Fitness Program Gets Young Cancer Patients Back in the Game

Vol. 16, No. 2
Spring/Summer 2006

  • Winthrop Neurosurgeon Offers Patients Relief From Severe Chronic Pain With Neurostimulation

  • Bug Bite & Once Controversial Treatment Saves Father of Six

  • Winthrop's New Arthritis & Rheumatic Disease Center Offers State-Of-The-Art Treatment

  • Winthrop First NY Metro Hospital to Receive the ASA's Initial Performance Achievement Award

  • Fitness Program Gets Young Cancer Patients Back in the Game

  • Hagedorns' Extraordinary Gift Helps Make Miracles Grow Everyday

  • The Miracle Foundation Gives $50,000 in Support of Cancer Center for Kids

  • First Annual Mardi Gras Gala Benefits Cancer Education, Research and Support Services

  • Retired Bank Chairman's Exceptional Generosity Benefits Winthrop's Pediatric Facilities

  • A Smart Way to Give

  • Winthrop Attracts Newest Medical Talent To Residency Program

  • Gifts of Love for Winthrop's Littlest Patients

  • Cardiac Surgeon and Family Donate in Support of Heart Surgery Center Construction

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  • During a recent game of dodgeball, 11- year-old Conor Lundy's shoulder was hit hard where a metaport once sat during cancer treatment. The game stopped as he and his parents eyed each other, forgetting that the port had been removed.

    Conor quickly realized that he no longer had to protect the once sensitive area. With a big smile, he picked up the ball and launched it across the room. It was clear that he was okay and definitely back in the game.

    "It really takes a lot for us to stop worrying and just let Conor be a kid again," explained his father, John Lundy. "He's been through so much since being diagnosed at three that it's hard to let go and encourage him to be a typical pre-teen."

    The Lundys' concern is understandable. Conor has had to play catch-up with his peers, both socially and physically, since ending treatment in 2004.

    "When he was sick, Conor was inside a lot and didn't get a chance to play with his buddies," explained Mr. Lundy. "Afterwards, his level of physical stamina was less than that of other children's."

    Looking to help their son rebuild his strength, the Lundys spoke with Conor's oncologist, Mark Weinblatt, MD, Chief, Division of Pediatric Oncology and Medical Director at Winthrop's Cancer Center for Kids. Dr. Weinblatt suggested Conor enroll in "Back in the Game," an innovative strength and fitness program designed to help former pediatric cancer patients recover strength, balance, flexibility and confidence.

    Developed with the help of physical fitness and medical professionals, the new, 12-week program involves two, one-hour weekly sessions that incorporates agility, dexterity and speed training at the Professional Athletic Performance Center in Garden City.

    "The Cancer Center for Kids treats the whole person during and after treatment," Dr. Weinblatt explained. "The 'Back in the Game' program helps kids--who have been through a very exhausting time get back on their feet. Working one-onone with the child, the team improves every aspect of their physical fitness while boosting their confidence to get involved in recreational activities following cancer."

    Peter Menges of Garden City conceived "Back in the Game." Three years ago, his eight-year-old son, Bobby, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, the most common extracranial cancer in infancy and childhood.

    "The perception that young kids quickly bounce back following chemo is basically true," Mr. Menges explained. "However, many of these kids still require a more individualized and formalized approach to help them regain the coordination, strength and confidence necessary to participate in everyday sports. These are the areas that are really impacted by cancer treatments."

    Fellow Garden City resident Rob Panariello, co-owner of the Professional Athletic Performance Center, along with his colleagues, assisted with designing "Back in the Game."

    "This is the first and only program of its kind," said Mr. Panariello. "We're really tailoring the program to the individual needs of each participant."

    Stacey Leondis of the Foster Foundation supported the launch of the program by providing the initial funding. She had her own lacrosse season sidelined at 16 when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, the most common type of bone cancer.

    "Both during and after treatment, chemo and surgery had a marked effect on my fitness and mobility," Ms. Leondis explained. "I really would have benefited from a program tailored to my personal needs. 'Back in the Game' is filling a real need for childhood cancer patients."

    "Conor loves the program, and he's gaining more confidence to eventually get involved in group sports," explained Mr. Lundy. "Parents need to encourage their kids to get out there because after treatment ends, children want a sense of normalcy in their lives. 'Back in the Game' helps them take that big step and get back into a routine."

    For more information about "Back in the Game," contact Mr. Menges at or call (516) 747-7357. Those interested in learning more about the Foster Foundation are encouraged to visit www.fosterfoundation. com. Or, to make a donation and support the "Back in the Game" program, please contact Maria Kavan, Development Specialist, Cancer Center for Kids, at (516) 663-9409.

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