Brenda Hanson, a retired instructor at the University of Missouri’s Sinclair School of Nursing, led an active life before she was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2017.
She walked up to 3 miles a day and participated in Bike MS, a 150-mile bicycle ride. Then chemotherapy and radiation treatments sapped her energy and affected her balance.
That’s when Hanson asked her medical oncologist about physical therapy. She received a list of locations and noticed Mizzou Therapy Services had a facility in Ashland, just 7 miles from her home in Hartsburg. In September 2018, Hanson began physical therapy with Katie Williamson, PT, DPT, the clinical supervisor of the Ashland branch.
“On her first visit, she got short of breath walking from the waiting room down to the gym,” Williamson said. “By the time she was done here, she was biking 20 to 25 minutes on her own before we did 45 minutes of strength training. That’s the difference in two months.”
When Hanson had met therapy goals and gained independence in her exercises, Williamson “graduated” her from physical therapy and promptly marched her to the front desk to fill out a YMCA membership. Since opening in April 2015, the Ashland clinic has been in partnership between MU Health Care and the Southern Boone Area YMCA. So when patients such as Hanson complete their physical therapy, they can continue working out in a familiar setting.
“We are equipping and empowering people to continue exercising for the rest of their lives,” Williamson said. “I don’t want people to come to PT and need my guidance forever. That’s the beautiful thing about the partnership with the Y. I can get them used to the equipment here, they know I’m still here as a resource, but gradually get them to independently exercise on their own where they feel safe.”
The Ashland YMCA is currently raising money for a facility that will almost double the space of the fitness room and include new features such as a swimming pool, a gym and outdoor athletic fields. MU Health Care kicked off the fundraising campaign with a $450,000 donation.
Once completed, the Mizzou Therapy Services’ Ashland location will be even more enticing. The clinic is equipped to serve all ages for any diagnosis requiring outpatient therapy, including joint or spine pain, gait and balance disorders, generalized weakness or fatigue, pain with pregnancy and even golf performance.
In addition to her continued workouts in Ashland, Hanson joined other recovering cancer patients in the Fit for Health program at MU Health Care’s Human Performance Institute.
“It gets discouraging when you’re not as active as what you’re used to being and you have difficulty walking up and down stairs,” Hanson said. “I found it most useful coming here. Great instruction, great tips for home exercises. It’s been a very positive experience here and bolstered my self-confidence.”