Cancer patients or caregivers walk every Thursday for health

Darian Graivshark
From left to right: Keri Champion battles endometrial and ovarian cancer, Rochelle Marchand battles uterine and cervix cancer, Sandra Russ is in recovery for breast cancer, Petronilla Neal battles breast cancer, and Rachel Mumphrey is the event organizer.

Studies have shown that walking outdoors helps improve blood pressure, boosts mental health, and also reduces the risk of cancer.

Since November of 2017, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center has hosted a walking group every Thursday for patients that are battling cancer, as well as their caregivers. The walking group is a part of a survivorship program, which began in October 2017.

"The main purpose for doing the walking group is to help form connections and promote exercise," Rachel Mumphrey, Survivorship Coordinator, said. "We've had people meet in these groups that end up helping one another. Petronilla Neal and Keri Champion stood by one another in support while receiving chemo and even put together a basket of things one might need while going through that treatment. Many of them have been like family."

One of the walkers, Rochelle Marchand, was celebrating her 70th birthday while on the walk on October 4. Marchand had uterine cancer, then cervix cancer. In December, she will have been battling it for five years. She has a great grandson, Gabriel, that is three.

"I have to be able to keep up with him when I help take care of him. I believe that he was my blessing after I was diagnosed with cancer, because he gave me more to fight for. I want to be able to be there for him, and I hope he grows to be a godly man."

Marchand can't make every walk, because she also has an auto-immune disease, but has lost 47 pounds from walking on her weight loss journey.

Not all patients that attend the walk are Mary Bird patients, and Mumphrey said, "All cancer patients are welcome, wherever they may receive treatment from. As long as they are a cancer patient or a caregiver."

The walks begins at 9 a.m. at the Jambalaya Park in Gonzales and ends around 10 a.m. every Thursday.

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