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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Eventually a national template: A cancer survivor’s philanthropy

Robert Sillerman, a media entrepreneur, was treated at Sloan-Kettering six years ago for tongue cancer. He received chemotherapy and radiation, and later began to suffer pain and muscle spasms in his shoulders and back, as well as increasing weakness in his left arm.

"I was two years out from my cure before I was able to find the right protocol and treatment," he says. "Our hope is to eliminate that and provide access to rehabilitation right away, initially in the New York metropolitan area and eventually to make that a template nationally." He has made a sizeable donation to Sloan-Kettering for an off-campus outpatient center devoted to physical rehabilitation for cancer survivors.

Today, he has reversed the damage from chemotherapy and radiation with a little medication and a lot of physical therapy. He exercises six days a week with weights, bands and manual resistance, partly with a personal physical therapist, whom he puts up in a Manhattan townhouse near his own.

There are now ten million cancer survivors! A medical specialty called survivorship has arisen. At several major hospitals in the U.S., the Lance Armstrong Foundation finances survivor programs to improve life after cancer.

Advice to cancer survivors: Consider physical therapy to help you fully recover.

Read another of our cancer survivor stories, or read Leslie Berger’s source story in yesterday’s New York Times, “Cancer Care Seeks to Take Patients beyond Survival.”

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