers a unique opportunity to exercise both body and mind."

In addition to Movin' On, Martha Jefferson also offers a free yoga and relaxation class once a week for those who might be in search of a more mindful experience.  Class instructor Susanna Nicholson has been practicing yoga for more than 35 years.   "What I love most about teaching the class is watching people blossom," said Nicholson.  "Not just survive, but thrive.  I watch them rediscover energy and perform movements they might not have been able to do right before cancer treatment, and it’s just wonderful to see them succeed."

To help ensure that new participants are comfortable, Nicholson meets individually with each new class member to discuss his or her treatment status, so she can then tailor specific exercises to help each person most effectively.  The caring community of fellow class members and the awesome skill and knowledge Susanna provides encourages me to keep coming back," commented JoAnn Dalley, a yoga class participant.  Janice Seibert, another yoga participant agrees, and adds that in addition to the actual yoga, the class also provides a community of support that’s extremely beneficial.  "People think of yoga as twisting yourself into challenging, uncomfortable postures, but that’s not what this is about.  This yoga practice is more restorative and gentle, and there is a sense of caring and community within the class that is an added bonus."


500 Martha Jefferson Drive
Charlottesville, Virginia 22911
Phone: (434) 654-8258
Fax: (434) 654-7316




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