Iraqi hospital offers
aerobics for female cancer patients
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[January 18, 2017]
SULAIMANIYA, Iraq (Reuters) - Three
days per week, a group of women gather at a sport center in the Iraqi
Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya for aerobic classes.
The aim of the sessions is not to lose weight and build stamina, but
to reduce the harmful effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy and
to ease cancer-related fatigue.
The exercises are part of a rehabilitation program for female cancer
patients at Hiwa Cancer Hospital, the only specialized cancer
facility in northern Iraq's Kurdistan region.
All the women involved have undergone painful cancer treatments and
some have had breasts removed. Most have suffered from tiredness and
psychological distress due to the disease.
"I had both of my breasts removed," said 66-year-old cancer patient
Nisreen Abdullah, who has attended the three hour-long classes each
week for the last three months. She says the workouts have helped
her feel much better.
"I wish that all the patients would come here to improve their
health," Abdullah said.
The aerobic sessions began four years ago after an agreement between
the hospital and a local gym owner, Farah Mawared. The aim was to
provide physical training for cancer patients who completed
Since then, about 120 women have taken part in the classes,
according to Mawared and Shwan Ali Tawfeeq, who works as a
hematologist-oncologist at the hospital.
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"Sport is very important in improving the psychological condition of
the patients as many of them experience anxiety, fear and
depression," Tawfeeq said.
One patient, who gave her name as Kulthum, said her right breast was
removed after she was diagnosed with cancer about five years ago.
She was subjected to several chemotherapy doses, she said, and
underwent laser photo-radiation.
"A friend told me about this center," said Kulthum. "She advised me
to go and so I did ... I really benefited a lot from these
(Reporting by Reuters TV in Iraq; Editing by Daniel Wallis)
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