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PALs For Life: Physical Activity and Lymphedema Study Program At The Upper Valley Aquatic Center

Dec 03, 2021 04:25PM ● By Nyambura
Physical Activity and Lymphedema Study or PALs For Life is a grant-funded program for breast cancer survivors at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center. As the name suggests, it helps cancer survivors manage lymphedema - but also provides so much more. The program has been up and running since 2013.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer affecting women in the US. Statistics show that 30% of breast cancer survivors get occasional lymphedema outbursts. Interstitial fluid accumulates on the arms, legs, fingers, and toes because the lymph tissue has been removed or damaged from surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation treatment. PALs For Life provides interventions supported by research done by the University of Pennslyvania on managing this condition.

PALs for Life was introduced to Upper Valley Aquatic Center by Erin Buck, the current fitness director. Erin is an ACSM cancer specialist and NASM certified. She has successfully worked with breast cancer survivors for almost a decade under this program. Her work aims to strengthen, motivate, and encourage survivors enabling them to develop endurance from the illness and treatment side effects. She works in conjunction with community partners in setting up multifaceted programs for breast cancer survivors.

What PALs for Life Offers 

Training and Fitness

Survivors participate in safe exercises for their physical fitness. The intervention is designed to resolve issues like lymphedema, increasing physical strength, and confidence. It also positively influences the survivors’ mental health.


The program provides a support structure for women throughout their cancer journey. Cancer and the accompanying treatments take a toll on every facet of health. The ordeal brings survivors to a new normal - one that requires a great deal of resilience and hope. PALs For Life is a community that thrives in providing assistance, accountability, empowerment, and care from the moment of diagnosis.

Breast cancer survivors find reliable and readily available support along with tried and tested intervention strategies. They are strengthened through sharing their journey, finding accountability, and assurance as they overcome the illness in the PALs For Life community. Not being alone in this journey is vital - it provides courage and fosters determination to get through the fight.

PALs for Life has been a source of great solace for breast cancer survivors during the pandemic. The program launched online meetings during quarantine. Currently, there are ongoing physical meetings. 

Nutrition Guidance

Cancer survivors are provided with dietary support to cultivate proper nutrition. Cancer treatments interfere with the immune system, appetite, and body functioning resulting in malnutrition. With the proper nutrition, survivors can build their immunity, get to a healthy weight, and improve their bodily functions.


The PALs For Life program also educates survivors about lymphedema, its persistence after treatment, and the necessity of managing the condition.

Who Can Join?

The PALs for life program is for fighters and survivors of breast cancer. Once there is awareness of breast cancer, this caring community becomes an essential resource. The program resumed its physical meetings in July 2021.

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