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Edmonton sports announcer fights cancer with fitness

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The Alberta Cancer Exercise Program is a “life saver and life assurance” for the Edmonton-based local sports broadcaster battling cancer.

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Dave Jamison, who has worked with Edmonton Elks and is a radio host on TSN 1260, was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in 2021. He had surgery in July last year to remove a three-centimeter-high tumor from his neck and underwent six weeks of radiation.

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“After that, my body was destroyed,” he said. “I mean, I had very little left, I had no muscle, I lost over 40 pounds. There was a period there during radiation, I lost my ability to speak, which was scary given my current work.”

Then it started with Alberta Cancer Exercise (ACE) from Corbett Hall at the University of Alberta, which helps cancer patients regain their physical strength.

“What ACE has helped me with is the physical aspect, obviously, just to very gently rebuild the body, rediscover the body,” Jamison said.

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“But there’s also, as anyone who’s exercised knows, there’s a benefit you get from re-engaging with your body and understanding that, well, there’s some hope here, because I wasn’t in a very good place when I got here. But I always say, I felt it was better.” He left this program every day I came here more than when I came.”

Margaret McNeely, professor of rehabilitation medicine at A.A. University, said:

“We use exercise strategically to address symptoms and side effects of cancer treatments so that individuals can either better tolerate treatment and/or recover from cancer treatments,” she said.

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Patients can be assessed, problem areas identified, and an exercise regimen strategically built to be adapted to the individual. McNeely said the 12-week program completion rate is 93 percent while commitment to the exercise is 84 percent.

The program is available for all cancer types and stages of cancer and has been rolled out across the county, with more than 2,400 people participating in it.

“(Patients) can go back to the program themselves. If there are any safety issues, in terms of exercises, we go back to the doctor for approval, but otherwise, they can refer to themselves,” McNeely said. “So we made access to the program.” It’s really easy for them.”

Jamieson has completed a 12-week, 10-week program with ACE and is now considered a graduate. He is now defending the program and credits it with giving him hope.

“What Ace has done for me, and I think he does for others, gives you a way forward and he does it through physical activity,” he said. “For those who are suffering and suffering from cancer, whatever form it may take, you need hope.”

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