Survivorship

Kim Rutledge

Kim Rutledge had always been an active person, running, skiing and playing soccer. So when she found herself still sidelined from the fitness-filled life she loved 11 years after her non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis, she sought advice from the Survivorship Program.

It was a life-changing decision, she said. “Other doctors had dismissed my concerns about feeling so exhausted after I tried to exercise. But at the Survivorship Program, they really listened when I complained about my fatigue and feeling like my heart was pounding really hard.”

Tests revealed Kim had tachycardia, an excessively fast heart rate that was likely a byproduct of the chemotherapy or radiation that put her lymphoma in remission. Her energy returned after she was prescribed a beta-blocker to manage her cardiac arrhythmia.

"I’ve been exercising ever since,” said the now 54-year-old, who also stays busy teaching first-graders and caring for two grandchildren. “Exercise is so much a part of who I am. I wasn’t satisfied not being an active person. Being able to do it again has helped me regain who I was before cancer.”

The Survivorship Program has also given Kim peace of mind. “After I was in remission a few years, I was just told to call my doctor if I had problems. But after cancer, you start imagining the worst with every little twinge: is this something I should watch for or be concerned about? I didn’t want to monitor myself; I’m not a doctor.”

Instead, Kim comes to the clinic twice each year for follow-up screenings and to have any concerns addressed. Every test result goes back to her local doctor so her providers are on the same page. Kim said this proactive approach helped her emotionally to enjoy life again.

“As long as they’re monitoring me, I feel on top of it. I will definitely maintain this for the rest of my life,” she said. “It’s hard for people to be monitored by regular providers for something so specialized. I recommend this program to everyone.”

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is a world leader in research to prevent, detect and treat cancer and other life-threatening diseases.