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Nancy Howe

ACE Personal Trainer


ACE Profiles |  Nancy Howe

In 1997 at 42 years old, I was diagnosed with cancer. I was a competitive recreational runner, profiled in "Runner's World" in 1990, and a daily exerciser who followed a healthy diet. I developed an aggressive throat cancer anyway. My treatment included surgery to remove a golfball-sized tumor from my tonsil and six weeks of daily head-and-neck radiation. I was treated at Stanford Medical Center where oncologists encouraged me to rest throughout my two-month treatment regime. Radiation created fatigue, they said, and if I missed treatments because of exhaustion, I would jeopardize my recovery. But my experiences as a runner contradicted their advice. I decided to remain as active as possible during treatment to combat de-conditioning and to maintain a positive attitude. Eating was nearly impossible given the side-effects of radiation, so I boosted my diet with protein shakes and fresh fruit-and-vegetable smoothies instead of the canned food supplements that were sold at the radiation clinic.

My subsequent strong recovery, which was far better than anyone expected, changed my life. I left my career in software and started studying for my ACE Personal Trainer certification. As a personal trainer, I met many people with their own stories about physical activity and its role in helping them recover from their own health horrors: heart attacks, diabetes, pulmonary failure and lack of energy. I was inspired. In 2005 I completed my masters in Exercise and Wellness at Arizona State University and since then, I have been a persistent exercise advocate within Phoenix’s cancer community. I worked for the University of Arizona, Arizona Cancer Center researching the role of exercise and Qi Gong in cancer recovery until 2008. Our research confirmed my experience: exercise can reduce the risk of developing cancer, increase the effectiveness of cancer treatment, reduce the negative side effects of treatment and reduce the risk of a cancer recurrence.

Now, armed with both an MS and a Cancer Exercise Specialist certification, I deliver exercise as a therapeutic agent for free to people living with a cancer diagnosis in Phoenix and Scottsdale at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center. I started my own non-profit and I am working to raise awareness and support to open a second center in Phoenix. 


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