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Blast from the past: Peitz Cancer Support House teaches patients to box their stress away

Peitz Cancer Resource Coordinator Melissa Hudson and her crew of feisty ladies laced up their gloves to knock out cancer at the Baxter Regional Medical Center’s Wellness Education Center Tuesday afternoon.

The Peitz Cancer Support House hosts the Knock Out Cancer Boxing Class each Tuesday and Thursday for patients receiving cancer treatment in the Baxter County area.

“We had a survivor that was going through treatments and she said ‘I’m so angry,’” Hudson said. “That’s one of the stages of grief that cancer patients go through sometimes and I said, I need to get you a boxing glove and this was just perfect.”

Marilyn Bagwell lifts weights at BRMC’s Wellness Education Center. The Knock Out Cancer Boxing Class focuses on helping cancer patients relieve their emotional stress while keeping them physically fit. Photo by Chris Fulton / MHO.

The boxing class runs from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Patients are put through their paces, starting with a warmup before rolling into a weightlifting session.

After the weights, patients put on their gloves and hit the speed bag to get their heart rate going.

“It’s a way to release frustration, stress, fatigue,” Hudson said. “It releases endorphins and makes you feel good. It’s energizing. We laugh a lot. We sparkle a lot, that’s what we call it here, not sweat but sparkle, and you know it just makes you feel that way from head to toe.”

Donna Uhrhammer lifts weights before hitting the bags at Peitz’s boxing class. Peitz Cancer Support House provides patients with the tools and support needed to combat cancer. Photo by Chris Fulton / MHO.

With their heart rate elevated, the class moves on to the classic punching bag to work on combos. There, the women kept their arms up while unleashing a flurry of punches at the bags.

At one point, the class switched up their combos by throwing in some light kicks for fun.

“This is the greatest thing ever to keep your mind off what’s going on,” said TJ Hill, a regular boxer in the class. “We are so blessed with this strengthening especially and you know, as they say, there’s no hill for a climber.”

After the class, the women went over their experiences with staying positive during treatment. They said the class gave them extra confidence and a sense of camaraderie that let them know they had a support group to lean on during difficult times.

Tj Hill hits the punching bag at BRMC’s Wellness Education Center. The Knock Out Cancer Boxing Class is just one of the many classes that BRMC and it’s supporting houses offer to residents in Mountain Home. Photo by Chris Fulton / MHO.

For Donna Uhrhammer, the workouts help work out the most important muscle in her body.

“It not only helps the muscles in our body, but most of all, it helps the mind,” Uhrhammer said. “It puts a mindset that’s victorious.”

Hudson said she started the boxing classes this year and usually has 4-5 patients in each class. The Peitz Cancer Support House also offers an Intermedia Yoga class for those seeking a slower workout.

The Peitz Cancer Support House was founded 21 years ago and was endowed by the Peitz family. The house sit’s outside of Baxter Regional Medical Center and other medical houses like the Mruk Family Education Center on Aging.

Connie Lambert picks up the pace on the speed bag during Peitz’s Knock Out Cancer Boxing Class. Patients run through a variety of exercises including weightlifting, cardio, boxing, kickboxing and stretching during the hour long class. Photo by Chris Fulton / MHO.

The Peitz House offers a comprehensive support system for patients starting from their first diagnosis through treatment and beyond.

Services include support sessions, one-on-one counseling, a resource library and a care package. The house also hosts a wig and scarf bank and includes mastectomy/lumpectomy supplies for patients.

The Peitz Cancer Support House is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Patients may walk-in at any time.

“With the Peitz Cancer Support House, nobody has to go through it alone,” Hudson said. “Even if the person going through it lives miles away, we can still help get their family members and get them information.”

Tj Hill (far left), Connie Lambert (back left), Donna Uhrhammer (left), Melissa Hudson (right), and Marilyn Bagwell (far right) pose with “Bob” after finishing their boxing class at BRMC’s Wellness Education Center. Hudson, a resource coordinator for the Peitz House, started teaching the class after a patient opened up to her about the anger they felt during their treatment. Photo by Chris Fulton / MHO.

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