Exercise studio offers a new
program to help breast cancer
patients rebuild their lives.
Instructor Gayle Eubanks demonstrates a stretch used in the Pink Ribbon Program.
Special to the Jewish News
raditionally, women recu-
perating from breast can-
cer surgery have been told
to "take it easy"
That's an instinctive reaction
to the pain, anxiety, nausea and
bone-deep exhaustion brought
on by breast cancer surgery and
the chemotherapy and radiation
that frequently follow.
But this is one case where your
instincts may be wrong, said
Nancy Hodari, owner and educa-
tion director at Equilibrium
Pilates Studio. Guided exercise,
undertaken with a doctor's
approval, rebuilds not only
wounded muscles but also
wounded spirits, she said.
The Bloomfield Township stu-
dio is one of only eight facilities
in the United States to offer the
Pink Ribbon Program, a special-
ized post-operative workout pro-
gram for breast cancer survivors.
"I first became aware of the
program last year, when both my
mother and sister-in-law were
diagnosed and treated for breast
cancer:' said Hodari, a Temple
Israel member who lives in
"The Pink Ribbon Program
was developed by Doreen Jones,
an exercise physiologist who has
a studio in New York. Four of my
teachers wanted to do the train-
ing, so it made more sense to
bring her instructors here
Woman can start the exercise
regimen whether they've had
breast cancer surgery last month
or 15 years ago, Hodari said. The
program is not covered by insur-
"My mother had breast cancer
last year, and as soon as she woke
up from surgery, she was asking,
When can I play golf? When can
I go on my treadmill?'"
While an immediate return to
golf may be a little extreme, you
need to get out of the house and
start to return to normal, she
Equilibrium, located in a quiet
single-story medical complex
with plenty of parking, is an
ideal first step, Hodari said.
"We have women who come
here straight from chemotherapy"
Instructor Kimberly Kuncl of Rochester gets help on stretching
from another instructor, Gayle Eubanks of West Bloomfield.
October 27 . 2005
The Pink Ribbon Program is
based on Pilates, a non-aerobic
exercise method first developed
in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates to
improve strength and flexibility
without creating bulk.
Equilibrium teaches Stott Pilates,
a version of the original method
that incorporates more recent
knowledge of physical therapy
and exercise physiology.
Jones developed the Pink
Ribbon Program about four
years ago to meet a specific need
and soon learned its benefits
"As an exercise physiologist, I
am trained to work with individ-
uals who have specific medical
limitations:' she said. "Several of
my clients were breast cancer
survivors. When trying to find
existing protocols for the breast
cancer survivor, I was shocked to
find that there was no specific
protocol for this particular popu-
"Then, as fate would have it, I
was diagnosed with breast can-
cer in May 2004;' she said.
After her mastectomy, Jones
used her program to rehabilitate
herself. This experience also
helped fine-tune the program,
"Having the personal experi-
ence of going through the surger-
ies and subsequent pain, loss of
mobility in my affect arm, and
psychological side effects has
helped me truly understand the
short- and long-term effects of
breast cancer:' Jones said. "It also
helps those who have been diag-
nosed to feel confident in the
Pink Ribbon Program because
they know if has been designed
by a survivor for survivors."
Each of the four Equilibrium
teachers who completed Pink
Ribbon Program training last
June as a Breast Cancer Post-
Rehab Exercise Specialist is also
a certified Stott Pilates teacher.
Among them is Kimberly Kuncl
of Rochester Hills.
"People who go through breast
surgery change their entire
shoulder complex:' said Kuncl,
who earned a master's degree in
physical therapy from Duke
University in Durham, N.C., and
has extensive experience in
orthopedics and sports medi-
Surgery affects the range of
motion involving the chest, back
and abdominal muscles as well
as the shoulder, she said. "This
gets the muscles moving again,
in a carefully controlled way.
"When you've had cancer, your
energy is down; and you feel like
you've had your control of your-
self taken away;' said Kuncl.
"This gives you back that con-
"I'm a cervical cancer survivor
myself:' she added. "Now that I've
been there, I'm especially aware
of what women are going
Learn more about the
Pink Ribbon Program at