Feb 19, 2008

This article appeared in the Orange Country Register Health Column. It's an interesting idea for exercises designed for women recovering from breast cancer and those who may also be suffering from lymphadema that sometimes accompanies breast surgery.

What if I told you blowing bubbles – those kiddie ones that come with a wand in a plastic bottle – should be part of your morning fitness routine?

Or that the same exercises designed to help women recovering from breast cancer will also benefit people with Parkinson's, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, weight control, senior fitness, even pregnant women?

Sherry Lebed Davis created this innovative program for breast cancer survivors and now finds she is a national sensation for general fitness. Her program is taught at hospitals, wellness centers and fitness clubs.

She brings her program to Orange County as part of a three-day seminar for professional trainers Friday-Sunday at the Cordelia Knott Wellness Center in Orange. She'll also appear in two different short segments from 6 to 8 a.m. on KDOC-TV's Daybreak OC on Friday.

Q: Your program has been featured in just about every major publication, from PEOPLE to The New York Times, and on television talk shows and various health conferences. What's going on here?

A: These exercises were developed with my two brothers (Dr. Joel P. Lebed and Dr. Marc R. Lebed for my mom 28 years ago because she had breast cancer and she was depressed. But as the program progressed, it started to be used for people with other illnesses.

There are so many medical studies going on about it – from multiple sclerosis to hospice care, even pool exercises. Who would have thought a program started for mom is now in 14 countries outside the U.S.? I'm pretty proud and amazed and so are my brothers.

Q: You have trainers who teach the program and also a book, "Thriving After Breast Cancer" and a DVD, "The Lebed Method, Focus on Healing." The DVD actually best illustrates your program, I understand, because it focuses on healing dance and movement therapy?

A: Well, it's fun and easy and it also increases flexibility, works on balance, may help reduce lymphedema swelling, helps decrease frozen shoulder. It just has many benefits.

Q: I like the DVD because the people in it are obviously in recovery themselves. You developed lymphedema after you got breast cancer and are shown wearing a compression sleeve. Others are wearing leg compression stockings.

A: I got breast cancer in 1996 and flew more than 300 times before I developed lymphedema. No one told me to wear that preventive sleeve before I flew. But that experience led my brothers and me to design a special program to work with the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a major part of the immune system and the exercises, that open the DVD, should be done by everyone.

Q: The book is liberally illustrated with what appear to be simple exercise movements.

A: I was a professional dancer and choreographer. The exercises are very slow and smooth with some resistance. They're fun. In our classes we use props and a lot of fun things.

Q: I assume you encourage people to go to a class before they purchase the book or the DVD?

A: Yes, that's the best way to get involved, of course. But if there's no class available, then the book or DVD will get you going.

Q: Where can we get information on classes and other materials, such as the book?

A: Go to my Web site, www.focusonhealing.net. There is information on teachers nationally. And if someone cannot afford the book or DVD, we do have a nonprofit to help them. It's all on the Web site.

Q: And if I don't want all the goop from blowing bubbles in my house?

A: Blow on a pinwheel instead.

Contact the writer: Jane Glenn Haas jghaas@cox.net

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