Tennessee Nonprofit Expands Support for Cancer Survivors with Free Mental Health Counseling

photo from Survivor Fitness

For over a decade, Survivor Fitness has helped hundreds of cancer survivors navigate the difficult path of post-treatment recovery through one-on-one personal training and nutritional coaching.

Now, the Tennessee-based nonprofit is expanding the scope of its mission to heal both bodies and minds by connecting participants with free mental health counseling.

“Since Survivor Fitness launched, we’ve primarily focused on physical and nutritional health,” said Survivor Fitness Founder Aaron Grunke. “But as we continue growing, we’re able to prioritize another key area of recovery, which is mental health.”

At 23, Grunke faced a life-changing cancer diagnosis and endured two major surgeries and seven rounds of chemotherapy before he was pronounced cancer-free.

Despite the good news, Grunke’s cautious sense of relief was quickly tempered by the realization that he had been left to his own devices to recover from the physical and emotional toll of his disease and its treatments.

“Cancer impacts lives far more than what many people think or realize,” Grunke added. “The emotional and mental challenges can be exhausting and debilitating, which I’ve experienced firsthand.”

In 2013, Aaron and his wife, Meg, created Survivor Fitness to help provide other cancer patients with the resources and relationships they’d need to bridge the post-treatment gap.

The group’s unique support model leverages a growing network of physical trainers and dieticians who work directly with adult participants of all backgrounds and abilities, either in-person or online, to safely create and confidently pursue their post-treatment health goals through private, one-on-one coaching sessions.

Now, Survivor Fitness is partnering with counselors and therapists to help participants address the mental and emotional trauma that often lingers well past a positive cancer prognosis.

Research shows that three out of every four cancer patients experience symptoms of psychological distress or similar concerns, while nearly six out of ten cancer patients feel that their mental health needs receive less attention than their physical needs.

All Survivor Fitness programs are available to help survivors in person or online at no cost to them, thanks to the generous support of donors.

“What a difference a therapist will make in the recovery process,” said Rachel, a Survivor Fitness participant. “After finishing treatment, I was defeated, I was deflated, and I was lost. Don’t get me wrong, the exercise and nutrition were life-changing, but this program is the missing piece of the puzzle.”

To learn more about supporting Survivor Fitness or becoming a participant, visit survivorfitness.org.

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