Behind my work in prostate cancer research
And how a paper I co-authored got published in BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care
Fox and Wassersug (2022) compares two group exercise programs for PCa patients—and what makes them sustainable long-term. The first group, FC Prostata, is a Danish football league with 20 active teams across the country. The second, Butts in a Boat, is a dragon-boating team based out of downtown Vancouver that evolved into a weekly Zoom fitness program during the pandemic.
To put it simply: we found that intensive group exercise leads to bonding and friendship (especially when you go out to the bar afterwards). Neither program facilitates discussion around cancer, and the disease just comes up organically in conversation. Those friendships give men community support, a safe place to discuss their cancer, and a driving reason to come back for more exercise each week. That last part is really important, because exercise combats the side effects of prostate cancer treatment and has the potential to slow disease progression.
But that's only part of the story. My Dad has been a core part of Butts in a Boat since 2016. I've seen first-hand how he's found community and friendship as he navigates prostate cancer. He has a bigger friend group than almost anyone I know, and the men in his cancer community show up for each other in so many ways. The disease hasn't isolated them. If anything, it's created solidarity. I think many people would be happier if they had access to groups like this as they age. My biggest hope is that someone reads our paper and decides they could start a group like this, too.
My co-author Dr. Richard J. Wassersug is a co-founder of Butts in a Boat, and tapped me to help with this research project in late 2020 after I moved back to Vancouver. I was eager to help fill a gap he'd identified in the medical literature around exercise group sustainability. I owe Richard a massive thanks for his trust and mentorship, because this paper wouldn't exist without him. FC Prostata's Project Coordinator Anders Ostergaard was kind enough to let us interview him twice, and Tucker Lieberman also provided key editorial support. I'm really grateful for both their help, too.
So if you'd like to learn more about the research findings, reach out! I'd love to chat. The link's below, and I've attached some photos below that show the community built through exercise better than I can put in words.