- Title: Iraqi hospital offers aerobics for cancer patients
- Date: 17th January 2017
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) CANCER PATIENT, NISREEN ABDULLAH, SAYING: "I have been ill for seven years and thank God my health is good now. I had both of my breasts removed and I completed treatment and I feel better now. I come three days a week and practice for one hour a day. I wish that all the patients would come here to improve their health."
- Embargoed: 31st January 2017 11:50
- Keywords: health aerobics cancer breast fitness medical women hospital
- Location: SULAIMANIYA, IRAQ
- City: SULAIMANIYA, IRAQ
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA0025ZGV979
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A group of women gather three days a week at a sport centre in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya for aerobic classes.
The aim is not to shed extra weight but to reduce the effects of radiotherapy, high dose chemotherapy and ease cancer-related fatigue.
The exercise is part of a rehabilitation treatment programme designed for female cancer patients at Hiwa Cancer Hospital, Kurdistan's only specialised cancer hospital.
The women that come to the centre have undergone chemotherapy, had breasts removed and suffered from long-lasting tiredness and psychological distress caused by cancer and the effects of cancer treatments.
Sixty-six-year-old cancer patient Nisreen Abdullah has been visiting the centre for three months and says physical activity has vastly improved her health.
"I have been ill for seven years and thank God my health is good now. I had both of my breasts removed and I completed treatment and I feel better now. I come three days a week and practice for one hour a day. I wish that all the patients would come here to improve their health," said Abdullah.
"Another of the hospital's cancer patients, who has had surgery and undergone several chemotherapy sessions, said she has also benefited from the classes.
"A friend of mine told me about this centre, saying that it offers physical exercise to cancer patients of Hiwa Hospital and she advised me to go and so I did and I started to exercise. Before joining the centre I used to walk each day as advised by my doctor. Speaking for myself I really benefited a lot from these exercises," said 65-year-old Kulthum.
Women of all ages come to the centre to exercise for one hour a day, three times a week. The cost of the classes were initially covered by the cancer hospital.
But, as gym owner Farah Mawared explained, the hospital stopped funding the classes due to their own financial issues.
"The cost of training has been covered by the hospital except for the past year when the hospital stopped payment due to financial problems. Therefore, the patients have been asked to pay a sum ranging from 5,000 to 40,000 Iraqi dinars a month, according to each person's budget in order to cover part of the rent of the gym."
Hematologist-oncologist, Shwan Ali Tawfeeq, said that exercise can improve the quality of life, mood and the physical well-being of cancer patients during and after treatment.
"We have 120 patients who are being trained at the centre and this clearly shows that they are benefiting a lot from the physical exercises. We too had felt improvement in their conditions. They are now in good physical shape far better than before. Also sport is very important in improving the psychological condition of the patients as many of them experience anxiety, fear and depression and hence physical activity can help reduce stress and anxiety," said Tawfeeq.
One of the largest specialised facilities in Iraq, Hiwa Hospital offers treatment to thousands of cancer patients in the Kurdish region of Kurdistan.
The hospital is funded by the Kurdish government and money raised through civil society organizations and local businesses, but has suffered a cut in government funding in recent years.
According to Tawfeeq, the hospital received 2,000 patients in 2016, 1,700 of which came from Sulaimaniya, while the remaining 300 patients are from other parts of the Kurdistan region.
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