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Physical Fitness: A Way of Life That Helped Save a Life!

by Bill Ligas | Jan 08, 2016
It’s proven that working out can improve quality of life and often extend life expectancy. For north side Chicago resident Dan Tepke, his time at Galter LifeCenter succeeded in doing both!


In addition to regular exercise, Dan utilized personal training at Galter LifeCenter in combination with outpatient physical therapy as a part of the Integrated Cancer Care program at Swedish Covenant Hospital, significantly reducing the side effects of recent cancer treatments.

Six years ago, on Dan’s very first day visiting Galter LifeCenter, an introductory fitness test uncovered a heart abnormality that required immediate surgery. Thankful and impressed by the competency of the staff, Dan joined Galter LifeCenter following his procedure. As a former two-sport college athlete, he made fitness a way of life, working out five days a week using a combination of cardio and weight training.

Recently, Dan received an unexpected prostate cancer diagnosis after a routine checkup uncovered an irregularity in his PSA levels. He immediately entered Swedish Covenant Hospital’s Integrated Cancer Care program, which offered a unique and comprehensive combination of surgery, radiation, physical therapy and personal training. “While the diagnosis was quite unexpected, it’s really helpful to know who you’re working with and what is next,” said Dan.  “The Swedish Covenant Hospital doctors and physical therapists and my Galter LifeCenter personal trainer helped develop a program I could focus on while working to reduce side effects and maintain a high quality of life even as I went through the treatments.”

Dan had a successful prostatectomy with Dr. Matthew Meadows, an urologist at Swedish Covenant Hospital who specializes in robotic surgery. Following the procedure, Dan worked with both a personal trainer and physical therapist experienced in treating cancer patients to accelerate the healing process and prepare him for radiation.

Dan began working with Physical Therapist Heather Baker, PT, DPT, COMT, the pelvic pain and incontinence coordinator at Swedish Covenant Hospital, to reduce the side effects of his surgery. Heather provided Dan with a broad spectrum of exercises that he could complete on his own each day to aid in the healing process. “Heather did a great job in developing exercises to strengthen my pelvic floor to reduce side effects, including incontinence which was a major concern for me as it would be for any patient undergoing prostate cancer treatment,” said Dan.

Following his physical therapy, Dan transitioned to personal training to continue to enhance his recovery and fitness.  He started to train with Sue Talbert, a NASM certified personal trainer and AAHFRP post rehabilitation medical exercise specialist at Galter LifeCenter.

 Dan with trainers

Sue leveraged her education and 20-plus years of experience to help Dan increase his energy levels and shorten his recovery time. Her thorough understanding of body mechanics, exercise modification for specific needs and the equipment at Galter LifeCenter assisted her in providing Dan with a varied exercise experience. Dan increased his endurance and strength without exacerbating his condition. “Sue developed a variety of challenging routines to keep me interested,” said Dan. “She’s fabulous and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the human body. She knows how to get great results.”

Heather and Sue also did several joint therapy/training sessions together with Dan to further drive his results and aid his recovery. Through their combined efforts, Dan experienced a notable and exceptional resistance to the expected side effects of a prostatectomy and radiation therapy. With their help, Dan developed a fitness plan that he could follow during the entire treatment process to recovery. “For me, it was key to be in good physical condition so that my downtime was minimized,” he said. His motivation in this regard assisted him in staying consistent, often exercising immediately following radiation as a way to rejuvenate and reenergize.

Recent tests show that Dan is cancer free, and he will continue to work with both Sue Talbert and Heather Baker while completing the final stages of his recovery. “I’m seeing a continuous improvement and estimate I’m already at 80% back to normal regarding the side effects and I expect to improve even more,” he said. “I credit the results to the great team of doctors, along with Heather and Sue who have worked together to develop a program specifically for me. I look forward to staying active, spending time with my grandkids and, of course, working out at Galter LifeCenter for decades to come.”

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