50 | fall 2018
showed that adults over 65 who received physical
therapy to bolster strength and endurance, coupled
with occupational therapy to address daily function,
had better scores on mental health assessments compared to those who received standard care. In addition, Pergolotti says, people who participated in the
rehabilitation program in her study were more likely
to say that they believed they could participate in
the activities they value. “We think that may signify
[that] older adults with cancer are more likely able
to participate in what they find meaningful after
rehabilitation,” she says.
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Gwen Stevens of Magnolia, Texas, was diagnosed
with stage IV ovarian cancer in June 2015. After
a nearly eight-hour operation to remove tumors,
reproductive organs, and part of her intestine,
she received the chemotherapy drugs carboplatin
and Taxol (paclitaxel) every three weeks over five
months. After treatment, she had no evidence of
disease, but in September 2016, a CT scan revealed
a tumor in her upper abdomen. She had surgery to
remove the tumor and started another six rounds of
chemotherapy early in 2017.
After completing her treatments, Stevens, who had
previously walked four miles a day, could barely take
a single step. She also developed severe neuropathy
in her hands and feet, and frequently found herself
forgetting words and having trouble concentrating.
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