Blog and reviews05 Oct 2015 10:18 am

unc-chapel-hill-logoMy first trip to UNC-Chapel Hill was packed!  I am very interested in their PhD program in Exercise Physiology with an emphasis on post-oncology treatment exercise/physical activity.  I’ve noticed that most of the post treatment “thrivers” that are physically active after treatment are actually doing quite well.  I always wondered why.  Are they more physically active because they take advantage of what they can do (thrive) OR are they able to thrive as a result of their physical activity?  There must be some correlation between “post-treatment thrivership” and physical activity and exercise…  I do know that exercise/physical activity has benefits. In Physical Therapy school my research mentor, Dr. Jacqueline Drouin, looked at the Effects of Moderate Intensity Exercise on different parameters in Women Undergoing Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer.  I was initially drawn to her research before my brain tumor diagnosis because sadly my family has been affected by cancer on multiple occasions!

Anyways, I was very fortunate to know a few people in Chapel Hill who could help me navigate the campus.  My cousin Nick Galvez (who is also a physical therapist) picked me up from the airport and dropped me off at my friend Dr. Carmina Valle’s place.  Carmina is a professor in the UNC School of Social Work.  She was gracious enough to let me stay in the guest room of their house close to campus.  I had a very busy schedule because the following day:  I was going to lecture at the DPT program, then talk to someone about returning to school for a PhD, and then explore the accessibility of the campus in Chapel Hill. On top of that I wanted to meet the members of the North Carolina chapter of the Philippine Nurses Association. The campus reminded me of Ann Arbor with the historic architecture, the rich traditions, the school pride, the rivalries, and the restaurants. It is a great College town!  After my meeting I got to meet up with some old friends from First Descents for dinner at this fancy-smancy restaurant in Chapel Hill.  It was great to catch up with them!  After dinner, they dropped me off for dessert at the house of a member of the Philippine Nurses Association.  It was great meeting with them and there is def a sense of family in that community!  I def felt like I was at an uncle or auntie’s house!

dept of exercise and sport scienceOn day 2, Carmina gave me a driving tour of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus before she went to work.  It definitely reminded me of Ann Arbor!  Later that morning, I had the opportunity to attend a presentation at the School of Social Work by Dr. Ted Trimble, Director of the Center of Global Health at the US National Cancer Institute.  It was very interesting to see that internationally there are many cancers associated with obesity.  Diet and exercise play such a large role in overall health and well being.  I personally am addicted to SUGAR, but at least I’m more aware of it when I eat.  I’m doing better limiting my sugar intake, but the Western Diet is so high in sugar.  Seriously, start reading labels… notice that there is no “Recommended Daily Allowance” for sugar!  That’s kinda weird… I started out by eliminating carbonated drinks and limiting my cookie/dessert intake, but I’m still trying to figure out how to decrease my overall sugar intake.  I have noticed that almost every processed food has some form of sugar in it!  Even the “heathy ones”!  Later in the day, I got to meet with and check out Dr. Claudio Battaglini‘s lab.  He is really cool guy looking at the role of exercise post oncology treatment.  I was very impressed with all the equipment in his lab.  I am familiar with much of it, but I do realize that I need to get more lab time.  I’ve been out of academia for over 10 years!

Anyways, here are pictures from Day 1 and Day 2.  It was cool because you walk everywhere at UNC, and all the buses were free to ride!  I am really concerned about returning to school because I haven’t been in school in over 10 years!  I figured that my passion for “post treatment oncology thrivership” will only help to drive my goal of getting involved with oncology exercise research.  I was VERY impressed with UNC.  The only knock on UNC was the weather, but I’m comparing it to near perfect weather in San Diego.  It was cooler temperature-wise and raining, but a welcome change of scenery.  Except for the the weather, it was a great trip and has me thinking… I was concerned about the accessibility of the campus.  I will definitely visit the disabled student office the next time I come to Chapel Hill! I was pleasantly surprised, but I would have to look at manual chair option + wijit. I’m not 100% confident that the mAss Kicker Mobile could navigate the bus system and drastic changes in weather.  Rain is one thing, but hurricanes/snow is a whole different beast.  This trip definitely got me thinking…

In a couple weeks, we are having the Celebration of Life.  I will be a 10-year survivor on Oct 25.  I’m inviting all the people who were there for me in the beginning to say “thanks” for helping me get through the first few years.  But more importantly I wanna personally say “thanks” to the people who helped create the “post-brain tumor version of myself!”  It will be a very emotional night for me.  If you can’t make to the event, please support me here so mAss Kickers Foundation can continue international outreach!

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