Mission Hope cancer patients drawing strength at rehabilitation program

12-week program provided free of charge

Mission Hope cancer patients drawing strength at rehabilitation program

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Cancer patients at Mission Hope Cancer Center have the ability to draw strength on its popular rehabilitation program.

Created in 2014, the program gives cancer patients and survivors the opportunity to receive personalized instruction specifically tailored for their needs.

"It can help reduce stress, which cancer brings out a lot of stress in many different facets,” said trainer John Malinowski, who has been with the program five years. “It can help blood pressure and heart rates. It can help us maintain our muscle mass. It can help increase their energy."

Located across Main Street from Mission Hope, the rehab center is fully stocked with a wide variety of modern exercise equipment.

Those who take part, go thorough a 12-week program that can help them during what often times is a difficult recovery period.

"After going through my chemotherapy and surgery and finishing my treatment, I found my legs were so weak, I was having difficulty with my day-to-day activities,” said Robert Ikola, who was diagnosed with lymphoma last year.

“I couldn't walk," Ikola said.  "I was very scared and concerned about being able to walk."

Ikola is now in his second 12-week stint in the program and he said it's given him his life back.

"I'm just really happy,” said Ikola. “Now I can actually put in a full day. I can put in 10 hours now and I've got my life back and I'm grateful. 

Bob Padilla, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year, also has benefitted from the program that is provided free of charge for Mission Hope patients.

"I was fairly week and my stamina was really weak and rundown," Padilla said, referring to how he felt after treatment.

Now, he's feeling much better after going through the rehab program for several weeks.

"It has strengthened me and given me better endurance and stamina," said Padilla. "I can feel improvement already in the short time that I've been coming and that gives me something to look forward to."''

Even though the rehab program only lasts a few weeks, Malinowski emphasizes patients are able to take their experiences in the center and use them as the move on in their life.

"It's developed in a way that we are hoping people will take the knowledge that they learn and be able to utilize it anywhere," said Malinowski. "Everything that we do in our group exercise classes is meant to be a home exercise program as well, so they can take what they learn here and implement that at home, in a hotel room, where ever they go."

The rehabilitation program is just one of many that are offered to Mission Hope patients without charge.

Many of the programs directly benefit from generous community donations, such as those received each year during the Day of Hope.

The popular fundraiser is held each April. 

It features hundreds of volunteers across Northern Santa Barbara and South San Luis Obispo counties selling special edition $1 Santa Maria Times newspapers.

Last year, the Day of Hope brought in a record-breaking amount of $211,295.

It's money, patients say, that goes to great use.

"It's really important for the community to come together and support this because to have this facility in our community is something that other people just don't have," said Ikola.

The Day of Hope first began in the Santa Maria Valley and has since expanded into other nearby communities, such as Lompoc, Santa Ynez and Nipomo.

All money raised will stay local and directly benefit Mission Hope cancer patients.

It makes you appreciate the community that you live in. The community has grown," said Padilla. "Santa Maria has grown a lot, but it still has a small town mentality and it makes you feel like they're going to take care of their own. That's real important and that gives people a sense of hope and something to look forward to."

For more information, visit the Day of Hope webpage.


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